There’s a reason Niki Crosby named her business Happy Clay. Her finely textured forms are simply effervescent. “There’s a happy chaos to my pots,” Crosby explains. And that’s purposeful. She’s deeply influenced by her travels to Eastern Europe, where she met and photographed Romanian gypsies.
Crosby’s patterns are “without precision or pattern.” In the same way the gypsies “wallpaper” their walls with discarded fabric-printing woodblocks, she applies glaze to her slip-cast forms. “I want pieces to look handled even if they’re new,” she says. “I want them to have an age, a history to them.”
Crosby is a former New Orleans, La., resident. She had several businesses, working as a photographer, web programmer, graphic designer and even running an entertainment business called Paparazzi Parti—all simultaneously. In August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Crosby was overseas, wrapping up a photography shoot. She was on an international flight to Washington, D.C., when she saw the levees break on a newscast from her laptop. “I was officially homeless,” she says.
Crosby and her husband evacuated to her parents’ summer home in New Hampshire, where she spent the first nine months plugging away at her businesses. In 2006, the couple moved near Harrisburg, Pa., both for its inexpensive housing market and low risk of flooding. Once there, they set about rebuilding their lives, purchasing and renovating a home—and turning the basement into her studio.
Crosby wasn’t new to clay. “I fell in love with clay in high school,” she explains. “It was the smell, the touch.” The medium is her creative outlet. She shared studio space in New Orleans starting in 2000, but didn’t seriously set out to sell her work until 2009. She opened an Etsy store, and the buyers came. In droves.
Crosby’s main focus now is tableware, but don’t expect her to stick to the same path forever. “I have a series of sculptures I’m working on,” she says. “I am also passionate about interior design, and have little mental vacations about expanding my textile designs to linen or fabrics.”