“I think I defy the ‘I knew I was an artist since I was kid’ narrative,” says Heather Stewart Harvey by way of explaining her circuitous path to becoming a full-fledged ceramicist. That route took her from West Virginia to the West Coast, where she worked in public policy and got a degree in library science. She really started to set down artistic roots while tending to a small garden behind one of her San Francisco apartments, an experience that both connected her to her flower-obsessed grandmother and taught her the value of patience when it comes to creative pursuits.
That interest in making things with her hands only grew in the early aughts after Heather moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where she still lives with her husband and two kids. While working at the famed liberal-arts school Warren Wilson College by day, Heather started taking wheel-throwing classes in 2017 because, as she puts it, “I needed a project to get me through the winter months!” She quickly fell in love with the form, and bought a wheel for her basement within weeks of her first session. She makes her minimalist, angular forms from unglazed clay, much of which she mixes herself to get just the right texture. As she says, “I just jumped in, and it's still a little hard for me to articulate why that is—I think it's balancing in the same way gardening is because I’m not sitting in front of a computer like I do regularly for the other part of my life.”