Pottery Maker: Curt Hammerly

Technique, passion, and experimentation are the attributes of Curt Hammerly's unique work.

Photo by Paul Miller

Colorado native and Denver-based artist Curt Hammerly turned his side hobby into the world-renowned Hammerly Ceramics by refining his passion for pottery and upping his game on social media. What has since transpired is an amazing body of ceramic work.

What led you to pursue ceramics?

“I had a life-changing accident where I was hit by a car and broke my neck. Honestly, it was the single best thing that has happened to me in my life. It kind of realigned priorities for everything. I was in a traction halo for months, and after that I couldn’t do anything physical, so I took a pottery class at the local studio. When I went back to my day job at CU Boulder’s architecture school, I started to miss it and filled my sketchbook with ideas of pots to make. I ended up going back and taking six classes over three years. I became an apprentice at the Boulder Potters’ Guild, built a tiny studio in my basement, and started an Instagram. Along the way, people began asking me ‘are you ever going to sell any of this stuff?’. I made an Etsy and that holiday season all of my pieces sold out. I kept selling out, kept trying to make more pieces, refining my process, and working on my designs and glazes. It got to a point where I was making as much money in my part-time side hustle as my full-time job.”

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What inspires your work?

“I look at the whole thing as a learning experience. Every time I have an idea of something to try, I try it. I’m constantly trying new things, a certain percentage of it works, and I discount the stuff that doesn’t. Over the past four or five years, just testing hundreds of different things per month has led to the place I am at. I never intended to be where I was, especially glaze-wise, but I’ve just been chasing down the rabbit hole of trying new things. Every single kiln I fire I try to have a couple of experiments. Enough of them are successful to keep my work interesting and fresh.”

Why did you choose Denver as your work/studio space?

“[Because] I grew up five minutes from here. I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life; and my family is here and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Our client base doesn’t include many Coloradans, though we are 95% shipped out of state or internationally. I’ve shipped to Moscow, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand. Aside from Antarctica, we are on every continent.”