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Alumni Spotlight: Blake Robinson, '10

Alumnus turns to pottery in spare time while maintaining private practice

Blake Robinson Pottery

By Angela Lutz | From Washburn School of Law Alumni Newsletter - August 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has given many people time to pursue new hobbies, but Blake Robinson, ’10, decided to dive headfirst into an old one. He first studied ceramics for four years in high school, but he didn’t touch clay again until about three years ago. That’s when his wife, Rebecca, began a doctorate program in leadership communication at Kansas State University, and Robinson suddenly found himself with a lot of free time.

“Rebecca is busy in the evenings and she also works full time. I can’t bother her, so instead of just twiddling my thumbs and watching TV, I decided to start going to the local art center, where they have an open pottery studio three days a week,” Robinson said. “I wanted to get out of Rebecca’s hair and pick up where I left off in high school.”

Over the next couple of years, Robinson honed his skills and refined his aesthetic, which he defines as more masculine, as he utilizes sharp angles, dynamic lines, and earth tones or muted gem tones in his pieces. He discovered he enjoys making useful items that are also attractive, such as mugs, bowls, plates, and particularly olive oil bottles. 

“I don’t want the look and the feel to interfere with the functionality, but I also want it to be something you enjoy using,” he said. “It has to feel right in your hand. It took me a while to get back into it, but I started doing it so much that I got good enough to achieve a look and feel that I’m proud of.”

When COVID-19 arrived, Robinson had recently ordered his own pottery wheel and kiln, and they showed up about two weeks after stay-at-home orders took effect. This gave him even more time to pursue his hobby – during the height of the pandemic, he was at the wheel approximately five hours per day. Eventually his basement filled up with more pieces of pottery than he could ever give away, so he decided to sell it. That’s when PhD Pottery was born.

Blake Robinson Pottery

“Rebecca built a website and we called it PhD Pottery because that’s what I was doing while she was working on her PhD,” Robinson said. “During the pandemic it was a great outlet during those couple of months when we almost couldn’t even go outside.”

In addition to his pottery, Robinson keeps busy with his own private legal practice, the Robinson Firm in Manhattan, Kansas, where he and his partner focus primarily on criminal defense and personal injury law. At Washburn University School of Law, Robinson said he gained academic knowledge and real-world experience from guest speakers who were practicing attorneys in cities all over Kansas. Just like his pottery business, his decision to open his own legal practice shows his entrepreneurial spirit.

“I worked out of my car for about eight months before I could find a place to rent and hang a shingle out, and it’s all been history from there,” he said. “With my own practice, there are a lot of hats I have to wear, but I love the freedom. My legal education is the best investment I ever made.”

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