Presented by Guemes Island Community Center Association (GICCA)
“Enriching and Connecting our Island Community”

Artist of the Month!

Jennie Mimnaugh

For artist Jennie Mimnaugh, beauty is not only in the appearance of a piece of pottery, it's also in the joy it brings when it's a useful part of your life. Read on as we get to delve into who she is and what inspires April's Artist of the Month.

April’s Artist of the Month has lived on Guemes Island since 2008 and since then has donned many different hats. She is a gardener, a chicken farmer, photographer, bread maker, home canner, knitter, camper, bookkeeper, and often that long haired blonde behind the wheel of a Mimnaugh Excavation dump truck. She has her Commercial Driver’s License and also went back to school to learn more about accounting so she could do the books for her husband, Adam’s, business. Jennie Mimnaugh describes herself as a “devoted wife and mother to two incredibly kind kids,” but of late she is taking the pottery world by storm. Unlike a lot of artists, her pieces aren’t the kind that you put on a shelf and merely admire. When asked to describe her work, Jennie replied that she makes “functional pottery that you can use every day.” She added that she also loves making Guemes Island themed items that people can take home and remember their stay. 


September Artist of the Month, Kara Simons, refers to the two of them as clay nerds. Having worked together quite a bit, Kara sees another side of Jennie. “She has incredible research skills and sends me videos and photos constantly about clay… it has been so rewarding to have a partner and support person because there are so many variables in ceramics – and boy do we screw it up sometimes! But we also have each other to share the excitement when things turn out well. Jennie has an eye for design and colorways – her development of glaze layering has been such an incredible accomplishment. It’s no small feat to make over 400 test tiles (which are usually kiln specific- meaning you start over when you get a new kiln) for glaze combinations (they all produce different colors when mixed or layered together). I could not be prouder of my friend and grateful for her ambition and drive to evolve her craft.” She also shared a bit about Jennie’s drive: “This girl absolutely hits the ground running every day… no such thing as a rest day. She is a domestic goddess really; pickles, sourdough, gardening…then add her pottery artistry… I mean she literally gets up at 4 am to throw pots before her 2 kiddos get up.”

Jennie Mimnaugh

Jennie was born in Amberg Germany and grew up in Edmonds, WA. She met her future husband on a trip to Mexico in the summer of 2005, and a few years later she moved to Guemes Island to “build a life I never knew existed. Just by chance, we ended up in paradise, living on Paradise Lane, and so it seemed fitting to name my company Paradise Pottery.” Her interest in clay began in her first art class in school and it has remained with her throughout her life. “A few years ago, I was able to start with a wheel, and then a kiln, and now a home studio. Paradise Pottery is my passion to create functional mugs, bowls (her personal favorite), plates, and lots of other things.” She is attempting to go bigger and taller, but so far, the vases she’s attempted haven’t risen to her high expectations.


In a previous life, Jennie worked retail for 8 years for Walgreens. She learned every position and settled into management and became a training manager. “I loved merchandising and traveled for the company setting up new stores and helping stores move and display merchandise.” If you’ve ever seen Jennie’s displays during one of the Guemes Island Artist Studio Tours, it is evident that this talent has transferred into her world of pottery. Jennie also loves coffee and in 2010 decided, with no training or experience, to buy a coffee shop in town. It was called Northwest Coffee and Espresso. Eventually that expanded with the building of a mobile coffee truck. “I loved everything about owning and operating the coffee business – the staff, the customers, and the pace – but in 2017 I decided to sell and just focus on being a mom.” 


I asked Jennie if she’s ever considered teaching classes, and, delightfully, the answer was yes! “I have been thinking about offering classes or maybe studio space for people to come and make what their hearts desire.” She’s also looking forward to teaching her son how to throw pots. He’s been showing interest lately, so if they aren’t agate hunting or out on the water, that may be a highlight of their Spring Break. 


In answer to the question of what inspires her, she replied “What doesn’t inspire me??? Nature, the beautiful colors of our sunrises and sunsets. I’m inspired by other ceramic artists. I follow many potters on Instagram and YouTube where I learn many new techniques.” Jennie will soon be selling her pieces through Instagram and she’s also working on a website. Until then, you can find her work at the Guemes Island Resort and the Guemes Island General Store. She also participates in the Spring and Winter Artist Studio Tours, the next of which is Saturday, June 8th


Jennie shared a glimpse into her passion. “I really love trying new things and generally whatever I try I end up really liking, but there are only so many hours in the day and I’m trying to focus on what I love the most – my family and clay.” We are fortunate that one of those loves brings us beautiful pieces to use around our homes.


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