Skip to main content
Edit PageStyle GuideControl Panel

#howiAMACO Insta Feature - Q&A with Melanie Westheiden

Melanie Westheiden

Instagram: @swellceramics


With their beautiful graphic imagery, Melanie's mugs evoke a long drive along the coast or a hike in the desert. Waves, mountains, cacti; her bold use of color and sgrafitto; swirled and speckled clay bodies all make for effortlessly playful pieces. Her love for art is rivaled only by her love for animals. The underglaze gradient on her signature wave mugs creates a visual effect of warm sunshine on the horizon and inspires an early walk along the shore, sipping your favorite morning brew.

What sparked your interest in working with clay?

I actually went to college to study photography. I took a pottery class for fun and I ended up falling in love with it! I took every pottery class they offered and even did a Directed Individual Study.

What inspires your work?

My work is inspired by my gorgeous home, the Outer Banks. My work is also inspired by my travels, especially my 2016 hiking trip to Utah!

What do you love most about clay?

My favorite thing about clay is how it can be used over and over again. Whenever a piece doesn’t turn out how I want it, I can just recycle it and start over again. It teaches quality and patience.

What is most challenging about pursuing professional ceramics?

The most challenging part of pursuing ceramics has probably been people doubting me. I often get the joke, “Oh you better find a rich husband!” These frustrating and negative comments only motivate me more to prove these people wrong.

Which AMACO products do you return to that inspire your work?

I always use the AMACO Velvet Underglaze! I love these products because there is a wide variety of colors and my designs are never compromised by a glossy shine. They also have a great ability to blend, which is crucial to making my designs successful.

Finish this sentence: I would rather be ___________.

...a dog! Who doesn’t want to live the chill lifestyle of a pup?

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

Not myself, that’s for sure.

If you could hop on a plane right now and go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would go back to Utah and possibly never return. I absolutely loved being surrounded by the vastly different landscape. It felt like I was in another world. It really humbled me to be around the mesas and formations that were all way greater and older than myself.

When you aren’t making art, how do you spend your time?

I work at the Outer Banks SPCA taking care of all the doggos awaiting their furever homes. When I’m not at work or making art, I’m at the beach or hanging out with my own two doggos, Nala and Roxie. They’re pretty much my whole life besides pottery.