RAYMOND — Shoalwater Pottery is built from locally, natural, sourced materials and a lot of hard work. Aaron Van Ornum and Kandice Caldwell, owners of Shoalwater Pottery, are dedicated to making a rare product that will function and look beautiful. Their devotion to nature inspires these rare pieces of pottery art.
The story of the business and its success started with each artist and their artistic journey.
Aaron Van Ornum moved to Raymond from Seattle. He’s lived in Pacific County for 20 years. He creates pottery as part of his dedication to primitive living skills. With pottery he was excited about the prospect of creating whatever he wanted while incorporating the beauty and resourcefulness of nature.
Caldwell created pottery in high school and college as one of many forms of art she mastered. Her goal was to open an art business and farm. After meeting Van Ornum she started making pottery with him and enjoyed it because she could create artistic pottery and spend time with Van Ornum.
Their partnership in business is an effortless blend of their pottery mastery; however, the circumstances that brought them together was not as seamless.
The couple met while hiking with a mutual friend. Caldwell knew the friend through a Portland college farm program. Both Van Ornum and Caldwell accepted the invitation to spend time with their friend. There was no “love at first sight.” It took a couple of meetings for the couple to “click” and start their relationship. Now they happily live in Raymond in a home on property which provides the space for Caldwell and Van Ornum to grow food and maintain a pottery studio.
Both potters have their specialties. Caldwell primarily uses Oregon red clay to make such products as pie plates and she has pioneered the tea mug. Most recently, after customer requests, she started to make shaving kits. Van Ornum uses a porcelain clay to make leaf mugs which use leaves from the area, and pour over coffee sets.
They both make a variety of items not just their specialty items. This organized business was making 27 items a day for the Victorian Christmas Show they recently attended in Puyallup. This show is an example of the artists expanding their range for shows and art fairs. Because they are now ready to just work on their pottery business (with no other outside income) they are attending artisan shows with more consumer attendance. However, they will always maintain a local presence.
They will always have a local presence as the start of their business was supported by local customers they appreciate. They acknowledge customers from Raymond, South Bend, and Tacoma as the foundation of the expanding business. The support of the community and direct sales has given them the ability to integrate Online sales in 2019.
“… The community has been positive, encouraging, even from the beginning stages. I feel really grateful to do it [Shoalwater Pottery] here,” said Van Ornum
Whether using direct or online ordering, Shoalwater will now accept custom orders. People have left comments on the social media accounts to request certain products. The shaving kits are an example of Caldwell and Van Ornum’s vigilant customer care. They hope the community feels their gratitude for their support, the artists’ love of nature and its reflection in their work, and the fact that they use locally sourced materials.
“We are both really, really happy in this beautiful community,” said Caldwell.
Van Ornum and Caldwell use the four classical elements — fire, water, air and earth — with their pottery. These elements are often said to be an energy force that nurtures everything in the physical world. Making pottery that centers on nature produces a product that is literally part of the community and reflects the reverence of art. Both artists want nothing more than this for their business and lives.