Lake Norman & Mooresville

A new start as an artist

After a long and increasingly frustrating career in retail advertising, Myrna Reiss decided to take a break.

Reiss, 61, learned how to make the best of her situation.

Several years ago, she put her house in Indiana on the market, packed up her belongings and moved to a townhouse she had purchased for rental income in Mooresville. She fell in love with the town while visiting friends who lived near Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.

She thought she'd take a year off, do some traveling, explore the Lake Norman region and then find another job.

That was in 2007. Right before the bottom dropped out of the job market.

Reiss was exploring downtown Mooresville when she stumbled upon a clock repair and pottery studio.

She admired a vase. Reiss entered the studio. The potter Al Tillis said, "You like it so much, it's yours. Take it."

So many words to describe that moment in her life: Stunned. Touched. Inspired.

It was the beginning of a new phase in her life. She took pottery lessons from Tillis and was soon hooked. Hanging out at the studio was like "being a kid again hanging with my friends."

They'd throw pots, laugh and even have a glass of wine. After taking lessons for several years, she decided to try to sell some of her work.

"If I was going to continue making the stuff, I had to sell it," said Reiss. "I just didn't have room for it all."

She made her first foray into the world of art and craft fairs.

After a successful day at the Piedmont Farmers Market Master Gardener's Herb and Plant Festival, she decided this was the life for her.

Reiss went to several shows in the region and wondered why there wasn't an outdoor show in Mooresville for aspiring artists. She decided to put on an art show. Signing up artists, vendors and sponsors, designing signs and doing public relations for the show turned into a full-time job. The show was held in October.

"I now have my own studio in my garage and throw and glaze all my own pottery," said Reiss. "Throwing pottery is the closest I've ever come to meditation.

"The feel of the clay, watching it take shape, having my hands create a form from mud is so rewarding," said Reiss.

"There's no stress, no boss yelling at me, no impossible deadlines to meet.

"There's also not much money to be made, but it's worth it," said Reiss. "I left the life of an executive from a fast-paced environment with an increasingly extremely high level of stress to sit in my garage and throw pots.... and I couldn't be happier."