Today everyone knows me as Patti Petit, the Running Rabbit Pottery Lady. But to family and childhood friends I have been and always will be “Bunny”. I was born in the Year of the Rabbit. My birth month is the month of the Rabbit Moon. My animal is the rabbit -- busy, nurturing and probably getting in everyone’s way. When I came to clay it was natural for me to call my studio Running Rabbit Pottery.
How I got there was from being a teenage painter in New Orleans to becoming a clay artist in the Northeast Georgia Mountains -- a long but joyous journey.
Life took one of “those turns.” I was no longer raising four children; managing five acres of gardens and vegetable crops and no more teaching. I missed the ever new scenes of nature around me, and I had been let go when my office closed. Job hunting filled some time but my fingers ached –- not to paint. I believed there were images, vignettes, in the clay, and I needed to root them out. I went to the University of South Alabama bookstore, bought 50 pounds of clay, three trimming tools and a sponge. In no time I was set up in the kitchen. My children feared I had tipped over the edge. If I had, clay had grabbed me, and it has never really let me go.
I continued studying anything about clay I could find. When I retired and moved to Cleveland, Georgia, I found a studio with classes my first week. I have always been a teacher at heart, loving seeing people “get it.” So, I was privileged to teach clay hand building to physically and mentally challenged adults for five years.
Through church, I met Jaymi Hampton who is also a Lady Fingers potter and a born encourager. She invited me to follow her to The Georgia Heritage Center for the Arts. I kept growing in clay, mostly sculpting small animals -- kittens, rabbits, crabs and the like. It was easy becoming part of the clay community in this nurturing environment. When the highway department took the gallery, I missed the tribe that had adopted and nurtured me.
Then a group in Helen, Georgia, decided to open an art and local history gallery. A dear friend and artist, Helen Greear, invited me to join. Shortly after, one of the members, Susan Holmes, asked if she could visit my studio and interview me for a newspaper article. Sue came, visited, met my studio cat Pippi Longstocking and asked if I gave classes. For three years Sue and her friend, Missy Whitlock, studied and had a glorious time in the studio. We learned so much. We shared our laughter, tears, triumphs and failures.
Our tribe is many things more than clay, but clay found us, joined us and bound us. I am still the Running Rabbit, trying to pack as much into any studio day as possible. The studio grows and the emphasis changes as it should. My long-ago gardens find life in clay. The trees around me provide inspiration for new work. You can find a bit of my world and my shop at Running Rabbit Pottery on Etsy.