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.
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.
“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.
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.”