For five decades, Hannibal-based potter Steve Ayers has made a beautiful balance of form and function the focus of his work. These days the artist is working with his daughter, Lindsey, and the results are truly a thing to behold.

Steve throws a pot on a pottery wheel in his Hannibal studio.

By Jim Winnerman

Steve Ayers discovered his career in 1973 at age 17 while still in high school in Macon, when a college student fulfilling his student teaching requirement invited Steve’s class to his home to see his studio.

“I immediately fell in love with the process of creating something beautiful on a potter’s wheel,” Steve remembers. “It was the neatest thing I had ever seen. I apprenticed with him for two summers, and in college I was already making and selling pots.” 

When he was 20, he built his own kiln and opened his first studio in Atlanta, Missouri, and his hands have barely left the potter’s wheel since. 

This year, Steve is celebrating what he refers to as “50 years in the mud.” For the past 37 years, his gallery has been in downtown Hannibal, but through the online marketplace Etsy, Ayers’s pottery is purchased and shipped throughout the country. 

“From the beginning, I have concentrated on creating functional ceramics that are visually attractive but useful and durable,” Steve says. “Pots need to work, handles need to be comfortable, and spouts need to pour. It is a real compliment when someone tells me they have been using a plate or pitcher or mug I made for many years.” 

In addition to the pottery, Steve has always built the kilns in which his work is fired. His current kiln is so large he can walk inside of it. 

Steve and Lindsey hold two pieces of pottery that were a collaborative effort.

Four years ago, Steve’s daughter Lindsey joined the gallery, and now much of the pottery is a collaboration between the two. While Steve continues to create the pieces, she handles much of the decorating and glazing. 

“Lindsey has pushed me beyond what I had been comfortable creating, encouraging new designs and shapes,” Steve says. “Plus, she is more creative on the surface decoration, and her glazes are more innovative.” 

Throughout the summer, Steve and Lindsey travel to juried art shows around the nation to sell their creations, and they continually meet different potters. As a result, the gallery also carries the work of over 30 different artists, most of whom are functional potters, allowing the gallery to offer customers a wide range of styles. 

Even Steve’s home is filled with other people’s pottery. Likewise, he thinks half the people in Hannibal have something of his in their homes. 

Ayers Pottery in Hannibal features the work of Steve and Lindsey Ayers and 30 other potters and artists.

“We also have a selection of locally made items like candles, soap, handcrafted wooden kitchenware, jewelry, and other gifts,” Lindsey adds. “No matter what it is in the store, it is handmade by someone we know.” 

Visitors who are interested in the process as well as the final product are welcome to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the pottery studio and witness all stages involved in the creation of Ayers’s pottery. 

Pottery has also had a big influence on Steve’s life in another way. He met his wife, Linn, at his first craft fair. 

Ayers Pottery, 308 North 3rd Street, Hannibal, or find their work on Etsy or Facebook. • 573- 221-6960 • Missouri Life Mercantile has a small selection of Ayers Pottery at 208 Columbia Street, Rocheport, or

All photos courtesy of Ayers Pottery.