Potter creates ceramic sanctuary in her basement

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Katie Webster is in the basement of her St. Cloud home.

With the “This American Life” podcast playing in the background, the 2006 Sartell High School graduate is working on her pottery wheel next to her husband’s weight bench. When she has formed the right shape out of clay, she’ll move near the washer and dryer where there’s an electric kiln.

“I have to not feel rushed or pressured when creating,” Webster tells the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/1iDsdtk).

Her basement studio provides that sanctuary.

Webster, who spends most of her free time sketching or making pottery, sells her artwork on her website. She sold more than $600 in products during a recent St. Cloud art crawl.

“She gets zoned in down here,” said Andrew Webster, Katie’s husband. He engineered a special vent to allow the 1,200-degree electric kiln to be in the basement.

“She’ll come down here to do a simple task that takes five minutes. Then she’ll get absorbed into it and do much more - and then she’ll be down here for an hour or two hours.”

Katie Webster knew she wanted her own studio the first time she visited the Sartell home of Peder Hegland, which included its own pottery studio. Hegland’s daughter Robyn later became the maid of honor in Katie’s wedding.

“I basically wanted their whole house - my future goal was get that studio,” Katie said. “That was a big inspiration.”

Peder Hegland, who sells pottery out of his Sartell home, said he admires Katie’s work.

“I think she’s come a long ways for how young she is,” Peder said. “In pottery, it takes a long time to figure out where you want to go with it. It takes years, but she is well on her way.”

Katie, the daughter of two college professors, started taking classes from local artist Claire Witt when she was 8 years old.

One of her oldest pieces, a painting made in Witt’s class, is on the wall of her basement studio.

But Katie’s biggest passion always has been pottery.

She studied ceramics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she met Andrew in a drawing class. She chose the school through the Princeton Review.

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