Arts & Entertainment

Spinning Positivity at Off Your Rocker Pottery

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All the pottery found here is handmade from start to finish. Meet the dedicated owner and find out how she went from a stay-at-home mom to a successful business owner in just five years.

After mastering the craft of pottery, artist Lindsay Klix began designing practical, food-safe pieces in airy colors for her outlet, Off Your Rocker Pottery. (Loma Studios photos)

Using her superpower of perseverance, Lindsay Klix went from being a stay-at-home mom to a successful artist and business owner in just five years. Offering functional, everyday dinner dishes, the 41-year-old Crystal Lake resident and operator of Off Your Rocker Pottery has gained a solid national and international customer base.

She’s been designing and making pottery since 1998, with a focus on practical, food-safe pieces that go from the oven to the dishwasher to the microwave. Her colors are light and airy and are a direct reflection of her uplifting personality. She takes custom orders and sometimes incorporates those pieces into her ever-changing collections. Pieces start at $25.

“I really like clean surfaces, and colors and glazes that pop,” she says.

A typical bowl begins its life as a wet ball of clay on a wooden tabletop. Klix tosses it onto her wheel, and within seconds it begins taking shape. She makes her pieces slightly larger since they’ll shrink when fired in the electric kiln.

She makes it look easy.

“This is the result of over 20 years of practice,” she says. “As long as you’re consistent with your pressure and movement going up, the wheel takes care of the roundness and symmetry of the piece. I also work to compress it, so it’s nice and strong.”

Much as she shapes and molds clay into beautiful forms, so Klix has reshaped her own life. In the early stages of her business, while navigating through a divorce, Klix found she had to mold negative thoughts into positive thoughts, in order to grow her business and raise two young daughters as a single mom. The typical question, “What if I fail?” became, “What if everything turns out great?” Along that path to transformation, Klix lost 65 pounds of post-baby weight, developed healthy eating habits and carried out her dream.

Today, she delivers functional dinnerware to hundreds of customers, all while offering free recipes on her website, offyourrockerpottery.com. Her blog posts show what can be dished onto her beautiful pieces, and she shares the stories of her successes and failures. Several thousand email subscribers receive a weekly newsletter with newly released pieces and sales notifications.

“There are a lot of different things behind this art other than a dinner plate,” Klix says. “It’s about family meals, which is why I share the free recipes, and I do an artist’s journey blog that inspires people.”

Klix had a toddler and a baby when she started her business. Most friends and family members thought she was a little crazy to pursue pottery full-time, so she embraced the attitude by calling her venture Off Your Rocker Pottery.

She started by forming hundreds of dinner plates, cups, mugs and bowls. After firing the pieces in her kiln, she discovered, to her devastation, that she had received a bad batch of clay. Every piece came out blistered and ruined.

“You can put your best effort and time in, and in the final firing, the piece can crack, the glaze can run, or it can break,” she says. “There’s a lot of loss. It’s heartbreaking.”

That didn’t deter her. She persevered for two important reasons: Delila, now 8; and Delaney, 6.

“I had these two little girls, and I wanted them to do and be whatever they wanted in the world, so I thought, ‘How can I teach that if I don’t go after my own dreams?’”

She changed clay vendors to use a higher-quality product, built up her merchandise again and gained a strong following by shipping her pieces to galleries, boutiques and art shows across the nation.

Klix never aspired to draw or paint; she says her hands are too shaky for that. In the late 1990s, she took college courses in metalwork and ceramics at Elgin Community College (ECC) and discovered they had a surprising fluidity and movement. Once she set up at the potter’s wheel, something clicked.

“I fell in love with the wheel, and I was hooked,” she says. She was a regular in art rooms at ECC and Waubonsee Community College until she purchased her own equipment.

Choosing what to create and sell wasn’t difficult for Klix, who is environmentally conscious. She dislikes the idea of throwing away plastic or paper dishes.

Klix ensures her dishes stack neatly in customers’ kitchen cabinets. Each creation has a soft, smooth edge she achieves with a detailed sanding process. Cups and mugs have an indentation for easy grip, and her bowls have a finished footing. Plates are as smooth as glass. Pieces come in light or dark clay.

“I try to make conscious decisions in packaging and in the way my studio is run,” she says.

Klix uses the least amount of packaging material to safely pack her pottery, insulating boxes with dissolvable peanuts made from starch.

With many repeat customers, she ships hundreds of pieces each year to loyal buyers who get hooked on her simple dishwear.

“The mug and the cup are my ‘gateway’ pots and then it goes up from there,” she says. “They’ll branch out into bowls and sets. I’m touched that they like my work so much. It warms my heart that they keep adding to their collections.”

With her 15-year-old cat, Evette, for company, Klix spends hours each day in her basement studio. She hopes to hire an assistant as business grows, but in the meantime her boyfriend, Joe Golat, helps by carrying 50-pound bags of clay to the basement. (She buys 1,000 pounds at a time.)

Klix handles all of her own marketing, including taking photos or enlisting the help of photographers and artists for logos and photos. She’s redesigned her website several times and chooses blog topics she thinks will resonate with customers. Her work has been featured in top national design magazines and on well-followed blogs.

In October 2018, food blogger Jenn Sebestyen, who runs veggieinspired.com and authored “The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook,” chose Klix’s Funky Farmhouse pottery collection to showcase some recipes.

“We eat with our eyes first,” Sebestyen explains, adding that presentation is everything, especially when it comes to healthy food. “I made a delicious, creamy, dairy-free mushroom pasta and plated it on a dark-clay blue plate. A simple, yet beautiful side salad popped in a dark-clay white bowl. Lindsay’s handmade pottery perfectly complemented my food.”

Sebestyen calls Klix’s work practical, beautiful and functional. “The dishes are easily stackable, all the pieces are sanded and hand-polished so they don’t scratch your dinner table, the mugs have ergonomic handles or thumb notches for comfort, and all of the pieces are food, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe.”

Klix has plans to add new pieces in the near future and experiment with some fresh ideas.

“As an artist, it’s important to pivot,” she says. “Every experience in life teaches us something new. It’s important to learn from those lessons.”

You can stay on the same path, she adds, but sometimes, like the potter’s wheel, “you need to turn.”

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