Originally from Hamburg, Germany, stencil artist Anja Bartels discovered pottery making while living in an intentional community in Virginia. Passion ignited, she returned home to study in the German Ceramics Guild, which honed her skills in a way much different from the typical experience in American art schools. With a strong focus on craftsmanship and technical skill, Guild training provided her with the groundwork for making a quality product paired with the practical experience of working with a master potter for three years. The apprentices must engage in all aspects of the business, including marketing, sales, accounting, and production.

Anja’s nautically themed porcelain employs several different techniques including slip trailing, sgraffito (a technique where underglaze is painted onto greenware and a design is carved back through, revealing the clay body underneath), poured and sprayed glazes, and a unique resist technique used in the making of her beautiful urchin bowls. These bowls are thrown and trimmed on the wheel, then several thousand small slip-trailed spikes are applied using a surgical bulb while she listens to audiobooks about shipwrecks. Anja’s personal aesthetic and process are consistent and highly developed, reflecting her upbringing in a port town and her love of ships and the ocean. It is as if her pieces were born in the sea.