Looking back, Joni Jones can trace the start of her passion for pottery to a ninth-grade art class in 1980. “I have always wanted to make things,” she said. “I got a little award in school and that puts a feather in your cap, I guess.” Over the years, she experimented with many mediums, from batik dyeing to watercolor painting and fabric art, but clay called her back time and again.
Jones grew up in Oklahoma City and lived in Houston before moving to Austin, where she spent much of her adult life. It was there in the capital city that she joined her friend in a spontaneous pottery class. “I took two classes back-to-back and just had the bug again, it was like riding a bike,” she said. “It came right back to me.”
Today, Jones lives with her family in Hunt, where she is enjoying retirement on the north fork of the Guadalupe River. She and her husband set their sights on the area after years of visiting friends and sending their son to camp there. “We just thought it would be a nice place to retire,” she said of their decision to buy land and build a home. “It is cooler out here than it is in the city.”
Since moving out west, Jones has found a creative community in the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram. “They’ve got a fabulous ceramic studio there … wheels, kilns, glazes, tools … they have everything you need and it is just wonderful.” Most recently, she set up a home studio in the barn on their property. “I make functional pottery,” she shared of her work, which ranges from $20 to $75. “I like my stuff to be used.” Vases, bowls, and lidded jars are just some of the items she sells over at Bridget’s Basket in Hunt, along with handmade honey pots that she started creating after meeting a few of the honey producers in the area.
Regardless of what she makes, however, the process is a cathartic one, and keeps her coming back. “It’s Zen,” she said. ‘You are so zeroed in on the clay. There is a lot of concentration and you can’t think of anything else. You are totally focused on the piece in front of you and any stress from work or whatever goes out the window.” Over time, she has noticed an improvement in her repertoire, from finer vessel walls to progressive techniques, like perforating and carving. “It is just unending the different things you can do,” she said. “It is definitely a discipline. It has taught me patience because I am not very patient. So yeah, it kind of helps me slow down.”
When she is not at work, Jones finds inspiration in myriad places, from the fine lines of Asian art to the natural forms in her own garden. That simple beauty informs both her collection, called Riverpeace Pottery, and her clean, minimal home design. “After working my whole life and coming out here, I just wanted it to be non-stimulating, very calming, and that is how my pottery is too.”
Follow Jones on Instagram @riverpeace_pottery and pay her a visit at the Hunt Community Fine Arts Show in the Hunt Pavilion over 4th of July weekend.