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j.j. Fish to feature Salisbury potter during 2nd Friday

(Aug. 13, 2015) For Salisbury resident Robbie Johnson, pottery turned from a casual interest into a growing business he now operates with his wife, Sarah.
Johnson is the featured artist at j.j.Fish Studio/Gallery on14 North Main Street during the 2nd Friday art stroll in Berlin tomorrow night.
While he was always interested drawing, painting and music, Johnson said it was through his wife that he developed a passion for ceramics. Sarah was taking a class at Salisbury University when she brought home a bag of clay for a coil-pot assignment.
“I watched as she started rolling out long snake-like coils of clay and was excited to play with it myself,” Johnson said. “I tried it and fell in love with the feeling that I could create almost anything I could imagine. I was hooked after that.”
Johnson admitted it took time to develop his talent.
“I was saving a lot on birthday and Christmas gifts,” he said with a laugh. “I started reading books, looking at articles on the Internet, watching any videos I could find on making pottery and researching any artist whose pots blew my mind.”
He soon found work as the head technician at the ceramics and sculpture lab at Salisbury University, giving him an opportunity to sit in on lectures and use the facility outside of class.
“Working directly with the teachers helped me improve my skills,” he said. “The need to answer any questions a student would have when the teachers were gone drove all those skills and that knowledge into my being.”
Experimentation was also a key component of Johnson’s development as an artist.
“I’ll read or hear about a technique, imagine how I could apply it in my work and try it,” he said. “Then I store the information in what I call my ‘tool box.’ I consider what works, what fails, what could I change or how can I get a similar effect. Most importantly, what are my limits and how can I break free of them?
“Every piece of art I make is the culmination of knowledge from every piece I made before it,” Johnson added. “A lot of people ask, ‘how long does it take to make that?’ To me the answer is my entire life.”
Today Johnson and his wife operate Amused Studios from their home in Salisbury, making functional and decorative pottery, including mugs, jars, platters, bottles, wall sconces and ceramic hand drums.
“Working with Sarah is great,” he said. “We really push each other to continue to make new work.
“Having another person to help organize the whole effort is very helpful,” he added. “It would be very difficult to get the amount of work produced that we need to make without her. I can start mugs one day then she can come back and finish them or vice versa. She is also great at glazing and making new glaze recipes for our work.”
Johnson said he enjoys making objects, “that excite me and hopefully make people stop and take a few moments to wonder about it.
“I love to make forms that have been altered, pushed, squeezed, or carved to make each unique and have a bit of character,” he said.
Mugs, in particular, have been a hot item for Amused Studios. Their work can be found in breweries, coffee shops and art galleries throughout the Eastern Shore, including Burley Oak Brewing Company, j.j. Fish, and the Worcester County Arts Council in Berlin.
“I love hearing about how people have their favorite mugs and drink out of them every day,” Johnson said. “I’m glad I can bring happiness to people through a piece of artwork everyday.”
The couple will also show work in the upcoming Clay Guild of the Eastern Shore Member’s Exhibition at the Art Institute & Gallery in Salisbury, running Aug. 12 through Oct. 9.
“There are limitless aspects of ceramics that I can explore,” Johnson said. “I want to keep learning as much as I can. The sky is the limit and I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to finding out.”
Berlin’s 2nd Friday festivities will feature more than a dozen different art displays in shops throughout the downtown area, along with sales and specials in area restaurants from 5-8 p.m.
For more information, visit or search “Berlin MD Arts & Entertainment” on Facebook.