Colorado State alumna kneads a little pot from Colorado

Christina Vessa

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Photo credit: Christina Vessa

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Janis Smith sells “A little pot from Colorado” in several different colors. The gifts are also available as “A little pot from Oregon.” (Photo credit: Christina Vessa)

Colorado State University alumna Janis Smith has used her business degree, ceramics skills and a little pot from Colorado to build Relative Pottery. The self-proclaimed, “country girl,” from Newport Beach came for CSU in 1993 to graduate with a degree in agricultural business, which reflects in her work, according to Smith.

Smith uses the pottery studio in the back of her Laporte home to produce a unique gift that capitalizes on Colorado and Oregon’s legal use of marijuana. These little pots have been making people in Northern Colorado, and all around the world, giggle when they see her product.

“I have a neighbor, a young girl, who has a fairy garden and a doll house,” Smith said. “She wanted one for her house, so I made four.”

“A little pot from Colorado” became an unplanned play-on-words for Smith. The miniature clay pots are individually packaged in a small plastic bag, as marijuana is, and rest in front of a colorful mountain landscape.

“I asked my husband about the idea and within two weeks, word had gotten out on the Internet,” Smith said. She said that her first shipped sale paid $21.25 for overnight shipping to Canada. One of her other customers had a little pot shipped to Germany.

Art history student of CSU Christine Mantey met Smith through the Northern Colorado Potters Guild. Mantey said Relative Pottery’s “A little pot from Colorado,” is an innovative idea.

When Scott Theiman, who has been a friend of Smith’s for seven years, first found out about her idea he knew it would be an exciting journey, telling her to “hang in for the ride.”

Smith said that she has experienced an increase in orders in the past few months, and her studio makes it comfortable to do what she loves.

The wooden sign on her old log home says, “Aunt Janis.” Outside of her studio window, donkeys, chickens and cats can be seen grazing against the hill.

These little pots are not the only thing Aunt Janis throws; her assortment of ceramic designs is one of a kind. Other pieces from Relative Pottery include speckled braided bowls, striped berry catchers and brightly painted pet bowls which express her colorful attitude.

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This white mug with a brick design is a unique piece from her selection. Smith sells individual pieces rather than a collection of similar designs. (Photo credit: Christina Vessa)

“I love where I live, so I am at peace with where I am,” Smith said.

The little clay pots demonstrate how she can do something that she loves while involving the community in her fun.

“The clay can tell you what it wants you to make,” Smith said. “I usually grab a thing of clay and figure out what I can do with my funky tools.”

Smith’s craving to be different is apparent in her product.

She hopes that Relative Pottery will still be around in the year 2020, where she sees herself throwing as a hobby and selling ceramics at festivals on the side. For now, Relative Pottery keeps life in perspective for Aunt Janis.

Collegian Assistant Editor Christina Vessa can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa.