Maker Crush - Aleisha Ellis of Utility Objects
Describe Utility Objects and tell me why you launched your business.
Utility Objects is a minimal home goods shop providing handmade pottery to those wanting to spruce up their living space. I launched my business out of the desire to share my artwork with my local community. Starting at artisan markets, I really enjoyed sharing my craft making experience and bringing this primitive art form into the hands of others to use in their homes.
How long have you been a ceramicist? Have you always enjoyed working with your hands?
I’ve been a ceramicist for a little over 4.5 years now. Prior to being introduced to pottery in college I was an architectural photographer taking photos of manufactured spaces and woodworking sculptures for the photos to adhere to making them more three dimensional. I guess you can say I always tried finding a way to work with my hands.
Tell me about your design inspirations and the Shibui aesthetic - it seems as though natural colors and subtle textures play a large part in your designs.
I love a design that is all about the form. Therefore the Japanese shibui ceramic style really stuck out to me. A lot of works described under this concept are all very natural and formed very well. I tend to get very distracted by the wide range of glaze colors available to us and it makes one forget about the actual intention or action of the potter making a vessel. It’s a reason I use very minimal glaze coloring and work more with the clay’s natural color and texture.
Can you talk a bit about your recent “Tumblers Against Injustice” campaign?
Following the pandemic was more police brutality. I wanted to support organizations fighting for racial equality so I responded by making a big investment in a potter's kiln and making work from my apartment. At the time I had little savings but wanted to give back so I started this campaign making natural (black) basaltic tumblers monogrammed with black lives matter. It was a success that I sold all of the pots I made so I decided to make the campaign permanent, or at least until systematic racism is abolished.
What’s your favorite part of being a small business owner?
Community! I love that being a small business owner you can sort of recognize the hard work other people do who own a business. There is a higher level of appreciation that you have for every little thing they've done to get where they are. I just love to see the community relationship with small businesses. The support exists and it continues to grow stronger each year.
What’s your current guilty pleasure?
Okay I love watching shonen jump anime. It is such a guilty pleasure of mine but I’m a mid 90’s kid so anime is all I grew up on.