‘JUST FOR FUN’: Santa Rosa Beach artist uses clay to ‘create happiness’

Jerry Mitchell

“That’s my favorite time is when you’re still working with it,” says Santa Rosa Beach artist Jerry Mitchell, who is always enjoying his studio time with a cigar. The stogies are multi-purpose, and he uses the cigar ends to make the proper sized hole in the mouths of his people so they can also enjoy a nice cigar.

Special to The Sun
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM.

In 1993, Jerry Mitchell tried again to make a living out of clay.

His first attempt as a full-time clay artist came about in the 1970s, when he took it up professionally after graduating from the University of Montana.

At the time, Mitchell as a young man didn’t know how to market his works, and “I was broke within six months,” he said.

He put it down in 1980, then worked selling insurance and working as a farm hand, among other vocations, until picking it up 13 years later.

“At some point I decided I wanted to get back into it … I have been making a living out of it ever since,” said Mitchell, who for 10 years has been creating works of art out of an at-home studio in Santa Rosa Beach.

Mitchell makes functional pieces, bud vases, large bowls, and baths and houses for birds, but his most recognizable pieces are quirky vase-like people.

These hand-sculpted statues are made to resemble whimsical characters such as pirates, fishermen, doctors and cowboys. Mitchell calls these creations “My People” and inscribes them with cheeky names such as “My old fishing hat,” “I’m paradise for the right pirate” and “Do you want to be my ride, cowboy.”

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