By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Photography by Shanna Wolf
Sue Zimmer makes molding clay look effortless. In a matter of minutes, she’s shaped a fist-sized lump of clay in to a small bowl — the subtly ribbed, tree-ring-like texture within the bowl is the only echo of her deft finger work.
Anyone who has tried pottery, though, knows what a disciplined art form it is and how challenging it is to create an even, simple shape.
Zimmer fell in love with this medium after taking pottery classes in high school and college, but it fell to the wayside after she began a corporate career in sales in the printing industry. It wasnʹt until about 10 years ago that she started making pottery again, and for many years after that, she made and sold her work on the side. In 2017, however, she decided to leave her sales job to run her Pewaukee-based Stone Pony Pottery business full-time.
A lifelong animal lover, her pottery business naturally became attached to that arena. One of her specialties is making prizes for dog and horse shows, mostly in the form of handmade mugs, bowls, plates and jars. She also does custom dog print mugs using a mold she casts from the client’s dog’s paw. Her mugs are by far her biggest sellers. Much of her work is also direct to area organizations, companies and events that commission her to create pottery with their logo on it.
Currently, her work can be purchased at Key Pieces Home Décor & Gifts in Merton, Wood Station Co-Op and Sobie’s Restaurant in Oconomowoc, the Olivia di Vita olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop in Delafield and Lake Effect clothing company in Hartland. But she also has an Etsy shop where a variety of ready-made pottery pieces can be purchased. Custom orders, like the dog print mugs, can be requested on her website.
Even though being self-employed entails constantly switching metaphorical hats — from social media to sales marketer to maker — it’s a peaceful life, and her business acumen has made her successful.
“I like to make things that are useful and beautiful,” she says. “I have this real practical side that makes me want everything to be useful. It’s a bonus if it’s pretty, too.”
The Lakeshore Living publications are published by Nei-Turner Media Group, a full-service agency located in Lake Geneva, WI. Our four publications cover the picturesque lake communities of Lake Geneva, Madison, Lake Country and Northwoods.
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