BY HANNAH LESTER
Jana Jennings had a bucket list. One of the items on that bucket list was to throw pottery on the wheel.
But, Jennings had no idea that checking that item off her bucket list would turn into a personal business.
Her business, Little Acorn Pottery, has grown a lot since she started learning the skill in 2019. Jennings began with dinnerware but has improved to incorporate new pieces and more intricate designs.
The business’ Instagram boasts of berry bowls, bracelets, jars and tea sets. She also makes decorative pipes.
“In 2019, I was working on a community art project and met a woman who actually was a member of the Opelika studio and offered to give me the rundown and teach me a little bit,” Jennings said.
So, a few lessons later, Jennings decided to take a class with Auburn University.
“I just jumped right in,” she said.
The Open Studio course led to her wanting a wheel of her own. Once Jennings did have a wheel, she still didn’t have a kiln.
“So, I actually joined the Opelika studio and was a member there for a while,” Jennings said. “I would try different techniques there and work on different glaze combinations to make tons of different colors. The problem was, in a studio setting, they are firing on their own schedule and their own program setting.”
Jennings and her sister, who also works on pottery, decided to get their own kiln.
“I just practice all the time and make new pieces and getting my inventory up, trying different forms, different techniques,” she said. “I’m able to achieve the glaze combination results that I’m looking for because I’m able to control the program settings of the kiln.”
2020, of course, threw a wrench in everyone’s plans and careers. For Jennings, this meant making pottery her full-time gig for a while.
“I decided to make an Etsy shop and I was able to start putting things on Etsy and selling that way,” she said.
Now that the pandemic has eased off a little, Jennings is able to work on pottery as a side gig again. And, as restrictions ease, craft fairs and similar events are returning.
“Doing those has really gotten my pieces out into the community,” she said.
Jennings has started small — attending events around Auburn like SummerNight Art Walk and Pride on the Plains. Still, her goals are lofty.
“My dream is for it to be primary income, traveling the U.S. and going to different markets,” she said.
Before that, Jennings envisions a retail space here in Auburn. If she had a physical space, there would also be the opportunity for renting out her kiln to other local potters, too.
She said she is also interested in collaborating with other creatives in Auburn.
The name of her business, Little Acorn Pottery, is a reference to Jennings’s father, who worked in construction all his life.
“I’ve always grown up around wood and craftsmanship and building materials,” she said. “So one of the most common building materials made out of wood is oak. The seed of an oak tree is an acorn. He has three daughters and I happen to be the youngest. So, Little Acorn Pottery was born from being my father’s child.”
Jennings encouraged others to give pottery a try, especially as a method of stress relief.
“Pottery honestly for me has become a therapy,” she said. “When I started it, I was really struggling with nightmares and anxiety and stress … So, when I started pottery and there’s the rhythm of the wheel and the way the clay is formed under your hands and it’s such an organic thing, but if your mind wanders at all, you mess up your piece and you have to recycle the clay. So it really forced my mind to focus.”