Photographer: CW Newel
Katherine Tucker grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but always had a place in her heart for Birmingham. With family there, she had always thought of Birmingham as a second home. In the heart of the Civil Rights district of Birmingham, Civil Stoneware was born.
Katherine studied ceramics in college, and had been throwing pots for about 19 years when she started her company. Her career after graduation led her to merchandising and buying for a small market in Crestline Village, and eventually to prop styling and production for commercials and feature films. Then, in January of 2017, she decided to create something for herself. Though a new company, Katherine feels in her heart that it was a long time in the making.
Life’s circumstances have allowed her to travel a lot, and each place she visits holds new inspiration for her. Europe, Canada, Australia—each new place she visits, she scours each city she’s in for inspiration, and always finds it. Even as a little girl product and product design fascinated her. She would flip to the back of magazines—Martha Stewart Living was her favorite—and call all the companies in the resource section to get their catalogues. Her family got an enormous amount of junk mail, but to her it was pure gold.
The goal of Civil Stoneware, aside from providing people with unique and passionately designed products, is the inspire people to find the thing they were created to do. This desire to inspire is directed not only at her customers, but the creative people she works with. Each artisan that makes up Civil Stoneware is a freelance artist. Katherine knows first-hand that the studio life can be lonely, but also knows that when they all come together to make something, beautiful things happen. She’s constantly encouraging her team to pursue their own dreams.
While her operation is small, with only about eight artists working with her, she is confident that the passion and encouragement within the team, Civil Stoneware will grow exponentially and positively affect the entire community. Her ability to encourage those around her comes from her mom, Vivian, who constantly supported her, especially when Katherine wanted to give up. She instilled in her all the things that encompass Southern culture—tradition, respect, honor, slow living, and, of course, the importance of family.
Katherine is thankful to have grown up in the South, with a large family who knows how to give. Gifting handmade items has been a tradition in her family for years, She cherishes the tangible difference between a bought gift, and one made with love and care. This difference is what fuels Civil Stoneware.