Text by Bethany Adams
As a tribute to her grandmother, Brooke Hoerner Knippa originally named her company Alice Paul. “My grandmother lived to be over 100, and she was just so full of life and always really crafty and making things,” she says. The name caused some confusion, however, and Brooke found inspiration for a new one in her products. “When I set up a display for any craft shows or fairs that I do,” she says, “it’s kind of a cabinet of curiosities.”
Growing up in Colorado, Brooke Hoerner Knippa always had time to explore. She worked nights at her dad’s restaurant, explored during the day, and went home with her pockets full of found objects that would eventually make their way into her art. “I was just always really inspired, and I was always taking pictures of the colors and patterns that the moss and lichen created on the rock,” she says.
So, when she moved to Maine seven years ago, she wasted no time in buying a surfboard and diving into the fresh inspiration of the coastline. A pottery class at a local art studio sparked a new passion, and a job at a restaurant opened an unexpected door. “I met a local artist who was designing some pottery for the restaurant,” she says, “and I reached out to see if she needed any help making them.”
The inquiry led to a job, a mentor, and a chance to develop her art. In 2013, the result was a new business that would become AP Curiosities. Now, Brooke’s pottery and jewelry designs capture the essence of both land and sea through a variety of shapes and textures. “I get really excited about trying to mimic and take some of that beauty from Mother Nature, but take it in a much more whimsical form into my pottery,” she notes.
Within the last few years, that “whimsical form” has begun to take shape in pieces like her barnacle vases and jellyfish air planters. “The nature of both of those is really nice because it allows kind of a more organic form,” Brooke notes, pointing out that hand-building her vases results in a different texture than wheel-throwing.
Similarly, her air planters, created from inverted pinch pots with floral wire inside, feature a wide range of unique finishes. “It’s nice because if they’re in front of a window or anything, they get a little movement,” Brooke says. “So, they actually blow with the wind, and it kind of brings them to life a little bit.”
Whether surrounded by mountains or ocean views, Brooke finds ways to bring the splendor of the outdoors into the home. “I’m always full of things that I get really excited about,” she says, noting that she has a few fresh projects in the works. But no matter what she creates, for Brooke, it always comes back to one simple truth: “You just can’t beat the beauty of Mother Nature.”