Studio Visit

J Schatz's Shiny Happy Pieces

The maker of bright birdfeeders and other whimsical ceramics lands in Boothbay Harbor.

Peter Souza and Jim Schatz, of J Schatz
TEXT BY JESSE ELLISON
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KRISTINA O’BRIEN

From our Winter 2021 issue

You can track Jim Schatz’s career as a ceramicist by walking the length of shelving in his new barn studio in Boothbay Harbor. There are his latest free-form lamps, their white and metallic bases conjuring mounds of raw clay; speckled-stoneware bowls with colorful interiors designed to go from oven to table; and amorphous pour-over coffee makers, made to replace the Chemex versions he kept breaking. In front, where a glass garage door beams in light, are egg-shaped birdfeeders, birdhouses, and pin-holed night-lights in poppy colors with mirror-like finishes. The feeders (which are so sleek, Schatz insists they’re squirrel-proof ) were named one of Fortune’s 25 best products of the year in 2004, and helped launch his J Schatz line. Soon after, they were picked up by national retailer Design Within Reach, and Schatz estimates he’s made some 28,000 objects since.

ABOVE Peter Souza and Jim Schatz’s J Schatz line, produced in their Boothbay Harbor barn, encompasses ceramic pendants, birdhouses and feeders, table lamps, and dishware in a rainbow of shades.

Fittingly, Schatz started with ceramic eggs: tiny ones he fired in a test kiln in his Manhattan apartment. He expanded to birdfeeders when he moved upstate and found himself immersed in nature. Formed by hand, from slabs, and in plaster molds, his products often end up in a spray booth, where they receive his signature flawless finish. In 2014, Schatz met his partner in life and business, Peter Souza, who has helped develop more organic pieces. The two moved to Los Angeles, then Providence, before looking for a coastal spot with more land.

Advertisement

Peter Souza and Jim Schatz’s J Schatz line, produced in their Boothbay Harbor barn, encompasses ceramic pendants, birdhouses and feeders, table lamps, and dishware in a rainbow of shades.

They closed on their current property on four acres early in the pandemic. “That really dark time, we filled it with doing what we had to do here to make it home,” Souza says. In the barn, they created a lower-level workspace and an upstairs gallery featuring a rope swing with a glossy-white stoneware base, hourglass-shaped lamps in candy colors, and hanging orb sculptures as playful as paper chains. With the move, the couple has stepped away from large-scale production. “We’re focusing on one-of-a-kind work and things that are more ephemeral,” Schatz says, such as a bowl woven from strips of clay like a basket. Another change: the pair finally has a place for their many bird amenities, which shine like Christmas ornaments in the apple and pear trees that line the driveway.

J Schatz is open by appointment year-round. 378 Lakeside Dr., Boothbay Harbor. 207-315-6440. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *