ST. CLOUD – Katie Webster is in the basement of her St. Cloud home.
With the “This American Life” podcast playing in the background, the 2006 Sartell High School graduate is working on her pottery wheel next to her husband’s weight bench. When she has formed the right shape out of clay, she’ll move near the washer and dryer where there’s an electric kiln.
“I have to not feel rushed or pressured when creating,” Webster said.
Her basement studio provides that sanctuary.
Webster, who spends most of her free time sketching or making pottery, sells her artwork on her website. She sold more than $600 worth of products during a recent St. Cloud art crawl.
“She gets zoned in down here,” said Andrew Webster, Katie’s husband. He engineered a special vent to allow the 1,200-degree electric kiln to be in the basement.
“She’ll come down here to do a simple task that takes five minutes. Then she’ll get absorbed into it and do much more — and then she’ll be down here for an hour or two hours.”
Katie Webster knew she wanted her own studio the first time she visited the Sartell home of Peder Hegland, which included its own pottery studio. Hegland’s daughter Robyn later became the maid of honor in Katie’s wedding.
“I basically wanted their whole house — my future goal was, Get that studio,” Katie said. “That was a big inspiration.”
Peder Hegland, who sells pottery out of his Sartell home, said he admires Katie’s work.
“I think she’s come a long way for how young she is,” Hegland said. “In pottery, it takes a long time to figure out where you want to go with it. It takes years, but she is well on her way.”
Katie, the daughter of two college professors, started taking classes from local artist Claire Witt when she was 8 years old.
One of her oldest pieces, a painting made in Witt’s class, is on the wall of her basement studio.
But Katie’s biggest passion always has been pottery.
She studied ceramics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she met Andrew in a drawing class. She chose the school through the Princeton Review.
“There’s a huge learning curve with pottery,” Katie said. “It’s always made me determined to get better at it and master it.”
To continue learning, Katie is starting as yearlong apprenticeship under St. Joseph potter J.D. Jorgenson.
Katie also will teach a pottery-making class at the Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center this fall.
She’s taught individual classes out of her home.
“Katie is really developing herself here in the art community of St. Cloud,” Jorgenson said. “She has a very definite presence and voice in her work.”
At Jorgenson’s studio, she’ll use a Korean kick-style pottery wheel and a wood-burning kiln.
“A big part of the apprenticeship will be taking her on a different path and develop her work beyond what she’s been doing,” Jorgenson said. “It will be adding to the foundation of what she has learned so far.”
Katie also is working on her personal ceramics collection. The Webster household is filled with Katie’s products, as well as a large collection of other works.
Andrew, an art history professor, takes photos and logs their entire collection.
“I think part of the draw for us is that pottery uses functional pieces,” Andrew said. “Pottery and clay have an incredible range.”