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Meet Janelle Songer

In her third-grade art class, Janelle fabricated a pile of dough balls into a representative rock composition. Her curiosity with nature continues to be pervasive in her work. Janelle received the 2008 Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship, from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), which allowed her to finance a two week exploratory trip to Costa Rica where she studied exotic plant structure.  In addition, she received the 2008 Student Award at the annual Michigan Ceramics Art Association (MCAA) event.  In 2010 she received the MCAA award for Functional Pottery.  

Janelle grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and Pinckney, MI. Her curiosity in art, culture and varied landscapes inspired her to travel through North America, Pan-Asia, and Europe where she gained inspiration.

Coming to clay with a background in drawing and painting, I delight in the ability to wrap a sketch around a functional object. This object used continuously in the daily ritual of nurturing the body through food and drink, can now nurture the spirit and imagination as one takes in the subtle brush strokes, hand-drawn lines and lush colors of the floral surface designs.

What are you currently working on?

My latest inspiration is a series of functional yet very decorative large bowls encrusted in hand-built flower forms. I wheel-throw the foot and base, then loosely hand-build the wall allowing finger marks and uneven edges to be the focal point of the design. Then the whole bowl and flowers are glazed in my custom-made Antique White glaze giving it a vintage and shabby chic look.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

So, if you think my hands are good at manipulating clay just imagine what I can do to tired and sore muscles. :) I have been a massage therapist for the last 16 years and counting!!! I’m a graduate of the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy and have been practicing ever since. For the last four years, I have been working for myself out of a studio office in Birmingham. This massage career provides me with a wonderful sense of balance and allows me to really enjoy the moments I’m alone in my studio creating.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been an animal-loving, environmentally conscious Vegetarian/wannabe-Vegan for the last 21 years. Also, when I was 20 years old, I really wanted to learn yoga but was bored by the idea of just taking a watered- down class a couple times a week in my hometown, so instead, I packed a bag and went to live and work at a Hindu Ashram in northern California for 6 months where every single day I fully emerged in the essence of the yogic philosophies. An unforgettable experience!!

My current line of dinnerware is inspired by my many trips abroad.  In the rainforests of Costa Rica, I fell in love with the rich saturation of color, the dense moisture-laden air, and the wild free-flowing shapes, all of which have been translated into the glaze and surface design of this ware.   Japan taught me of the beauty of serving, the interest in varying form, and the subtle grace of brush strokes.  Finally, Thailand and Indonesia’s textiles greatly inspire my desire for patterning, color, and floral motifs.  Conclusively, this dinnerware is a culmination of all the beauty I’ve seen and experienced and is meant to inspire joy and fanciful daydreams in those who use it.

Where do you gather most of your inspiration for your artwork?

Nature, fashion, interior design but sometimes the best ideas are from the subconscious…like with my latest flower-encrusted bowls. One day the idea just came to me almost fully formed. A few weeks after building these bowls I finally realized the idea for them came from looking at hundreds of cake design images on Pinterest a couple months back when doing research for a good friend’s 40th birthday cake. You just never know what will end up inspiring you... 

What is your favorite...

Season: Fall

Movie: from the past few years…Cocoa!!! From my teen years to today…The Lost Boys.

Holiday: Thanksgiving

Best cup of coffee: Great Lakes Coffee

Ice cream: So Delicious (Dairy Free) Salted Caramel Cluster Cashewmilk. (seriously, this is amazing!!!) 

What has been the best cultural event you visited in the past year?

Does traveling 22 hours round trip in a car to see the total solar eclipse in Kentucky last August count as a “cultural event”? It definitely brought people together from all over the globe just to witness 2 minutes of rare natural beauty.

You can find lots of Janelle's gorgeous pottery at Yellow Door and online.

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