Mandy and her mom have a special bond. Multiple times a week I hear them full belly laughing to the point of tears over something silly. Usually they are laughing at themselves.
Mandy credits her mom with so much of the way she views the world.
Linda’s natural eye for beauty and visual harmony has long been an inspiration for Mandy and has informed her own aesthetic.
They both can hustle at incredible speed, while thoughtfully creating very detailed beauty. I’ve never been anything but impressed while watching them work together on projects, even if it's just making a table look nice for a family dinner.
Linda spent countless hours processing strawberries and bunching flowers in the early days of the farm. When we worked 105 hour weeks and couldn’t afford to hire help, Linda was there to get us over the finish line from one project to the next.
We were a well oiled machine when the three of us used to do wedding flowers after finishing farmers markets. Mandy had the bulk of the vision, Linda would fine tune a good deal, and I’d carry ladders and buckets. We’d roll in with a moving truck and cargo van full of flowers, cover an event space in whimsical beauty, and be packed back up and back on the road within 3 hours
Always pleasant to be with and filled with sage advice, she helped to steer this farm in more healthy directions. We were running ourselves into the ground and nobody had a better view of it than her, so her gentle nudging held a lot of weight for us and eventually bore fruit as we began to take a broader view and give emphasis to caring for our aging bodies. I can’t thank her enough for her help in making those changes.
Efficiency of motion became a strong theme thanks to her.
I mentioned last week that we needed a way to thank her and Tony and just like Tony, she fell in love with a craft or two when we gifted her time at John C. Campbell Folk School. She has been a painter for most of her life, but after a few classes at the folk school and some practice she became an incredible jewelry maker quickly, however she felt even more called to pottery and that love only grew after taking more classes at Good Dirt here in Athens (another gift to her from us for all her help). She has not stopped studying the art since and eventually purchased her own wheel and kiln once the pandemic hit. Though she has her own studio now she continues to take classes each week at Good Dirt to further her education as well has to hang out with her wonderful group of pottery ladies, aka The Dirty Ladies.
The evolution of her work with graceful shapes as well as with pictographic embellishments has been phenomenal. The pieces in the farm store right now are so varied, yet so harmonious, and so beautiful that it's a bit jaw dropping. I can’t help but stop and stare each time I walk through and I’m notorious for being oblivious to my surroundings.
The following is an excerpt from an interview we conducted with Linda:
M: What was your first inkling of creativity that filled you as a youth?
L: When my sister used to play with Barbies, I used to be the set decorator. I didn’t know how to play Barbie, but I knew how to make the clothes and design the sets for our fashion shows at the window.
S: You made the clothes too?
L: Yes, we couldn’t afford things like Barbie clothes.
S: Both you and Mandy, you make any situation more beautiful. You focus on making it more grand and more inviting.
L: It’s just what I took up with. I don’t know, (laughs) I just like doing that…it’s like oh, I can add on and have fun with it…whatever it may be.
L: Also, I’m a little OCD. I can’t have something hanging off center. And whatever I get into, I can fall into it, deep.
S: Is there something about pottery that has drawn you in?
L: Well, it looks easy, but it’s not. So there’s this challenge. I’ve been at it only 8 years and I think it’s still so unknown to me. I do what I can and I can see myself growing, but oh my goodness. I shoulda started younger.
S: So you find the challenge aspect of it compelling.
L: Oh yeah. And I love doing new things. But for 3 Porch, the object is to make vessels for the farm’s flowers. I can draw your flowers on the vessels and even use the fresh flowers to make molds for more elaborate designs to apply to the vases. So even though it’s based on one object (a vase), I can always.. add on (laughs).
S: So most of what you are doing in pottery right now is focused on flowers and the farm store?
L: Inspired by all of that. I mean, I just went and cut flowers this morning from my garden to be able to use as inspiration. I like to be able to use a real flower to put in the design. Not somebody else’s thoughts, I want it to be mine. When I look at it, I know what inspired it. That’s important to me. For instance, I recently made a whole series of vases with dahlia etchings because it’s what’s happening in the garden right now.
S: Is there an excitement when you fire something, like an anticipation? Like will it all blow up, or is it gonna turn out beautiful? Do you like that, or is it scary, or is it both?
L: It’s horrible (big laughs). Well I don’t like to glaze, cause it's too much of an unknown……you put it in there and have this idea of how it’s gonna come out, and it comes out completely different.
S: Is that a metaphor for life?
L: (laughs) Fortunately Mandy likes more of a raw, earthen look for the farm store vessels, so I’ve developed a technique that avoids too many surprises. I can make it hold water at a certain degree of firing without glaze. I like that and I do sgraffito, which is a scratch design on the surface. I do a lot of decorations on the surface. I like to try new things and so far it's all been well received.
S: Very well received.
L: So I just continue to push forward. I love when, just going through my day, a little something will catch my eye and spark up inspiration. You just can’t wait to get back in the studio and take that inspiration and try it out. That’s what fuels me.
S: How much of your pottery is done on the wheel right now?
L: All of it.
M: Do you love me?
L: I love that child so much. Better than my luggage.
M: What’s your favorite cocktail?
L: I’m pretty partial to those negronis too (This was Tony’s top pick last week), but you can only have one or two because, I mean, just go ahead and strap 'em to your thighs. I do like my Pinot Noir too. (Laughs) I’m sorry, but I do (Her and Mandy both have a weird allergy to red wine).
A hearty thank you to the amazing woman that is Linda Rovolis for sharing all of her talent, kindness, wisdom, and good humor with us. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you Linda!
***Shout out to Rob and Jess for all they do over at Good Dirt. They have created a magical space for many creatives over the years. They offer pottery classes for all levels. They also hold a Fall and Spring Pottery sale each year that should not be missed.