By Bruce Karnick
Hastings is home to a brandnew business, Squeaky Wheel Pottery located at 209 Sibley Street. Squeaky Wheel Pottery is the creation of Babett Larimer and her husband. Larimer came to the US from Germany in her midtwenties as part of a nanny exchange program where she met her husband. They lived in Seattle for a couple of years and then moved to Minnesota. They have called Hastings home since 2004.
Larimer has a background in education having been a teacher, curriculum coordinator and director. She has been the Director of the St. Paul Germanic American Institute for the last 11 years.
“As the director of two German immersion preschools in St. Paul and Minneapolis I speak German to 1–5yearolds every day and to our teachers and I love it. Have loved it forever. It’s been a great community for me to have a little bit of my home and heritage around me. I also love working with children, so I am hoping to use some of that educational background for classes and maybe even some summer camps for kids. Right now, for the beginning, it will be adult classes in the studio space,” explained Larimer.
The studio space Larimer discussed is one part of their roughly 1,000+ square foot space. The studio has a large workbench for working on various projects outside of items that would be made on a pottery wheel. It also has six pottery wheel stations, a large drying rack and a large countertop with a sink. The studio is quite spacious even with its smaller footprint, as is the store front. The storefront is warm and welcoming with an open feel. There is a handicap ramp to the studio and additional store space that is up a few stairs.
Larimer found a desire to work with clay sometime around 20042005, “my children were young, and I had always wanted to try it. I worked on it for a couple of years. But then with young children at home, and they were involved in sports and things like that, I didn't have the time to do it all the time. Now that my kids are both in college, I've decided it was my turn again. For last four, four or five years, I've just continuously worked with clay and been able to improve my skills and get better and more efficient at it. It has been my newest and oldest passion, I enjoy it, it is therapeutic for me, it’s my outlet. Clay demands your attention, your focus, so, it is a little bit like yoga. We all have these feelings of control that we need to have all the time and clay has also been a medium that has been teaching me to let go of some of that a little bit because you need to just sort of embrace the imperfections embrace the little flaws and yeah, the kiln gods have the last say usually. So, it's been really a process of learning and meditation almost in a way sometimes. I'm hoping to create a space that people will feel the same way or have the same experiences. The space should be just open and creative and positive and that's my hope for it.”
After discussing the studio space, Larimer expanded on her thoughts for the store. “I'm hoping it's a little bit of a one stop shop for them. gift a housewarming present or something for themselves, or for Mother's Day gift or something like that to just stop, pair it with like, buy a mug that speaks to them that they like, grab a little tea, a little local honey and make a little gift package out of it and be on their way. I also will have gift cards available online that people can order.”
A key component of Squeaky Wheel Pottery is the pottery is all handmade by local artists and the other items are locally sourced as well. In fact, of the pottery, Larimer estimates that she makes 2530 percent of the pottery for the store while three other potters make the rest. All of the products made are food safe, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe.
Squeaky Wheel Pottery storefront at 209 Sibley St will be open Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Monday through Wednesday being studio time to replenish products for the store. For more information, visit them online at www.squaekywheelpottery.com or call 6513270176.
Photo by Bruce Karnick