Emerging Lane | Shaping a Business by Hand

An artist proves that creatives can make a living with their crafts

By Kathie Stamps

Sarah Workman of Elizabethtown has fashioned a career around custom pottery and recently launched Paper Wolf Ceramics.
Sarah Workman of Elizabethtown has fashioned a career around custom pottery and recently launched Paper Wolf Ceramics.

The subject of an elective class in college turned into a business for Asbury University graduate Sarah Workman. The Lexington native, who now lives in Elizabethtown, knew she wanted to major in art. She could draw and paint and did well with printmaking, graphic design, 3D sculpture and other mediums. Then she took a ceramics class in her sophomore year.

“I was terrible,” Workman said. “Working with something so malleable and fickle, where even the slightest slip of the hand could cause your clay to fly off the wheel, proved to be difficult and incredibly frustrating. Thankfully, I am very stubborn and kept at it with hopes of improving.”

Improve she did. Soon after graduating from Asbury University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015, Workman started her own business, Paper Wolf Ceramics.

“The start to my business was something that just made sense,” she said. “I had continued to make pieces after my graduation and realized that having my own small business could actually be feasible.”

Before becoming a sole proprietor, she worked as a barista in downtown Lexington at Daily Offerings Coffee Roastery, which “helped to give me my start by selling my coffee mugs in their shop.”

In addition to the Roastery, a home gift and garden shop called Denizen in Elizabethtown is selling Workman’s wares, most of which are functional ceramics from coffee mugs and travel mugs to dinner sets and mixing bowl sets. Shoppers appreciate that what they are buying is handmade and locally made. And, yes, Workman does take custom orders.

“I truly enjoy taking someone’s vision and turning that into a physical piece,” she said.

Workman’s goal this year is participating in art fairs and farmers markets and getting into the Kentucky Arts Council’s directories.


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During her senior year at Asbury, Workman had the opportunity to study under a potter and sculptor in Paris, France, for three months.

“There, I spent two days a week working with six French ladies who had been taking classes in her studio for the past 10 or so years. It was a happy and relaxed environment where I learned how to sculpt a face out of clay and how to be more relaxed with the pieces I created,” she said. “Every piece did not have to be the same, and the slight differences gave a distinct personality to each piece.”

A college instructor once suggested the students imagine themselves 30 or 40 years down the road and picture what they might be doing.

“After thinking about that question, I realized that I saw myself still sitting at a pottery wheel in my little studio,” Workman said. After a year of ceramics classes, she took a leap and bought a potter’s wheel “and dedicated myself to achieving that future that I had pictured. I am still learning and growing in my craft and feeling blessed every day.”

Being a ceramic artist is her full-time job, even though Paper Wolf Ceramics as a business has had a slow start.

“I am thankful to have a husband who can support us both while my business is gaining momentum,” she said. “Kentucky has been an amazing place to start up my ceramic business, because there has been a greater importance placed on local and handmade work. More people are beginning to realize that everything tastes better out of something handmade.”

2 Comments

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  • I love Sarah’s work! I have two lovely pour over mug sets from Paper Wolf Ceramics. So excited to see where your business is headed.

  • It has been a joy watching Sarah’s work evolve over the years. Her pieces have become more and more beautiful, and range from delicate to sturdy. Each is art in it’s own right.
    I only wish I had more of her work in my cupboard!

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