About Front Avenue Pottery and Tile
"Working with clay enables me to craft works of art that function in everyday; in our kitchen, on our table, held in our hands, used hundreds of times with family and friends. They are to be used in and to illuminate the endless cycles of life that surround and consume us every single day."
Front Avenue Pottery & Tile established 2001, designs and creates fine crafted, high quality,
playfully decorative dinner and serving ware & clay tile.
A BFA graduate from the University of Minnesota, artist & potter, Mary Jo Schmith, was
undoubtedly influenced by professors Warren MacKenzie & Mark Pharis and their commitment to
functional pottery. Now with 20 years of clay production experience she works daily to produce
inspired functional fine craft for your table, kitchen & home.
Front Avenue Pottery and Tile is located 2 blocks south of Como Park, St. Paul, Minnesota.
With an open door policy the studio & its gallery are open to visitors during studio working
hours, M-F, 8AM – 5PM, & gladly by appointment.
Stoneware crafted by Front Avenue Pottery is wheel thrown and often altered to produce
interesting yet functional forms. Some dinnerware pieces are hand built from rolled clay. The
pottery is always worked in a series; several similar pieces made at one time.
Front Avenue carries on the tradition of working raw clay into quality, functional stonewarethat is durable and finely crafted. The studio houses two 40 cubic foot natural gas kilns; it’sdinner & serving ware is reduction fired to 2300-2350 degrees *F, vitrifying the clay & giving the studio’s glazes a warm coloring.
Studio formulated & prepared food safe glazes are dipped, hand brushed, slip trailed or
airbrushed in playful decorative motifs often repeated in series or sets, making each piece
Lead and Barium free, Front Avenue’s pottery is food, oven, dishwasher & microwave safe.
Inspirations for the studio’s decorative motifs can come from something as insignificant
as a daily walk in St. Paul’s Como Park…the budding of the Chinese Chestnut tree…to
something more purposeful like a study of the Blue Heron…many hours of paper
drawings happen prior to any ceramic decoration.
The pottery’s decorative imagery expresses an ongoing fascination with the cycles of life
that surround us everyday. References from nature...the animals, fish, the sun... illustrate
some very basic elements of our lives, such as water, air, soil, animal and plant; images
of nature that move with us through our lives. Cycles that continuing year after year
regardless of our current destination.
Clayworking is first and foremost a learned craft. Skill and technique,
accumulated through practice, defines a pot’s quality. Enhancing articles
we use everyday with images important to our daily lives make it all the
Like farming, clayworking is a lifestyle, almost never free from the
process of clay’s constant change.
A love for the beauty of craft, the science of raw materials & the unpredictable forces of fire keep every pot a new challenge.