Ellen Drake, a North Carolina potter, was introduced to pottery in 1996 after the sudden loss of her thirteen-year-old son, William.  In the clay, she found bits of God’s Grace not only in the working and kneading of the clay, but also in the goodness of her fellow potters.

 

At first Ellen threw pots on the wheel, but over time she began hand-building lots and lots of simple little angels.  Initially she signed her pots with a large EL, but eventually her signature became four small dots in a row. She uses a bent nail from her house to make the dot impressions.  These four dots represent her family. Ellen’s artist daughter Jean Gray Mohs has been drawn to the four dots theme as well – even having it subtly tattooed on her forearm.

 

When sculpting the angels, Ellen finds both a joy and an inner stillness. The process has helped her navigate her grief and find comfort in the storm of loss.  It is her hope that these joyful, healing and grounding qualities will embed themselves in the angels – that the clay will bring others the comfort and joy that she has experienced.

 

“The clay grounds me,” she says, “and I love sending all these little guys (angels) off to do their work – to tend to others as well.”

 

Ellen’s angels have taken flight to many places – all over the United States – also in New Zealand, Africa, China, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Botswana, France and Italy.  They have been used in the pastoral ministry at her church as well as been sold in church bookstores and at a local art gallery.