Nicole Black is a WE Bliss Pass member and owner of Whiskey Jack, a ceramics art studio and retail shop, which just opened its doors in a new location on First Avenue!
Hello, Neighbor! We’re so excited you chose to open your studio on the same block as WE! Can you tell us a little bit about your new location?
My husband and I purchased the property on First Ave. so we could run our businesses side-by-side (he is in appraisals). We did some remodeling to freshen and brighten up the building- and now Whiskey Jack has a designated retail space in addition to a studio and creative space. It’s a working artist studio where I create everything that is sold in the shop. Now that I have more room for fun retail items, I’m curating some other really cool stuff to complement my art.
How did you come up with the name “Whiskey Jack?”
I’m a long-time local to the Sandpoint area. I grew up here as a child and graduated from Sandpoint High School. The name Whiskey Jack came when our original family studio was built on Whiskey Jack Road in Ponderay. The “Whiskey Jack” is actually a gray Jay bird that lives in the area. We thought it was a good fit to name the studio after the location and our fondness of birds. My imagination is always soaring up in the clouds.
Your art focuses on ceramics- what are the origins of your interest in this medium?
I took my first ceramics class my sophomore year in high school and was instantly hooked. Dan Shook has always been my mentor and he took me under his wing then and for many years after. I remember sitting in an anatomy and physiology class in college as I was pursuing a sports medicine degree and looked down at my notebook and among all the definitions that I had written out about the body there was beautiful artwork around the edges of the page. That was the aha moment for me- I am an artist. I came back to Sandpoint that summer and pursued an apprenticeship with Dan Shook, which continued for 16 years until I learned to be a master ceramic artist.
Your work is so unique- what inspires you?
I’m very inspired by living in happiness. Fun is my mission, creating an environment where time disappears and I’m living in the moment. I am fascinated with wellness and seeing what I can push myself to do and create. I’m also passionate about living outside of my comfort zone and inspiring others to do the same.
That’s super inspiring. How would you say your yoga practice has influenced your art?
I have found that yoga fills my cup with positive energy so when I enter my studio I have the patience and clear mind to come up with new beautiful things and I have the energy to connect with the community through conversation and listening. I want everyone who enters Whiskey Jack to be surrounded with beauty and to feel really good. I want everyone to be able to take a piece of my story and a lasting memory of our beautiful Sandpoint town with them.
How has your art influenced your yoga practice?
In the same way that my art dissolves time, sometimes it feels like 45 minutes have gone by and it’s really been three hours- I love it when I can get into that place. Yoga does the same thing for me. I rarely feel the time in a 65-minute class, I’m just in that moment and the essence of the breath and movement lasts with me through the day. As I’m creating all the lines and dots and intricate patterns on my ceramics, I use the stillness and breath I’ve practiced in yoga to have a steady hand and focus.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing yoga for about six years. I’ve had a deep love for Pilates since my son was born and when I found yoga it was a wonderful fit. I really enjoy the Vinyasa practice and being able to flow in movement and breath clears my mind so I can walk through my day in happiness.
Our instructors share a favorite quote on their WE profile page- will you leave us with one of your favorite quotes?
“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Rumi
Thanks, Nicole! The WE community is so grateful to share in your creative and happy energy.
Take home one of Nicole's creations by visiting the new studio on the 107 N. First Ave. in downtown Sandpoint. Follow Nicole on Instagram, too!Instagram