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Island Artisan: Jennifer McCurdy

Jennifer McCurdy

Where the magic happens: McCurdy’s home studio in Vineyard Haven. Photo by Paige Biviano

Her work is completed once she eventually fires the piece twice in her kiln. From start to finish—whether it’s a smaller sculpture, like the 7-by-10-inch “Coral Nest,” or a larger one, like her latest design, the two-foot-tall “Radiatori Vessel” (“Like the pasta!” she notes)—it takes McCurdy about a month to complete a piece. “You could say a piece takes me about a month, or you could say it actually took me about 40 years, because that is literally how long it took me to develop the skills,” she says. “This is what I’ve done every day for all of those years.”

McCurdy, a native of Newport, RI, says the first time she ever threw on a potter’s wheel was in Birmingham, MI, during her sophomore year of high school. Her art teacher, she recalls, would always tease her—but in a loving way. “I know you’re back there, I see all of the dust coming up!” McCurdy says she would hear her teacher yell. It turns out her teacher never threw a pot herself—McCurdy says she initially learned how to throw from watching a film reel in class about pottery. But that was enough to get her hooked immediately, she says.

McCurdy went on to study at Michigan State University, then Florida Atlantic University. She and her husband, Tom, along with their three children, spent 15 years in Florida, where she routinely exhibited her work, doing 20 to 25 shows a year. In 1993 they moved to Martha’s Vineyard, re-establishing McCurdy’s roots—her family is originally from the island.

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