by gianna hudson
photos by lauren zabel
Clay caked fingernails and a passion for creating, Jordyn Brummett is setting fire to the Huntsville Art community. Brummett is no stranger to hard work. She makes that clear in how she speaks about her passion for ceramics and her journey to finding herself again after life tried to take away her spark.
After completing a degree at Illinois State in art education, Brummett had a plan to teach for five years, then start a family and return to teaching in the near future. Upon finding out she was pregnant with her first daughter; the plan went out the window and Brummett gave up her dreams in favor of a new path of becoming a devoted mother. Brummett’s love for her daughters is evident and has clearly contributed to her now success as an artist; however, at the time, the disruption of her career came as a depressing blow and left Brummett feeling lost and without that passion to get out of bed in the morning.
“I thought to be the best mom I could be I needed to give all of my attention to my kids, but I just found the opposite basically happened,” Brummett said. “I became unmotivated. I had no energy. I was depressed because I just lost such an important part of myself.”
Brummett attributes her passion for ceramics to her childhood. While spending hot days outside in rural Illinois, making mud pies with five sisters, she found a love for being connected to the earth.
“A lot of my fondest memories are playing outside. It’s not a vivid memory as far as what we made [in the mud], the memory is the emotions tied to those times,” Brummett said.
That sentiment later translated to a zeal for art, more specifically ceramics. Her high school art classes inspired college aspirations to get a degree in art. Her college work gave Brummett a chance to work with clay and soon the childhood memories flooded back.
“Majoring in art felt kind of like an act of rebellion. To kind of like please my parents, I settled on an art education degree because it was a more practical route,” Brummett said. “The feelings of joy creating with my hands and the excitement of watching something come to fruition right in front of you, took me back to my calling. I was made with these skills and desires and when I put them into practice it brings me to life and gives me energy and motivation in all areas of my life.”
However, as anyone in the arts knows, no career comes without personal sacrifice, hard work and absolute determination. Brummett is not lacking in any of those categories.
Although life did not pan out how she expected, Brummett has used her drive and all-encompassing love of family to become a wonderful mother and wife currying her favor with fate. When her husband’s job relocated the family to Huntsville, leaving behind familiar and safe rural Illinois, Brummett faced an entirely new series of questions and hardships. She says she set everything of hers aside because she felt that was best for her family. When she gave birth to her second child, she realized she had completely lost herself.
“I was a very unhappy, grumpy mom. I was unmotivated, depressed. I felt like I couldn’t be who they [her children] needed me to be, and I couldn’t be the wife my husband needed me to be,” Brummett said.
In 2020, a deep depression, not unfamiliar to most during the pandemic, found Brummett at an all-time low. She knew something had to change for her to continue to be the mother she had fought to become. Brummett turned within herself and reignited her passion for ceramics. Her garage became a makeshift art studio. Squeezing in time on the wheel whenever she could, meant mornings that started in the middle of the night, and long exhausted evenings spent molding her clay and herself in to a more recognizable and perfected image.
“It brought me back to life. I felt motivated again, I had energy throughout the day with my kids. It’s my passion. It was very fulfilling and satisfying and radically improving my life,” Brummett said.
Brummett knew in order to continue funding her work, she had to sell her work, so she started sharing her pottery on Instagram. With gracious reception from her followers, Brummett grew her pottery business and started an online shop—Jordyn Brummett Pottery.
“I wanted people to know that I was committed to creating because I need to. Ceramics is an expensive hobby so I needed to share my work to continue my work,” Brummett said. “It was a sense of accountability for myself. People know, so I’ve gotta do it.”
An overwhelming amount of people were fascinated by her artwork and wanted to create themselves, but felt they did not know where to start. As Brummett had just recently faced a similar roadblock when getting back into ceramics, including where in the world to buy clay, a wheel, or materials, in Huntsville, she perceived that she could help people start their own journey into pottery through teaching.
“I found that there was this community of people who were really resonating with my story. My background is in teaching, I discovered a love of teaching and love of sharing the creative process with other people,” Brummett said. “Very early on, I always knew I wanted to open a community studio one day. I had a mentorship with another artist and one of their questions was ‘if you couldn’t fail, what would be your goal,’ and I knew in my gut the answer was, I want to open a community studio.”
In July 2020, this goal felt conservatively 10 years away, though she continued to pursue the idea, internally. conservatively 10 years away, though she continued to pursue the idea internally.
“It really was this dream and longing. There was such a tug within me, keeping me up at night thinking about it, daydreaming as I’m working,” Brummett said.
Her patience and dedication brought her dream into fruition more quickly than she could have ever hoped. When she met Ashlyn Biggers, a fellow ceramics artist, Brummett knew fate was molding her dreams into reality. The two opened The Vessel on Gaslight Alley at Stovehouse in late November 2022. The 1,000 square feet of collaborative space offers seven wheels, a space for hand building and glazing and a retail area with both Jordyn Brummett Pottery and a Vessel collection of dining wear, created by the artists of the Vessel.
Brummett attributes the ability to open the Vessel largely to the ongoing support and encouragement of Patti Yancey, owner and CFO of Stovehouse.
“It will be a place of accomplishment or discovery. A place to reignite feelings that may have been shut down manifested in a physical location, a safe creative space,” Brummett said. The space will also offer a range of courses from novice or “try it class” to expert, master classes and workshops.
“My hope is to introduce pottery to Huntsville’s growing art scene and to help indulge the curious consumer of arts in a traditionally engineering driven community,” Brummett said.