Shawnee Mission Faces: Abby Morrison, teen clay sculpture business owner and art enthusiast

A painter and clay sculptor by trade, Abby Morrison is a busy teenager running her own business, Umbrella Clay. The 14-year-old artist calls herself “a huge art fan” with not only making her creations but enjoying the work of others as well. She also participated in Shawnee’s kid business fair a few weeks ago at the Shawnee Civic Centre. When not creating new art, Morrison spends time with friends and reading novels. She’s been in homeschool with a group called Educate. She lives in Lenexa with her parents, Chris and Julie Morrison, and an older sister.

I’m trying to share happiness through my creation of art, and that’s why it’s Umbrella Clay, ‘cause I want everyone to be under the umbrella. I sculpt, sometimes people, sometimes animals, or decorations of sorts. Or I paint and incorporate clay into that.

I have to get myself into a certain mood, but I can do any kind of emotion that I’m feeling and encapsulate it. I don’t usually share those ones though, because people don’t always like to see the kind of darker, sadder ones. The happy ones are the ones that I want to share because I want to share that happiness with other people.

A lot of my clay things that I make, or my paintings, I can listen to music and kind of see something from it. So maybe it’s a color that I see with the sound or maybe it’s a shape or a movement or a person or an outfit that I could put onto a person to make out of clay or to paint a design.

Sharing emotions is kind of some of my favorite stuff. A lot of times it involves music. I always like to say one of my biggest parts of my creative process is laughter. It’s just whatever I’m feeling, I can just see it into colors and see it into sounds or shapes and movements, and create those from what I imagine or what I see. I’m not a music artist, I just, I hear things and it’s inspiration, is what it is.

The reason that I started making things out of clay was because I loved making gifts for people. And I would find out what people liked, and then I would make something specifically tailored to that person to make them happy and to share that happiness with them.

Now, I wanted to have it as a business because I was specifically interested in the commissioning aspect of it. Somebody could suggest something, and I could tailor it for them, just like I would do with gifts. And I wanted it to be affordable too, because I think that a lot of people, especially nowadays, people are so stressed about everything all the time. So I just kind of want to share that, I want to share my little bottles of happiness, is what I call them. They bring me joy, and so I hope that I can bring other people joy.

Sometimes I do feel kind of silly because I’m younger. At first, I remember sharing the idea with my mom and my dad, and my mom was like yeah let’s do it, and my dad was like that’s never gonna work (laughs). And I was like you know, we’re gonna try anyway. But like, ‘cause he was worried that I was going to put so much into this and it not work out, and then I would be very sad about it. And I think that one of the biggest things that he forgot to remember was even if I do fail — and that’s one thing that I think everybody should remember — is even if you do fail, you had fun along the way and you learned along the way. That’s the biggest thing.

I have had people underestimate me, but then also sometimes, I’ll underestimate myself because of that. I remember one time specifically, my friend actually hit me after I said that. Like, she slapped me and she said focus. And I will always remember that because she was so determined for me to understand that everybody was there supporting me no matter what I did. So even if it didn’t work out, she was still there constantly reminding me that hey it’s still going somewhere. It might not be going where you want it to, but it’s still going.

It might feel like people don’t really see what you’re trying to get them to see, but there’s always those people that will always be there through the whole of it. I think that’s always something good to remember.