Who knew clay pottery could become such a huge nationwide phenomenon? Rae Dunn certainly did not! But that is precisely what the quiet, unassuming 58-year old Dunn has achieved.
Are you one of the few that have not heard about this talented artist yet? Or maybe you are a devoted fan eager to learn more about her? Either way, keep reading below to see how a passion project for one woman developed into a cult-like obsession for millions of others.
Who is Rae Dunn
Rae Dunn was born in California and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawn toward creative pursuits much of her life, Dunn holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Design. Before discovering her passion for clay potter in 1994, she had worked in graphics and fashion design. Dunn has traveled all over the world and is a skilled painter and classical pianist.
Dunn makes all of her minimalist clay pottery by hand. She tries to incorporate elements of her simple, playful lifestyle into each of her works. Drawing inspiration for the earth and nature, Dunn fuses simplistic shapes and natural forms into her work.
The Japanese stylings of wabi-sabi can be recognized in Dunn’s work. Wabi-sabi looks at and embraces the beauty found inside of imperfect and incompleteness. Dunn has said of her work, “I don’t strive for perfection in line and form in my work, because for me, the balance I’m trying to achieve can’t be represented that way. The incompleteness and imperfection of my work are part of the story. Just as the absence of something in our lives can stir powerful feelings and show us the way to wholeness.”
No matter how imperfect Rae Dunn’s style may be, it has inspired a perfect storm of obsession for many buyers.
The Clay Pottery Obsession
When Rae Dunn first discovered her passion and talent for clay pottery, she chose to remain low-key. She has stated the work was out of passion, not a drive or love of money. However, things wouldn’t stay low-key for Dunn very long! It wouldn’t be long till you could find Dunn’s pottery and other clay items in retailers Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods across the country.
Often only adorned with a single word or two, people quickly began falling in love with Dunn’s simplistic white creme-colored pottery. Though undoubtedly beautiful works of art, the craze for Dunn’s potter has grown to such a frenzy, it could almost be argued that it’s more about the collecting and hunt than it is the actuarial item.
In scenes reminiscent of Beanie Baby and Tickle Me Elmo hysteria of years pass, Dunn’s fans flock to stores in groves whenever a new item hits the store shelves. Several Facebook groups have popped up, some with thousands of members. Those eager and hunting for Dunn’s latest creations go by monikers such as; Rae Dunn Hunters, Rae Dunnies, Dunners, Rae Dunners, etc.
Unfortunately, when large groups of passionate fans of any medium come together clamoring over the same limited quantities of items, things will tend to get heated. Rae Dunn’s pottery has not been an exception. Video has appeared on several social media sites of Dunn’s fans screaming at each other, grabbing things from each other’s hands, and becoming physical with one another.
A former self-admitted Rae Dunn Hunter, Lauren Sotelo, has said it’s the obsession of possession, not the pottery, that is the driving force behind this behavior; “It’s an adrenaline rush when you’re able to get things that other people want and they don’t get to have because there are only so many pieces. That’s kind of why it gets super crazy for me; because I started to get addicted to having things before somebody else was able to get it.”
While one group is fighting to lay claim on the rarest clay items, another group is looking to profit from the craze. Many look for deals on the designer pottery and then turn around and sell them for often hundreds of dollars more than the retail.
To her credit and in keeping with pure artistic intention, Dunn has said of the fighting and reselling; “It makes me really sad that people resell. I wish I could sell more of my handmade stuff. But when I do it, I knew that people are buying it and reselling it for hundreds of dollars more. And it really upsets me because… I don’t know. I feel like I’m just being used.”
Will the work of Rae Dunn survive the test of time? Or will it lose momentum and fade like the Neopet and Cabbage Patch Doll crazes? Only time will tell! One thing that is for sure, Dunn’s simple and elegant clay pottery does make for a beautiful addition to any home. Just please, for the sake of the artist that makes the work you love so much, and the rest of humanity, don’t fight, and please be good to each other!