For Brooke Gehman, his pottery work is about using his skills to craft something that’s not only practical and unique, but also about following what he believes God directed him to do.
“It was like something God used to stir me up,” Brooke said about a series of dreams about his days as an apprentice in pottery making. “I really do believe that God uses dreams like that. I don’t normally have dreams like that. But these were so vivid.”
Brooke, who operates Gehman Pottery Works in Adams with his wife, Dana, said the dreams were reminiscent of a time more than two decades ago when he was learning his craft under the guidance of Elk Falls Pottery in Kansas.
He said he would awake from his sleep nearly feeling homesick, but believed in his heart it wasn’t a longing for Kansas, but more about working with pottery again.
Brooke and his family had relocated to the area in 2005 to work with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) just outside of Adams, following a number of years living on the East Coast and making pottery for a living.
While he hadn’t done much with pottery since moving to Robertson County, the art was “always something inside me,” Brooke said, and soon learned it was something Dana felt God was leading them back to as well.
“In 2015, we felt like we were supposed to get back into pottery,” Brooke said.
Initially, they were nervous about it, he explained, because, for one, neither of them were from the area.
Plus, Brooke openly admits he’s in no way a salesman, and they felt they “weren’t good at business,” a fact they reminded God of as they were being led back to pottery making.
So, they joined the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce and also became a vender during the 1st Friday Night Market, held monthly between May and September, on the Square in Springfield.
Those two things, Brooke said, “just opened so many doors,” specifically noting that the biggest chunk of their business has come from Robertson County during the last year.
“It’s been so encouraging since we weren’t from here,” Dana added. “We weren’t sure if we would have a place here. We feel so warmly embraced.”
The business operates out of the Gehman home, where Brooke spends his time in a corner room shaping clay on the pottery wheel, otherwise known as “throwing.”
Using his skills, he molds an array of styles, shapes, sizes, and also puts his artistic abilities to use by sculpting designs on certain pieces to give them a special flare.
For example, one of his favorites, according to Brooke, are his “face mugs,” as he calls them, which feature carefully sculpted designs of unique facial attributes.
Additionally, he has sculpted some of his pottery mugs with a robotic facial appearance, and teapots with a sort of industrial-like look.
“I get an idea in my mind, and I run with that for a while. I am always trying new ideas,” Brooke explained. “I don’t ever want it to just become a job.”
Dana, when not working as a nurse in Springfield, handles the glazing of the pieces her husband designs and sees that they are fired in the kiln, a special furnace or oven used for making pottery.
Some of their kids, of which there are seven, lend a helping hand from time to time with the business as well, the owners said.
Brooke can make anything, according to his wife, that is, as long as it fits inside the kiln. Bowls, mugs, pitchers, crocks, plates and teapots make up their product line for the most part.
These days, the owners say Gehman Pottery Works is seeing a large demand for mugs featuring specialized logos, and they have “made a ton of honey pots.”
It may be his full-time job, but Brooke said he wants what he makes for his customers to bring them joy.
“To us, we want it to be more than just making a living,” Brooke added. ”We want it to be a bright light to others.”
Today, the Gehmans are looking forward to having additional space for their business once their pottery shop — which is under construction next door to their house — is finished.
“We felt like God was leading us to this. We’ve just done whatever (business) comes to us, but it just keeps coming. We give God the credit for that,” Dana added.
or more information or to order pottery, call 615-310-1114 or go to gehmanpottery.com, which also provides a link to its Etsy page. The business can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.