Jeanette Morrow is awed by clay as a medium. The New York–based ceramicist hopes that people see themselves in her work and, more specifically, identify with the radical transformation that the material undergoes from start to finish. “Clay holds memory, and has a life cycle of softening and strengthening—coming from and returning to the earth,” she tells Business of Home. “It’s filled with heartbreak and triumph, and I want my pieces to capture those layers of sentiment and meaning.”
Growing up in Atlanta, Morrow was first introduced to ceramics in a high school arts class and quickly fell in love. In college, she studied design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She went on to work as a creative director for a global public relations firm before relocating to New York with her growing family, which prompted her to revisit her passion. “Two beautiful babies and the cross-country move slowed down my timeline significantly,” she says. “But once we settled, I started really pursuing ceramics with the intention of sharing my work.”
In November 2020, she launched her namesake studio—at the height of the pandemic—with a collection of small dishes and trays outfitted in hand-sculpted accents. “A silver lining of lockdown was the uninterrupted studio time [it gave me] to really work out the kinks and build a body of work,” says Morrow.
The artist crafts each of her ceramic wares by hand, using everything from slab rollers to casting molds to sculpt a bespoke design. Her pieces—often bedecked in pearl-like beads or antique-inspired cameos—reference a wide range of aesthetic styles, including Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette and the centuries-old plaster models that fill the Accademia Gallery museum in Florence. “There is a painstaking amount of trial and error, because clay is unforgiving and several things could go wrong every single step of the way,” she says. “It’s a humbling process.”
Today, Morrow splits her time between Manhattan, where she conceptualizes her designs, and the ceramics studio inside her family’s 258-year-old house in the Hudson Valley, where she brings each piece to life. “It’s just me and my two hands running the whole business,” she says.
Though all of her designs serve a function, either as tableware or decor, form still reigns supreme for Morrow. “The tension between being a studio ceramicist or a production potter is a struggle,” she says. “I want to maximize value for the collector and strive to make pieces that can be used as functional art, whether hung on a wall, displayed on a shelf or used daily. I’ve romanticized how these pieces will serve each family and hopefully become treasured heirlooms.”
This past fall, she released an exclusive line of ceramic ware in collaboration with Jenny Wolf’s The Huntress, featuring pieces such as vases and incense holders adorned in the brand’s signature Artemis and Apollo motifs. “I’m very excited to be working on some more special projects for The Huntress in the new year,” she says. “The new West Village store is the most beautiful space, and I’m hoping to start offering events there soon too.”
In addition to expanding her newly debuted Voluntas series—which includes plates and bowls covered in hand-inscribed poetry—Morrow hopes to launch at least three more collections in 2024. “At the heart of my work are commissions,” she says. “I make molds of personal items, such as a grandmother’s brooch, flight wings, and even seashells from travels, and turn them into custom pieces for collectors. I’m so moved to be entrusted with creating art out of something so special—and with so much history.”