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Spotlight on: Sandy Hilton

Sandy Hilton’s passion for pottery was inspired after watching a National Geographic film in grade school about an artist making pottery on a wheel. Today, the clay artist is vice president of the Folsom Arts Association and a member of the El Dorado Hills Arts Association, and has shown her work at the Gallery at 48 Natoma, Harris Center’s Bank of America Gallery, and the Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center in Burbank. Creating functional, colorful bowls, mugs, and other works of art, Hilton also shares her expertise by teaching pottery through the Folsom Parks and Recreation Department. “If creating art makes you happy, stick with it,” says Hilton. “The [artistic] process in itself is healthy, and the end result is not as important as the enjoyment of exercising your creative mind.”

HLN: What are common themes with your work?  

SH: Nature is the primary influencer of my work, while animals and landscape impressions are the main themes. My pieces are primarily functional, and people who collect my work like its practicality and colors that evoke the natural world. 

HLN: Are there challenges to working with clay? 

SH: I’m intrigued with the process of forming wet clay and then letting heat and glass perform the final results. There in lay the challenges—a lot happens inside the kiln that you can’t control. Every time I open the kiln, it’s exciting to see if the kiln gods were favorable to me.

HLN: How have you evolved as an artist? 

SH: I took a ceramics class in high school and went on to pursue an art degree from Cal State Northridge, where I honed my technical skills and grew a deep appreciation for the arts. In 1978, I began teaching and have enjoyed sharing the joy of pottery making with hundreds of students since. I also had the good fortune to help design and develop an art center and gallery in Burbank and eventually brought those skills to Folsom, helping to cultivate their art center and the Gallery at 48 Natoma. After working for Burbank, Glendale, and Folsom Parks and Recreation for a combined 34 years, I retired in 2013 and [finally] have time to make pottery and teach. 

HLN: What do you enjoy most about teaching?  

SH: Sharing my love for pottery with students is equal to my love for creating art. I’m thrilled when they’re successful and take joy in their delight. Students are curious about techniques that aren’t necessarily in my wheelhouse, so I’m always challenged to expand my skills and creative outlook.

HLN: Is there anything you would have done differently in your career? 

SN: Life evolves and doesn’t always move in accordance with your plans. I would have loved to spend more time creating my own artwork instead of working full-time. However, the work led me in directions I never would have dreamed of, so overall can’t imagine changing anything. I now have the good fortune to concentrate on my art like I always dreamed of.