Ice + Dust Pottery is a collection of small batch, functional pottery, specializing in vessels with handles and stamped designs. We interviewed owner Halley Immelt to learn more about her local business in Columbus, OH.
Tell us about your business.
My name is Halley Immelt and I am the owner and maker behind Ice + Dust Pottery, based out of Columbus, Ohio. I make brightly colored speckled pottery that is both decorative and functional. I started my business in 2018 in order to find a way to de-stress from my busy life as a working mother, and I make all of my work in my basement while my son is in bed. I also work full time as a graphic designer, so Ice + Dust has been an exercise in committing to self care while maintaining work-life balance.
What drew you to your craft?
I took a ceramics class when I was in high school because I thought it would be a fun and easy class — I didn't expect to get hooked like I did! I wanted to pursue it as a career, and I studied fine arts for my first three semesters in college before I quit because I thought that I needed a career with more financial stability. I always told myself that I would return to ceramics as a hobby when I retired, but I missed it like crazy, and I knew that there is never a guarantee when it comes to planning for retirement.
What drew me back to ceramics after my 13-year hiatus was seeing other potters on social media turning their passion for clay into businesses — something that used to seem unattainable to me in the days before Instagram and Square readers. Pottery is an expensive hobby, but I realized that my background in marketing gave me a lot of what I needed to make a business of my hobby, which would in turn allow me to get my hands back into clay long before retirement. I needed a good stress reliever in my life after starting a family, and pottery has absolutely filled that void.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
My son — but maybe that answer doesn't count since I had help making him.
I just started making some fluted vases that are about the size of a wine bottle. I haven't even fired them yet but I can tell that I'll be making a lot more in the future, and probably keeping a few for myself.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A music journalist for Rolling Stone. A good portion of my brain is filled with useless facts I learned from watching too much Pop-Up Video on VH1 when I was a kid.
What is your creative process?
Honest answer: Trying and failing repeatedly, and being ok with that. For example, it took six kiln loads of work for me to settle on the pink glaze I use now. Growth comes through experimentation, and there's a lot of failure involved in that. Clay can be kind of a diva — so much can go wrong throughout the process, and there's a level of resilience required for you to want to get back to the wheel after having a beloved piece crack in the kiln, for example. Getting discouraged inhibits growth, so it helps to accept that a lot of pieces could at some point could be introduced to Mr. Hammer, and to just keep making stuff anyway.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I used to stress and overthink a lot about having a personal style. If I could go back, I would remind myself that while some people can dive right in and have a distinct aesthetic, it doesn't happen that way for everyone. Sometimes it comes as a result from making a lot of work just to see what feels right.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
I suspect that everyone who supports local artists and makers has their own unique set of reasons. For me, I find that I enjoy the things in my life that were handmade in favor of their mass produced counterparts because I have insight into the person who made it and the decisions they made in created it. Knowing that someone crafted it lovingly and carefully makes that object resonate with me, and it's worth the extra cost to have that experience.
Why do you love doing what you do?
I really enjoy getting to know the people who buy things that I made. When I first started my business, I thought I would just throw my work online and ship it off into the void to some unknown person when it sells. But once I started getting a following and doing craft shows, I realized that I was able to talk with the people who were buying my work and meet other makers, which led to so many new friendships that have made me a happier person. The act of making things enhances my life, but the icing on the cake is that I have the chance to use my business to connect with other people who I might otherwise never meet.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
Share your plan and absorb everything. Talk to the people in your life and listen to what they tell you. Encourage them to be honest and watch their body language when you're sharing your work or plans. It's easy to get filled with doubt if you're groping in the dark to figure out how people might react to a certain product or service, and as difficult as it might be to share an idea that isn't fully flushed out, it can save you a lot of headaches and anxiety in the long run.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
With as busy as I am, I don't get to travel much, so I'd say my favorite way to explore Ohio is through research. I am addicted to genealogy and I love discovering how my ancestors came to Ohio. Some were original settlers of the state, while others came as immigrants as recently as within the last century. When I learn their stories, I get a glimpse into the story of the state as a whole, and I've learned so many cool things about how Ohio and the people who live here as a result of learning more about my own family's history. I even discovered two other potters in my family lineage!