Shop Local: Bethany Slater Ceramics

Find her pretty mugs, bowls and planters at pop-ups and festivals around the DMV. Musical note: She also makes oboe reeds.

A ceramic mug by Bethany Slater (courtesy photo)

The double reeds of an oboe are as individual as a kiss, shaped for the oboist’s lips and unique playing style, but many musicians lack the skills or patience to design their own reeds. A trained oboist, Bethany Slater studied woodwind performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. That’s where she began making reeds for fellow students. 

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Photo by Lindsay Coughtry

“It snowballed from there,” she says of her 17 years creating and selling orchestral paraphernalia. Her design repertoire includes reeds for various woodwinds ($30-$32), reed cases ($85-$115) and wooden oboe stands ($85-$100)—and now, ceramics.

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Bethany Slater. Photo by Lindsay Coughtry

Slater delved into pottery after her husband gifted her classes in 2017. “If I hadn’t gone to music school, I would have gone to art school,” she says. These days, she has a dedicated pottery studio in her home, where she designs stoneware earrings ($28-$42), planters in pastel shades ($35-$96) and a variety of stoneware goods ($35 and up). Her ceramics can be found at pop-ups and festivals around the DMV, with permanent locations at Shop Made in DC and Adams Morgan plant shop Plntr. 

Music is still a parallel passion. Slater remains an actively performing oboist in Inscape Chamber Orchestra, a Grammy-nominated outfit that performs at venues throughout the region, including the National Gallery of Art, Strathmore Music Center and the Kennedy Center.

“Reed-making is incredibly touchy,” she says. “Clay is also, to a certain extent, but I’ve dealt my whole life with organic materials—earth and plants—that you have to be thoughtful about to mold and make.”

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Categories: Style