Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Judith Kenigson is a very special member of the Make Nashville community. As the mother of Make Nashville’s founder, Matt Kenigson, it is rightfully so that without Judith, our beloved non-profit wouldn’t be here today. Sitting as President on Make Nashville’s board of directors, Judith carries on her late son’s legacy. A potter since the ‘90s and the Ceramic Shop Captain since Make Nashville’s inception, Judith conjures a community within ceramics (and throughout the makerspace) and generously shares her passion for and knowledge of the craft with all interested makers.
Learning herself from Master Potter Lena Lucas, Judith explains that she was drawn to the art because, “I love the tactile part of it, I love having my hands in mud; it brings out something playful in you and at the same time you can be very creative. Also, clay is very forgiving so you can make one thing with it and then you can squish that and make something else. You can just keep playing and inventing with it until you make something that sort of captures your spirit.”
That, Judith explains, is one side of the making pottery and, as for the other side, she explains that it is also very useful. From kitchenware and pots to decor, Judith has made countless pieces that serve a purpose in her everyday life as well as for those who have been gifted with (or purchased) her pieces over the years.
Interested in seeing her incredible talent for yourself? Take a look at a selection of her pieces on display in Make Nashville’s meeting room. The pots you’ll see were thrown on the wheen and fired using a 16th century method called Raku. During the Raku process, pottery is fired in a scorching kiln that reaches up to 1,830 °F. This is a unique form of firing for the fact that it is incredibly meticulous and yet the extraordinary results of the finish are up to the laws of nature and how a combination of elements painted or placed onto the clay will react together in the kiln.
As with anything that brings you joy, it is only natural to want more of that thing. For Judith, that quickly became ceramics. Having a hobby you’re passionate about “…gives you a reason to get up in the morning,” Judith reveals. “If you’re thinking about something you’d like to do, you’re just going to jump out of bed and think ‘I really want to try that!’”
On the same not of inspiration, Judith continues, “Pottery keeps my mind thinking things like, ‘I wonder what would happen if I did this,’ ‘I wonder what would happen if I tried that,’ ‘what if I fired it at a different temperature,’ ‘I wonder if I can make Raku waterproof,’ ‘how can I figure that out?’” What may seem overwhelming to some is the fuel for what Judith refers to as a “tantalizing adventure.”
Knowing that time is not only being well-enjoyed but is also standing still when she is at the wheel, Judith concludes, “If I would stop working so damn hard and take more time to have fun, I would be a lot more present in my life.” With that, we’ll say that it’s a great thing when we see Judith in her studio. It is in those moments we know that her heart and soul are full.