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//Casey Stelter, owner of SheWolf Studios, holds one of her art pieces, a ceramic vase sculpted out of doll faces. Lafayette on May 10. Photo by Polina Saran | Polina.sarana@gmail.com

SheWolf Studios’ inventory is literally eye-popping. A commonplace macrame plant holder becomes transformed with colorful beads and yarn woven together. Rather than a ceramic pot, a baby doll’s head sits in the center with bulging eyes and soil spilling over. The plant creates an almost-macabre living hair-do for the spent toy remains. 

A trio of “profanity pots,” small and colorful ceramic pots say “fuck,” “shit” and even, “cunty.” On a cross-stitch hoop the word “let’s” is woven and below it is tied a clavicle—“let’s bone.” These are the cheeky and brazen creations from local artist Casey Stelter.

The burgeoning artist has a bone pile in her backyard—the remains of an antelope, a raccoon skull and a few other scattered pieces—that she saves for projects. Growing up with a taxidermist father whose workshop she spent much of her childhood in, Stelter has a history of finding beauty in the inconspicuous.

“I want to know how things are made and, in my brain, try to break it down—that’s fun for me,” Stelter said.

Today, Stelter is the proprietor and sole artist behind SheWolf Studios, an up-and-coming pottery and macrame business that takes the unseen or forgotten to make something new, sometimes eye-popping by upcycling. Upcycling is the practice of taking something old or discarded and reusing it to make a different product. 

The eclectic nature of her store reflects her interests. Stelter has a background in music therapy, practices cross-stitch, creates macrame, and more. She likes to dabble and gets nervous about pigeonholing herself into something specific. “I like to have things I can rotate to keep myself from burning out,” she said.

Stelter isn’t simply inspired by her surroundings but actually uses them in her work, upcycling her resources.

“I used this baby doll head and arms for molds, and I made an incense holder. It’s a ceramic baby hand and the incense stands in it,” she said. Or the vase, whose rough and asymmetrical sides are the repeating faces of said baby doll.

The idea for that particular project might have come from her grandparents, who gifted Stelter porcelain dolls growing up. Though creepy to her then, she wonders now if that’s why she utilizes upcycled doll parts. 

For Stelter, it was the move from Texas to Colorado that gave her the freedom to express herself. Growing up in the Bible Belt with colored hair and tattoos she didn’t have that sense of freedom. 

“When I first moved here, I was very inspired,” Stelter said. “The community and the atmosphere of Colorado itself provided a safe space for what I wanted to do.”

She had first discovered a passion for pottery while thrifting in Austin during college.

When discovering what initially was just a hobby, Stelter collected mugs that specifically looked like they were handmade. After moving to Colorado with her husband, Stelter took up pottery classes, wanting to get into the community and see what it was about. That’s when her passion project turned into a profession.

With a full-time job in social work and SheWolf Studios as her side hustle, Stelter benefits her community in more ways than one while keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive. What inspiration she’s received from Colorado she’s put right back out into the universe.

Stelter humbly admitted that she still feels like a novice, with so many aspects of pottery that one can dive into. But pottery is a business industry just like any other, and she’s doing her part to pave the way for female potters. Stelter has noticed that pottery is a somewhat male-dominated field. 

“There are quite a lot of female hobbyist potters, but the high-end and high-grossing artists tend to be male,” Stelter said. However, it seems that more and more women are stepping up to the plate. “Who’s to say that what you’re creating, or your experience, is lesser than,” she said.

While she continues to grow her business, Stelter plans on participating in markets and pop-up shops. SheWolf Studios was a featured shop at The Cactus Coven in Longmont from last October through January and will return for a one-day pop-up on July 24. Stelter hopes to find more similar opportunities throughout the summer.

Wherever the road takes her, Stelter does have a few prerequisites, one of which is staying local. “When I tried to sell on Etsy in the past it really burnt me out trying to keep it up,” she said. The other is to keep things casual. “I think the more I structure it, the more I’m afraid it’ll become too structured for work.”

Stelter is planning on getting her own kiln so she can do it all at home. She said once she gets to that point she’ll feel more inclined to have her own website. 

In the meantime, SheWolf Studios is on Instagram and offers a glimpse into the creative process and the resulting “arts and oddities.” Selling small-batch and upcycled pottery and macrame, Stelter’s creations are utterly unique and entirely handmade with a healthy dose of attitude.

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