Christine Sutton | Episode 871
Christine Sutton was born and raised in Montana, growing up in a rural area, fairly feral, with lots of pets. From a young age Christine would obsessively draw flowers and horses (foreshadowing). Christine attended the university of Montana, earning a BFA in painting and printmaking, and almost didn’t finish due to getting hired on as a cook in elk hunting camp. After college Christine became a horse packing guide, and got to explore the magical lands that make up The Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, having many adventures involving horses, mules, bears, wolves, elk , etc. It wasn’t until later, when Christine had her first child that she returned to art, painting mostly images of birds, which inspired her business name, Little Bird Painting. Around 2016 a good friend of hers got a kiln, and Christine started teaching herself how to make pinch pots and throw. She was immediately obsessed, fell in love with scraffito, and has not stopped making pottery since. Christine’s pottery is folk art inspired and tells the stories of the animals and adventures from her life.
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Was it scary starting over?
Yeah, it was. It was stepping into the unknown for sure and maybe that’s why pottery was so healing. It is something you can hold, the earth you know, something you have control over. I don’t know. That’s a good question.
Did you feel stuck at that point?
I wouldn’t say I felt stuck. I felt more just kind of crazy.
Was learning something new like a lifeboat for you at that point in life?
Yeah, I think so. I think it was exciting to learn something new and empowering. More than anything it was just so fun. All potters know opening up a kiln is such a magical, it’s like a present every time. Well, not every time. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Everything about pottery is so magical.
Was having the idea of new goals, was that a source of hope for you?
I think it certainly gives structure to it. I am a bad record keeper in general but I do remember making a spreadsheet and writing down what I would sell, who bought it, and how much I got and it felt nice to have all that information together. I have since sort of let that slip. Maybe I am at a new phase now where I don’t need that anymore. (laughter) But yeah, now that you are saying that I think it did give some order and structure in setting a goal and achieving a goal, and a kiln needs to get filled with a certain amount of pottery. There’s cycles and ends to it.
At what point did you start to make peace with the idea that this was the new reality?
Yeah, I don’t think I totally have. I don’t know. I think I have come to peace with knowing that life is never what you expect it to be. And if you can kind of roll with it that’s the best you can do. I don’t know if you ever make peace with large grief events, you just learn to live with them and they help you grow.
What’s your favorite piece to make? Not your favorite design, but what’s your favorite form?
I think I really like making little…just like a little cup. I like to make cups with a little fat bottom and a little waist. A little small cup. No handle because handles are still hard for me.