“Bringing wonder into everyday living,” is how Emily Herb thinks about creating her whimsical nature-inspired and functional forms. Working with clay since she was a child, she has had some very inspiring teachers who sparked her passion for clay with their own enthusiasm, and spirit. One of her most inﬂuential pottery teachers was Marguerite Wildenhain, whose summer pottery workshops in Guemeville, California she attended for two years, in 1979 and 1980. Other education includes a MA from the University of Arizona (1993), and a BFA from the University of Utah (1980).
Emily moved to Hawai’i in 1998. “Much of my inspiration for forming and decorating clay comes from nature – the amazing plants that grow in Hawaii, the unique birds.” She creates mainly with stoneware clay, beginning by throwing forms on the potter’s wheel and then using hand-building techniques such as adding coils, and sculpting. Some forms are also decorated with incised designs and colored slips.
“I like the idea of making things that bring a sense of wonder into everyday living. Making candle holders and oil lamps may help to bring a little light into someone’s life, drinking vessels and decanters may be a part of some special moment, a little bowl or box can cradle small wonders. Most of my pieces are functional in some way, though some of the birds are closed forms, making them more purely sculptural. I still think of them as vessels – for the spirit of the bird.”
Passionate about working to preserve endangered Hawaiian birds and plants, she donates $1 from every “bird pot” she sells to the ʻAlalā Project, which is dedicated to restoring Hawaiʻi’s native crow to the wild.