STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Siena Atkins dabbled in ceramics in high school, but it wasn’t until 2019 that it became a hobby, which quickly became a passion. Now she dubs that passion her “side hustle,” and it’s slowly turning into Steamboat Springs’ newest small business.
After moving to Steamboat from Colorado Springs in 2017, Atkins wanted to meet people in Steamboat’s art community, so she decided to take a class with Julie Anderson at Warehome Studios. The class not only helped to improve her craft, but it also reignited her interest in ceramics.
“Once I started, I couldn’t stop,” Atkins said. “I’ve spent my time since practicing, obsessing and learning as much as I can.”
She became a studio assistant for Anderson and in helping with studio maintenance tasks, such as repairing kilns, mixing glaze and recycling clay, Atkins learned more about the scientific and technical side of ceramics.
As she dove deeper into the world of ceramics, she believed she could start monetizing her passion by selling some of her pieces. Now, her functional pieces, such as mugs, bowls, planters and plates, can be purchased through her website and at The Tall Tulip in downtown Steamboat.
“I love creating functional pieces because I love using them,” Atkins said. “There’s something really special about incorporating art into your daily life, and I enjoy the challenge of creating pieces that are simultaneously functional and beautiful.”
Her pieces, many of which are currently sold out online, feature calm, neutral colors.
“When I begin working, I aim to create an environment for myself that is peaceful, contemplative and simple,” she explained. “Those motifs present themselves in my work.”
In everyday life, Atkins said, ceramics helps ground her and has given her many opportunities to grow.
“It’s taught me that the path to success is paved in failure,” she said. “Clay can be really unforgiving; so whether you’re learning to throw, making a new glaze recipe or trying a surface design technique, you have to understand that it might not turn out. It can be frustrating, but if you frame it as an opportunity to learn, you’ll make progress.”
That mindset has helped Atkins focus on the goal at hand rather than obstacles that present themselves along the way, and it’s a lesson that she passes on to her students at Warehome Studios where she currently teaches small group classes and private wheel throwing lessons.
“I love teaching and introducing people to ceramics because it’s very therapeutic for me and can give you a different perspective,” Atkins said.
Atkins, who has a full-time job as a florist, hopes to dedicate more time to her small business and grow it further in the future.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve monetized my passion, even on a small scale,” she said. “Presently, I do ceramics on nights and weekends outside of my full-time job, but I’d love to grow my ‘side hustle’ into a bigger business.”
Find Siena Atkins on Instagram @Sienas-Studio or purchase pieces on her website sienasstudio.com.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.