Bracker’s might have started with married potters Bill and Anne W Bracker, but that was just the beginning. For the last 25 years, Bracker’s has been owned and operated by three capable and creative women: Anne W. Bracker and her two daughters, Anne M. and Cindy.
As women in business, we like to celebrate other women in business. This month we’re focusing on two amazing woman-owned ceramic tool companies: Dolan Tools and Dirty Girls Pottery Tools.
Dolan Tools was started by Bob and Maureen Dolan in 1984. Dolan children Bob Jr. and Susan were involved as soon as they could count handles, progressing to de-burring ferrule edges and branding handles as their skills (and age) improved. After Sue graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA, she returned to take over the family business so Bob Jr. could follow his own filmmaking dreams (which have paid off with an Emmy for a commercial he shot thus far). Sue convinced Bob and Maureen to come out of retirement to teach her the whole toolmaking process as she learned the business inside and out. Bob passed away in 2011, but Maureen still lends a hand to Sue as her business partner.
Each Dolan tool gets touched an average of 25 times during the entire production process. Some of the specialty tools (the knives and the 100 series, for example) can be touched upwards of 50 times during the creation process. Sue is more heavily involved with the manufacturing side of the business, but Maureen is still the Queen of Knives (Sue even called the 220 knives “Maureen’s special babies” when I asked her for some fun tidbits about her business).
If you’re at NCECA and ask what Sue’s favorite tools are, Maureen will joke that she’s not allowed to reveal that information because they will always run out of those tools. But we have the inside scoop! Sue’s favorite tools are the 555, 512, M80, and 220S. Sue asked me to keep it quiet, so just keep that info between us, m’kay?
We’re Celebrating Women in Ceramics during the month of September, 2017 by offering a 15% discount on all Dolan Tools. Shop now >>
Link Henderson started Kentucky Mudworks (a ceramics supply business with classes in Lexington, Kentucky) with about $500 in her pocket in 2001 (watch an awesome video about Link and her businesses). About a decade ago, she noticed that there were not very many quality tool choices in the market and Dirty Girls Pottery Tools was born. She couldn’t find any tools that addressed ergonomics, nor could she find anything sized for a woman’s hand. While not specifically made for women, they are deliberately designed to fit smaller hands. Link wanted to engage the female clay population and have a little fun with marketing, too. Her sense of humor shines through with the names of several of her most popular tools.
Each Dirty Girls tool has been personally designed and thoroughly tested by Link. Sourced from select hardwoods and made by hand, these tools fill a niche for clever and creative potters. Each tool is handled anywhere from 5 to 20 times during the production process. Link supervises and checks the tools for quality control while also running a successful ceramic supply business that just opened a second location in Louisville, Kentucky. She also has a robust gourmet garlic farm operation, so she’s never NOT running a million miles a minute.
When Link takes a moment to indulge her own art, she loves to use the Round Bat System, the Foot Fetish tool and the 7″ Ergo Max cut-off wire. As I was putting together this information, Link mentioned that she’s currently out of round bat systems until late September. Luckily we still have THREE bat systems in stock (as of the time this is posted) as well as sixty inserts (available by the dozen).
We’re Celebrating Women in Ceramics during the month of September, 2017 by offering a 20% discount on all all Dirty Girls Pottery Tools. Shop Now >>