For the Love of Clay


Talon Smith is a ceramicist working in the Polish Hill neighborhood of the city.  A Pittsburgh native, her family came from Budapest to work in the coal mines back in the 1890’s, and she has no intention of leaving at this point.

This city is known for people that work with their hands, which makes Talon’s familial roots even more relevant to her career in ceramics.  She talked to me about growing up and her challenges with staying engaged throughout high-school. It was her art classes that kept her going, specifically her experiences working with clay.  It only makes sense that she now teaches ceramics to at-risk youth during the day, and during afterschool programs, at Manchester Craftsman Guild.  It’s the perfect outlet for her to pass on her love for clay.

In March, NCECA (the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) will be holding a conference in Pittsburgh at the David Lawrence Convention Center, and Talon is looking forward to taking some of her students.  She told me, “I’m excited to see people that I admire in the field.  But I’m even more excited to see the students that we’re bringing to the conference, who are interested in clay.  They’re going to be so stoked, and I look forward to the ideas that they will have, that will come from it.”  She went on to say that it’s important for her students to have the opportunity to see artists outside of their teachers, who are making a living in the field, in order to give them inspiration.

In terms of her own work, Talon makes functional pots.  She is currently in the process of expanding her line to include mixing bowls, colanders, and home goods specific to the kitchen.

If you’re interested in seeing more of her work, you can find her on Instagram or check out her website.