Local Hero – Jessica Steinhäuser
Although the Ostic Group’s March Local Hero did not grow up in the area, she has made Guelph into her home—and enriched the community as a result. A potter by trade, Jessica Steinhäuser is a ceramic artist who came to Canada from Germany when she was 22.
Upon completing her 3 year potter’s apprenticeship, which she began when she was 18, Jessica decided that she wanted adventure. As she was originally born in Canada and held dual citizenship, she decided to come back and start working as a production potter in Ontario.
Jessica moved to Guelph, where she founded Stonehouse Pottery in 1989. For over 30 years, Jessica supplied the Guelph area with pottery, making her creations a go-to gift for weddings gifts, souvenirs, and more. During this time, Jessica also took on an active leadership role in the community, opening her studio to up-and-coming potters as a way to provide rental space and mentorship opportunities.
Jessica has held a faculty post in the ceramic department at the Haliburton School of the Arts for over a decade. In 2005, she founded the local Potters Market as an annual event in Guelph, bringing the idea from Germany—where every town has its own potters market. The event is now entering its 12th year running and remains popular with potters all across Ontario, who come together to sell their creations and exchange ideas.
Recently, Jessica has changed the focus of her business. She does not produce pottery anymore—instead she makes “Kachelöfen”, traditional German clay stoves that burn wood with extreme efficiency, allowing them to provide long-lasting radiant heat for homes. Over the past 11 years, she has built 18 kachelöfen—8 in the last year alone. Jessica travels all over the world to install these stoves in the United States and Europe (as well as Canada).
This new foray into building kachelöfen has made ‘Jessica Steinhäuser’ into a name that carries international recognition. Jessica has been featured in major publications like The Telegraph, BBC Scotland, The Globe & Mail and many others. Her kachelöfen are featured in private collections around the world—and her name brings a huge level of prestige to the Guelph community.
The Guelph Community & The Ostic Group
Jessica told us that she felt “very lucky” to have ended up in Guelph. When she came to Canada, she had nothing and moved to Guelph by chance. Now she has kids, a family and a successful business, so she does her best to give back to the community and return what it gave to her in the first place.
Jessica made the connection with the Ostic Group shortly after arriving in the area and she’s been with them since 1988. When she was first starting out, the potter who rented space to her worked with the Ostic Group. This was how she made the initial contact with their team. Today, the protection offered by the Ostic Group allows her to feel secure and work internationally without any worries or concerns.
As an internationally-recognized artist and a master of her craft, Jessica brings so much to the Guelph community—which is why she is the Ostic Group’s Local Hero for the month of March!