Handmade: Potter Anna Eaves of Raleigh's Arrow + Sage
After trying several different careers, in both design and property management, Anna Eaves found that pottery was where she felt most at home.
In August 2013, encouraged by her husband, Eaves, 31, quit her job to fully explore a more hands-on creative life. Her company, Arrow + Sage, is the result and her pottery has been sold here as well as in Canada and Australia.
“Because I had the time to throw myself into it and get my feet and hands dirty, it went pretty quickly,” Eaves says.
Eaves grew up in Hillsborough, graduated from N.C. State in 2007 and stayed in Raleigh. Her mother is a potter in Hillsborough, although Eaves notes that her mother’s work has “much more of a rustic feel.” Eaves creates each piece by hand instead of using a wheel, working from a slab-building technique.
For her mugs, she uses a rolling pin to create a rectangle, eventually turning it into a cylinder, to which she then adds a bottom and a handle. After being left to sit overnight, the pieces are then fired in a kiln for hours, then glazed and fired again. Details like the gold arches in some of her newer mugs, are done by hand and fired once more.
Along with mugs, she also makes jewelry dishes, ring cones, tumblers and bowls. Her line grows in part because, she explains, “I try to do something different and that will spark me thinking about something else … And I’ll sort of run with an idea until I’m really tired of making it.”
Eaves began selling work in 2014 under the name Arrow + Sage and then in 2015, began to get orders for wholesale from places like Ramble Supply Co. in Raleigh; Pigeonhole Home Store in British Columbia, Canada; the online retailer Meus; and the Sydney, Australia, shop The Assembly. In 2016, she formed a relationship with BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding brand. (On the BHLDN site, a set of four 7-inch gold-trimmed plates by Arrow + Sage cost $120.)
Of the latter, she says, “I knew in the moment that if I said no, I was going to regret it when I was 45.” By working with these businesses, she was able to build up a customer base quickly. However, in some cases, working with these businesses meant reigning in her creativity in order to meet their requests.
Having done the “big brand thing,” Eaves is now focusing on selling directly to customers through her website, as it allows her to set the pace. “I also want to enjoy my life, and I want to enjoy my art and (wholesale) is a lot,” Eaves said. “Last year, I was hardcore into it, all the time working crazy hours.”
Raleigh’s Ramble Supply Co. has carried the entire Arrow + Sage line, including mugs, plates, and jewelry dishes for about a year.
“We started carrying her after finding her on Instagram and she has such a great following. I was happy to discover she was also local. We just loved her style, her clean aesthetic, and it did really well at Ramble,” said owner Jessie Connor. “It’s very impressive that she works so hard on each piece and they come out very streamlined; it doesn’t look handbuilt, which is crazy. It’s a lot of work.”
Connor added: “It’s exciting to kind of feel like you’ve discovered these little gems in Raleigh and to see them grow is special.”
From wholesale back to selling to customers one by one, Eaves’ path is still growing with each item sold, as she works toward a life more handmade and more on her own terms.
Betsy Greer is a Durham-based writer who writes about craft and activism at craftivism.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Eaves sells her Arrow + Sage pottery at arrowandsage.com. Prices range from $15-$45.