Meet the ceramicists of NBC Pottery who are building a business – and a community – that celebrates the handmade.
The Callnans work out of a home studio in Angwin, in the mountains above St. Helena. Art can’t thrive without commerce, and this location puts them in close proximity to the Napa Valley’s most innovative restaurants and wineries—the kind that value presentation as much as food.
“We bring a lot to the table, literally,” says Will, of their nature-inspired wares. “There’s something so different about eating off a handmade organic plate; it warms up the whole experience,” adds Nikki.
Chefs regularly drop by the studio to collaborate on designs, and the Callnan’s live-work scenario makes it easy for the couple to check on their clay, which is dynamic and in need of frequent attention. It also means their two young kids are growing up involved and immersed in art, both at home and in the greater community.
When the Callnans first moved to the Napa Valley 13 years ago, they taught art while building their business and relationships with a fledgling group of painters and musicians. “Now the arts community is blossoming big time,” says Will. “It’s great because we create together and we have exhibits together.”
The Callnans encourage visitors of all ages to get their hands dirty at the studio. “We’ll sit down and throw with them, and we show them the range of work we have,” says Will.
What unites all their work is a deep connection to the Napa Valley and its contours. Nikki explains how they create raw edges and rims inspired by local mountainscapes; they will even press a rock or piece of wood into the clay, translating those textures into their products.
“Napa Valley is gorgeous, and sometimes the inspiration is just in keeping your eyes open,” says Will. “For us, we’re makers, we’re wired that way.”