Jaclyn / Ceramist
Jaclyn Souza is the founder and artist behind Uzumati Ceramics. She lives and works in the Bay Area, but feels most at home in the High Sierra.
Here, she talks about how her experiences in the outdoors influence her work and why it's important to give back to community and environmental causes.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background:
Hi there! My name is Jaclyn Souza — Founder and Ceramist behind Uzumati Ceramics. Creative endeavors have always been a passion of mine and a driving source of my happiness. If you walk through my home in the Bay Area, Ca — you’ll notice that almost everything was made by myself or my husband and I. It wasn’t until September of 2017 that I finally made art my full-time job when I launched Uzumati.
When and how did you come up with the idea for your shop, Uzumati?
I was working a job that was not satisfying and just pushing through till the weekend when I could get outside. My schedule gave me a lot of early evening free time and I was looking for something to fill the space, so I signed up for a beginners ceramic class at a local studio and fell in love instantly! A few months after starting, I purchased a wheel so I could throw at home any chance I got.
Rolling into 2017, I unfortunately lost my sister which prompted me to start making a lot of changes in my life. A couple months passed and I purchased a kiln, quit my full-time job and went for it! It was by-far the best decision I have ever made and I haven’t looked back.
Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your art?
I grew up in a small town in Northern California. From an early age I was drawn to nature, vividly remembering collecting grasshoppers during elementary recess and sneaking them into my desk cubby to play with during class. My parents also took us kids camping a lot but as I transitioned into high school and went on to college, my time was taken up by sports. I was introduced to my now husband Alex and it was our connection and the end of collegiate sports that reintroduced nature back into my life.
We starting climbing together and since then have carved out a lifestyle that fosters adventure. Most of our free time is spent scaling the granite walls of the High Sierra. My experience in the mountains influence my work and the artist I am today.
1% of your sales go towards important environmental causes. Is there a particular environmental issue that you are passionate about?
Keeping public lands in public hands is something that I am passionate about. Without public lands, I would not have my circle of friends, lifestyle, hobbies, career, and happiness. Educating people how to recreate responsibly is the ticket to keeping these beautiful places wild and in our hands. Most recently, my husband and I took 6 kiddos backpacking for their first time — It was such an amazing experience! Watching them discover the wonders of the high country along with teaching them proper etiquette like leave no trace principles was priceless. While hiking out, my daughter (6) said “If I could have any super power it would be to clean up all the trash off the ground”. This moment was so special to me!
Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused?
When I first started working from home as my own boss I was stoked, but right away I realized how easy it was to get distracted. For me to be as present as possible I need to have a clean creative space and movement. Most mornings start with coffee and a quick clean up of the house. After, I hit the gym or a local yoga studio. Once home, I settle in by lighting candles and burning an incense while I write out my to throw list for the day.
The first piece I throw is always something random and usual an epic fail. As my husband often says “you always throw out your first pancake” — such a silly saying but so true. As a self-taught ceramist, who works alone, everything I’ve learned was through trial and error.
Earlier this year, you forced yourself to take a vacation and went to Thailand. As a creative whose work and passion are so intertwined, how was time away beneficial for your craft and business?
I was so nervous to take off to Thailand. Would people still be interested in my work? Would I still want to do this when I got back? Would I have way too many emails to handle when I got home? I had many worries leading up to the trip but honestly it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself! Self love and stillness is so important and its something I am slowly learning to add into my life more often. After returning from the trip, work picked up right where it left off, and I was more refreshed and inspired than ever!
What is the proudest moment in your creative journey so far?
I’ve had many small victories throughout my journey but my proudest moment was launching Uzumati. It’s such a surreal moment when you finally open yourself and your personal work up to the world. Uzumati has been so well received and I couldn’t be more proud!
Second to launching was when I officially becoming apart of 1% For the Planet. When I decided to take the leap and start this journey, one of my main goals, besides keeping a roof over my head, was to be able to give back to my community and causes that I feel passionate about. Last fall I hosted my first fundraiser and surpassed my goal for a donation to the Bears Ears Educational Center Kickstarter Campaign. It’s a damn good feeling when people are supporting my work and the environmental issues I am passionate about.
Are you creatively satisfied?
100%!!! I often get asked ‘how can you throw mugs all day long and not get bored?’ First of all, I don’t normally throw the same product all day long unless it’s holiday prep. But even when I do, each mug feels different than the last and it's so satisfying bringing a lump of clay to life and knowing that it will soon be apart of someones home and daily rituals. Making the first throw of each day a new form that's way out of my league also fuels my creativity. I get a rush seeing how far I can take the clay — odd I know!
What are you most excited about right now?
Im coming off a high from a show (Renegade Craft) I recently did. It was my first big show and to say it was successful is an understatement! I often think about my work and how touching the clay or smelling the handpoured candles would really be a selling point — and the show proved just that. I was thrilled and beyond grateful for how many people came out to meet me, chat, see the pieces first-hand, and support my small business. I am also really excited for Uzumati’s 1 year anniversary and the holidays. I have a lot of fun ideas coming down the pipeline that I cant wait to share!
Finish these sentences
My guiding value is accepting that I am human.
1. Experience the journey and the results will come.
2. Keep your attention focused on your goals, but don't miss out on all the great experiences going on around you right now.
3. Make time for self love.
I lose track of time when I step inside a nursery.
I can listen to "The Doctor's Pharmacy" over and over again.
Mt. Conness holds a special place in my heart because I married my best friend on it’s summit last summer.
I believe "when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir