Meet Julia Finlayson, the Evanston-based ceramicist who creates ceramics of function and beauty. Her work is timeless yet perfectly suited for any space it finds itself in. Heirlooms in the making.
Coming to ceramics from other creative avenues, Julia's career shift celebrates how embracing new skills and passions can lead to growth and exploration in both work and life.
We recently collaborated with Julia on an exclusive line of tiny ceramics aptly named Tiny Dining. Each piece was lovingly and meticulously crafted by Julia to create warm and special moments on your table with people you love. Enjoy learning a part of her story!
Hi Julia! Would you tell us about your background and childhood?
I have always leaned more creative in my pursuits. Being born in 1970, I experienced an abundance of culture that inspired me. My father was a photographer, and both my parents valued art. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time at museums and listening to music.
I have the skill of visualization, so I've worked in many realms. I’ve dabbled in photography, film, interior design, had a successful kids' clothing line, and now I make ceramics.
What drew you to ceramics?
I took a neighborhood class several years ago and it just stuck. I loved it. Besides that, I am self-taught, and I've been doing ceramics full-time for about five years now.
I often struggle with imposter syndrome because there's so much I still don't know. I’ve never made a coil pot and please don't talk to me with terms like iron oxidation. The business part is still a struggle for me, as there's a lot to learn. Accepting all advice!
When did you launch Grandmont Street? How has it evolved over time?
I actually launched Grandmont Street (which is the street I grew up on in Detroit) by making recycled leather and suede (and faux) earrings. Over time it has evolved into ceramics. The more time and practice refines and hones in my unique style. I've been able to work with some truly amazing shops along the way.
You do amazing miniature work! Could you tell us more about your love of tiny things?
My love of miniature goes back to my childhood. My sister and I have always been wild about anything tiny. I have always purchased tiny treasures for my kids too.
I started making little vases because when I worked in a flower shop styling arrangements, little sprigs would fall off and I wanted a way to display them. I began making tiny vessels for tiny flowers.
What projects are you working on now?
I am trying to streamline some basic pieces (mugs, bowls, etc.) to carry on my website. My lines and glazes are timeless designs (that's my hope anyways!) and my spin on the forms makes them unique. I would love to do commissions for restaurants, hotels, and people’s homes!
What are some of your favorite shops that carry your work?
Oh lord. I truly love them all. Asrai Garden was the first to carry me, and they are still massively supportive and collaborative. I am lucky to create so many unique things for them.
Sojourn has stocked me since the beginning as well. Stacia has an incredible eye. A beautiful shop in Iceland now carries my pieces which is cool! And, of course, I am thrilled about this collaboration with Martha Mae because I’ve been such a huge fan of this shop for ages.
Who or what brings you inspiration?
I love to page through art books and think about uses for objects. I sketch and doodle about the thoughts in my mind.
What's Julia Loving?
All of the pens and pencils!
I have a favorite pad of paper that my household knows is special. We rarely tear pages off of it, so it’s nice to look through. I also just bought a tiny glass that I treasure.