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Omaha Magazine

Food For Thought: Artist Sarah Hummel Jones Explores the Space Between Comfort and Change

May 23, 2023 03:34PM ● By Olivia Greene
Sarah Hummel Jones AC Visual Omaha Magazine June 2023

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Sarah Hummel Jones - Clay Club Ceramics [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
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Sarah Hummel Jones molds clay to shape, glaze, and fire iconic American cuisine—ceramic pretzels, fried eggs, and pizza slices. Yet, each piece’s title hints at a subtext bubbling just beneath the surface: the malleability of perception. The food Hummel Jones chooses to sculpt is based on what that item can “be transformed into.”

“I like [to make] stuff you would see every day, but maybe you're not paying attention to it as closely as I am,” Hummel Jones said.  

Her brand, Clay Club Ceramics, is represented by what appears to be a haphazard doodle; upon closer inspection, the image of a flower in bloom materializes. This logo encapsulates the free-formed, yet highly intentional, style of Hummel Jones. 

“I call it elementary drawing, as opposed to a more realistic form. Grad school can be so uniform and strict, and I was making pieces to break from that practice,” she said.

When Hummel Jones sits at the wheel, often with Kendrick Lamar albums playing in the background, she brings a bucket of water, a small circular sponge, and a wooden pottery knife. She prepares to throw anywhere between one and 10 pieces at a time, flow-state permitting. 

“I would turn on music and then just sit down in my space and get started. I often take breaks because I've got a pretty short attention span that I think that’s important to mention,” Hummel Jones explained. “I think a lot of people have the idea that I'm in for like, hours on end nonstop, but I often take pretty frequent breaks…[in part] for peace of mind.”

After the clay has been thrown and kneaded to satisfaction, the glazing process begins. The glazes she uses are either applied in a traditional dipping fashion, or are carefully applied with a squeeze bottle to form precise, filigreed designs. She has a natural proclivity for bright, effusive colors—though more subdued complexions, such as neutral earth tones, are often used in work to be sold to the public at pop-ups. 

“I've tried to incorporate colors that other people might like. Green, red, or brown tones and whites…for those who like neutrals,” she said. 

At past art shows, Hummel Jones has inspired a sense of wonder in those who may not have considered the unrefined, yet intricate composition of a pretzel. Her 2019 installation “I can't remember” is composed of over 20 pretzels—all vaguely similar in appearance, yet challenging observers to look closer and get lost in the subtle variations between each snack. 

“At that time, I was really interested in creating multiples that were on a smaller scale that could then create a piece that was much larger,” Hummel Jones noted. “I also love making the same thing over and over again because producing ceramics is fun and enticing to me.” 

The pretzels are mostly glazed in salmon pinks and mustard yellows, while the baguettes and dinner rolls sold to the public are precisely shade-matched to a realistic ‘bread loaf' beige.’

Hummel Jones’ Instagram followers can’t seem to get enough of the cupcakes, pancakes, and especially the fried eggs. 

“I've been picking fried eggs for a while, but then recently went vegan. So now I write the hashtag vegan on the back,” she said. 

Many Americans can relate to the impulse of looking to food for comfort. Hummel Jones likes to form sculptures out of the mundane, but she also relates these items to the experience of being human and the struggles inherent to everyday life—and how practicing mindfulness, embracing new perspectives, and engaging one’s creative side can break the spell of routine.

“If I couldn’t draw, I don’t know what I would be able to do; I’d probably just be staring at a blank wall,” Hummel Jones confessed. 

The inward experience of mental health struggles is turned outward by Hummel Jones, into something to be held and considered. What might be interpreted as American ‘junk food' is something more than meets the eye: comfort, yes, but also, personal transformation. 

“When you speak of it in terms like that, it really hits some other strings,” Hummel Jones said. “There is a mundaneness to the experience of living, while at the same time, there is limitless possibility.”

At time of writing, Hummel Jones is working on a line of functional ceramic pottery, including planters, vases, bud vases, cups, mugs, and plates. 

To browse, commission, and support her work, visit or her Instagram page @clayclubceramics. 

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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