BY KATIE ARMSTRONG
“Get up offa that thing, and dance ‘til you feel better. Get up offa that thing, and dance…” James Brown’s catchy tunes float around the shop. Two women are painting individual ceramic pieces and talking quietly. Holly Rockwell is pulling pieces out of a cardboard box and placing them on a shelf.
As she does this, she grooves.
She lightly bounces her tall frame and strawberry blond head and sings to the music as she goes about her job at The Potters’ Quarter at Oakway Mall in Eugene, Oregon.
The Potters’ Quarter is a “you paint it” ceramic café, with hundreds of mugs, dishes, tiles, vases, and assorted animal figurines ready to be painted and put in the kiln. It’s already halfway done, which Rockwell likes. “You don’t have to do the creative part!” she says.
Her boss at the Potters’ Quarter, Eliza Master, describes her as a sweet, creative person. Rockwell’s creative and go-with-the-flow attitude makes Eugene a perfect place to call her home.
Rockwell studied sociology at the University of Oregon in 2002. She really enjoyed art, but but did not plan on making ceramics a part of her life. Rockwell loves the adventure that life in Eugene brings. In addition to being a ceramic café associate she also helps mend sails and does bike deliveries for Cornbread Café, a vegan restaurant.
The convenience of riding her bike is one of the reasons Rockwell fell in love with Eugene.
Her coworker Jenny Wunder says that Rockwell rides her bike to work every day. “She’s high energy and very environmentally conscious,” Wunder says.
Rockwell has worked in customer service and restaurants in the past. She knows the stress of those jobs and likes the atmosphere at The Potters’ Quarter. She loves that she knows the owner. “I like working for a Eugene woman,” says Rockwell.
She used to work at Eugene’s favorite dessert spot, Sweet Life Patisserie, for a while. One day while she was working she overheard a regular customer who mention that she really needed a roommate. Rockwell needed a new place to live and it worked out seamlessly. This seems to be an occurring theme in Rockwell’s life. As she puts it, “I need something and it shows up. It happens regularly for me.”
She now lives with three housemates, two dogs, and one roommate came home with a cat the other day.
Rockwell met her boyfriend Richey Thomasen at The Lorax, a student co-op near campus, while they were both going to college. Thomasen is originally from Roseburg, but just like Rockwell, he fell for the atmosphere of Eugene.
Thomasen plays in a band called Local, and he lives about eight blocks away from Rockwell. She likes to go over to his place to hang out and party and not clean. Her boyfriend says that she’s spirited, passionate, and attractive. With her friends, he says she is happy and loud.
Back in 2007 Thomasen needed some dental work done that would cost too much to be done at OHSU. So Rockwell sold posters so she and Thomasen could go to Thailand for three months. The entire trip and dental work cost about half of what it would have been in the United States.
Rockwell greets a customer with a smile. “You pickin up a piece?” she asks, eyebrows up, friendly and inviting, pushing a piece of hair behind her ear. “Ok, great. I’ll wrap them up for you!” After the customer leaves with her painted creation, Rockwell closes her eyes and continues to groove.