About Me

Where to Find Me and My Work

Outdoor studio

Visit my online store at Jill’s Etsy Shop.  You can also follow Jill Van Zanten Pottery on Facebook

Contact me via email at jillvz@sbcglobal.net.

Locally in Davis, CA  you can find my pottery at:

  • Cloud Forest Cafe, 222 D St
  • Three Ladies Cafe, 130 G St Suite A
  • Redwood Barn Nursery, 1607 5th St
  • Davis Food Coop, 620 G St
  • Pence Gallery, 212 D St (seasonally)

and the occasional craft fair. (Click on News for the most current updates.)

And if you just want to try out my pottery, go for coffee, breakfast or lunch at Cloud Forest Cafe (222 D Street), where most of their offerings are served on my wares.

About Me

I live in Davis, California with my family and make most of my work in my home studio.  I am an active member of the artist community at the UC Davis Craft Center, where I teach evening wheel throwing classes to college students and community members.  I also enjoy sharing my love of clay with children, and bring clay projects to several local elementary schools, supported through the Davis Schools Arts Foundation.

Artistic Influences

Early Southwest Pottery

I am inspired by early peoples everywhere who lived close to the margins of existence, yet created beautiful ceramics for practical, every day use.  The Anasazi pottery shown here was made between 750-1150 AD primarily in the Southwest “four corners” region of the United States where modern-day Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet.  The Anasazi artists first painted their wares with a white slip and then decorated the surfaces with intricate line designs using black pigment. You can find unusually well-preserved examples of this functional pottery at the Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, NM.


Japanese Architecture and Landscape Design

I was fortunate to be able to spend three years living and working in Japan after finishing college.  Although I was not yet specifically interested in ceramics at the time, I was drawn to the minimalism and simplicity of Japanese architecture and landscaping, as exemplified by the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto.  This aesthetic informs my work today.

ryoanji deck






Arts and Crafts Movement

Joseph Maria Olbrich, Lithograph

I also take inspiration from the Arts & Crafts Movement, which celebrated loving craftsmanship and design, and the beauty of natural materials, in reaction to the impersonal mass production of furnishings, structures, vessels and textiles following the industrial revolution.  This artistic movement, which was characterized by simplicity and harmony of design, occurred in Britain, Europe and the U.S. from the 1880s until WWI and in Japan (known there as the Mingei Movement) from the 1920s until WWII.




Nihon Mingeikan Arts & Crafts Museum in Tokyo

Nihon Mingeikan Arts & Crafts Museum in Tokyo


Minimalism in 20th Century Industrial Design

I am also fascinated by that extremely small  intersection where utility and graceful design meet in the mid 20th century designs from Scandinavia, the U.S. and Japan.

Furniture by Moises Hernandez, Charles & Ray Eames,  and Jens Risom             

Industrial designs by Raymond Loewy

Furnishings by Isamu Noguchi



One of my current inspirations is Maya Lin.  Pictured below are her Civil Rights Monument, Vietnam Memorial, and living space designs, all representing a vision of utmost simplicity in combining form and function.



What is important?
Simplicity is of central importance to me  as an aesthetic concept.  I hope you will see this aesthetic in my pottery designs, where I try to achieve beauty, grace and functionality without relying on extra lines, surfaces or transitions.  I also believe in simplicity as an approach toward life and faith.  I hope that this value shows through to those who know me and my work.


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