Ceramic sculptor trades teaching for Bath studio

Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

BATH — For 27 years, Jenny Mastin taught art to high-schoolers. No longer. Now, the ceramic sculptor is pursuing her true passion.

Mastin owns Jenluma Clayworks Studio, located in the Swindell Cash Store building in Bath along with Eileen Sanger’s Sanger Art Studio and Gallery. The two women recently teamed up to breathe artistic life into the circa-1905 restored building on South Main Street, their studios tucked into the back, just yards from the creek.

While Mastin works with clay, she is not a potter.

“I’m a hand-builder. I don’t do anything functional. It’s all hand-building, slab, coil, pinching. I don’t even own a wheel,” she said.

(Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)

Her work ranges from smaller pieces — each one of a kind, though a part of a greater series — to larger, figurative works inspired by the divine feminine and the strength of women characters, such as the ancient Hebrew story of Lilith captured in a strong face, framed by tribal headdress and breastplate. A series of small wall boxes is textured by a collection of hand-made stamps or things she’s picked up off the ground, found on a walk. The smaller pieces are her best sellers; the larger works are an outpouring of her love of anthropology in art.

“These kinds of pieces are when I have enough inventory pieces that I can just come in and lose myself in more complex and larger pieces,” Mastin said. “I really don’t do these until I have the freedom and time to do it uninterrupted. The smaller works come first and then the larger works come next.”

FIGURATIVE: This larger sculpture by Jenny Mastin is a narrative piece that speaks to how water sustains life. (Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)

Born in Washington, Mastin spent the majority of her childhood in the Plymouth area, then headed west after graduating from East Carolina University. Her work has been featured in a number of galleries in the River Arts District of Asheville, including the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts, other galleries in Knoxville and a studio in Morganton.

“It’s been wonderful being back in eastern North Carolina. The mountains are beautiful, and I enjoyed my time there, but it feels good being back home,” Mastin said.

She shared her artistic knowledge in high schools, as a part-time instructor at a community college and in private classes, but after retiring and moving back to Beaufort County in April, she’s traded teaching for the hands-on work of hand-building.

“I enjoyed it while I was doing it, but this is my reward,” Mastin laughed.

Mastin and Sanger are hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1, an open invitation to see the art being created at Jenluma Clayworks Studio and Sanger Art Studio and Gallery. Both studios are located in the rear of the Swindell Cash Store building at 103 S. Main St., Bath.

For more information about Mastin’s work, visit Jenluma.com, the Jenluma Clayworks Facebook page or call 828-525-0350.