In Focus: Connecting with Clay

Julie Engler, of Mudslinger Studios, creates coil pots, jugs and other creations at her workshop near Whitefish

By Greg Lindstrom
Julie Engler creates clay pots and bowls in her studio. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Julie Engler gained confidence making coil pots in high school, and pursued an artist’s path after taking a cue from her father, Jack, who played the piano for a living.

“Growing up, my dad was playing at work, so that idea of play at work was pretty deep seeded,” Engler said.

After graduate school at the University of Montana, Engler spent a stint coaching soccer and teaching ninth-grade English. But eight years ago she returned to her pottery full time. In the warm summer months, she works in her backyard studio, carefully crafting coil pots, jugs, bowls and clay animals, among other creations. She has an almost personal connection with the clay.

“I have an idea of how it’s going to end, but then when that shape comes and it’s finished it’ll almost scream, ‘I’m finished, get your hands off me!’ And I love it when that happens, and when I listen. Because sometimes, like that guy,” she says, pointing to a jug with a recently ripped off spout, “we’re not talking.”

In previous years, Engler has catered her work to tourists, creating pieces she thinks others may like and purchase from her stand at local farmers markets. But her heart wasn’t in it, and she decided to pursue another path this year.

“I’m just going to make what I want to make. At least I’ll feel good standing there behind a table full of work that makes me happy, that has that energy in it that’s good energy.”

See more of Engler’s work at http://www.mudslingerstudios.com or its Facebook page.

Julie Engler creates clay pots and bowls in her studio. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
Julie Engler creates clay pots and bowls in her studio. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.