by Logan Gruber
A St. Joseph potter set a Guinness World Record this month by making the most clay pots in an hour – 159 – and he hopes the publicity stunt will bring worldwide attention to his growing business.
Joel Cherrico has been making pottery since high school and after graduating from St. John’s University six years ago with a degree in art, he went into business for himself.
“Once I started throwing pottery on a wheel, I knew I could be happy doing this daily,” he said. “It was physically challenging like a sport, but required finesse and concentration like a musical instrument.”
Cherrico said he has hired nine student interns who have assisted him with marketing the business, each working for a semester or over the summer.
“While you can purchase (my) pottery every day at the Local Blend coffee shop, as well as a few pieces down the street at Joseph’s Hair Salon,” he said, “online sales have steadily required more of our focus.”
Cherrico launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding project that raised $34,099 from people who wanted to own one or more of his newest pieces of pottery while helping him build a pottery studio in downtown St. Joseph this summer or fall.
“I love seeing people eating and drinking from artwork, using pottery daily at places like the Local Blend,” he said. “Their space has influenced a lot of my shapes, sizes and colors.
“However, even though standardized types of pots often sell better, they don’t always help people experience powerful ideas about what art can be. Many pottery ideas, like the Guinness World Record, come from my urge to create challenging, innovative artwork.”
Cherrico set the record as a publicity stunt for his pottery business and for his career as an artist. The previous record was 150 pots.
“Becoming the only person on the planet to hold a world record (in pottery throwing) seemed like the perfect way to reach audiences around the world,” he said.
Cherrico prepared more than 350 pounds of clay to turn into pots in an hour-long pottery sprint. Each pot had to be a certain-sized planter: 4.5- to 5.5-inches wide and tall, 600 grams of clay minimum, wider at the top than bottom and with a thicker top edge than walls.
“I love waking up every day and being able to play the game of deciding what types of pottery I should create to try and make the world a better place,” Cherrico said. “I feel extremely lucky and grateful for opportunities that have allowed me to make a living as a full-time artist, even though these opportunities often require far more hours for far less pay than most careers.”
Joel Cherrico of Cherrico Pottery in St. Joseph prepares more than 350 pounds of clay to turn into pots in an hour-long pottery sprint to set a world record.