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Meet The Maker: Sunny Leinhart

To say that Sunny lives up to her name is probably giving the sun too much credit. She’s even more cheerful than sunshine. And definitely more talented. Sunny was our first Rural Artisan Potter, and we love every time she stops by the shop to restock her inventory and show us new finds.

A woman kneeling next to a dog with a red background behind them.

Sunny is an incredibly accomplished potter and teacher. She developed the signature Beekman 1802 Gunmetal glaze that adorns all her work in the Beekman 1802 Mercantile. (Watch this amazing video of Sunny creating the “Beekman 1802 Dear Liza Bowl.”) A resident of Cooperstown, Sunny has been deeply involved in its arts scene for many years. And equally as important, she is a constant presence at community events around the region. (You know how we value neighborliness.) Read her interview below to find our more…we guarantee she’ll brighten your day too.
Where do you live?
I live in the historic Fly Creek, NY. Eight miles north of Cooperstown, NY
Who’s in your family?
For the past 26 years, I have lived in our 1860’s farmhouse with my husband, three boys and a variety of pets. The boys are all grown, in their 30’s, living all over. Sadly all of our pets have died.
Sunny in her workshop.
How long have you been practicing your craft?  
I enrolled in a pottery class while a senior at Cornell University in 1972. I continued to be involved with clay off and on, mostly on, for the next 40 years.
Can you describe the moment you first discovered your passion for your craft?  

I knew from the first time I touched clay that I wanted to make pots.  I would dream about the wheel spinning at night. It was the only college course (aside from art history) that I got an A+ in!

If you could hold the hands of any person, living or dead, who would it be?

My great husband. We were in college together holding hands when I started on this journey. He’s been with me since the beginning, I can’t imagine life without his support and holding hands.

What’s your favorite item that you make for Beekman 1802, and why?   

I love making the pears. Each one is individual and fun to make. The design of the pears took a while to evolve and I am proud of them. I pay lots of attention to details. I feel my work is very clean and elegant. I hope others feel the same.

What’s your favorite item on Beekman 1802 that’s not one of your own, and why?

I really appreciate the Cookbooks. They are beautiful and so well made. The photography is lovely.

What’s your advice for people who want to follow their passion like you do?

Put the time into practicing. It pays off. I taught for many years and I am sure that my students will remember me telling them to “Be the pot” “Feel its existence” Nothing comes into existence without imagining a little piece of your spirit will always be in that pot. How cool is that?

If people want to find out more about your work, or contact you, where can they look? 
sunlein@hughes.net or call 607-547-4087
Check out the item Sunny produces exclusively for Beekman 1802
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