Featured Artist: Brit McDaniel

Posted on April 1, 2014


By Marlena Jones

dsc_0249Tucked away on the residential streets of Memphis’ Midtown neighborhood is 777 South Cox Street; indistinguishable from the outside, but inside is an art factory home to a handful of local artists’ galleries and studios. There, in studio #8, is Paper and Clay, a modern ceramics studio whose sole owner and artist is Brit McDaniel, a University of Memphis graduate with a BFA in Ceramics.

First started when McDaniel was still a student at U of M and working another job, Paper and Clay focuses on utilitarian and modern pieces. Now her studio has actualized into a successful business and her main job, much with the help of a Kickstarter project funded in early 2013. In order to fulfill her vision, McDaniel describes her inspiration as being drawn from American and Scandinavian mid-century designs. Each of her pieces is hand-thrown and glazed, carefully completed with an almost acute attention to detail. While visiting her studio, McDaniel started to throw one of her mugs and confided that while it may take other potters maybe 10 minutes to do what she was doing, it will generally take anywhere from a week to a week and a half for that mug to go from mud to finish. After throwing it she’ll let the mug dry completely, and then she’ll fire it, dry it again, glaze it with one of her homemade glazes, and finally fire it
once more.

Her homemade glazes are a key distinction between Paper and Clay and other ceramics studios, with personalized colors and a matte, satin-like finish. In the short time McDaniel’s been up on her feet she’s made some huge breaks for Paper and Clay, notably her popular Copenhagen Coffee Mug, pictured, being featured in Real Simple Magazine.

Currently, her pieces are being sold in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art Store, in addition to vendors in New York City and Los Angeles, and she’s working on collaborations with Oxford store Amelia, Austin jewelry store Son of a Sailor, and Memphis store Hoot + Louise. And that’s only a few of her stockists to name. McDaniel’s found what we all look for in
life: being successful doing what she is passionate about, even if it’s challenging.

You can find some of her pieces in her Etsy shop and on her website. All of the pieces are handmade items and made to order, and some are even flexible with color. McDaniel also does custom orders, for example a large teapot for a wedding registry. I love that her pieces are all functional and classic.

My personal favorite is a set of two mint tea/saké cups that I found while browsing her Instagram.

While McDaniel notes that one of her favorite parts of Memphis is our amazing restaurant scene, particularly in Victorian Village, it’s hidden gems like Paper and Clay that characterize why I love Midtown, and Memphis in general. They give life to this city with their individuality and imagination, truly making Memphis one of the most unique cities in the country.

To find out more about Paper and Clay, visit the Facebook page.

Posted in: Arts