More Options

Surly-Ramic’s Amy Davis Roth


Amy Davis Roth

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 36.5, September/October 2012

Amy Davis Roth (a.k.a. Surly Amy) is a fourth-generation visual artist who re­sides in the heart of Hollywood, Cali­fornia. She runs a handmade art business called Surly-Ramics where she creates hand-formed and hand-painted ceramic jewelry. Her “Smart Jewelry” line is inspired by science and skepticism. She often uses her jewelry to raise money for charities and to raise awareness of skeptic, atheist, and feminist issues. Amy is a longtime contributor to the widely popular blog Skep­chick where she writes, among other things, a skeptical advice column called “Ask Surly Amy.” She is managing editor for Skepchick’s sister site that deals with the intersections among art, science, and skepticism called Mad Art Lab.

In Amy’s words:

Amy Davis Roth

I first began working in clay by helping my mother, Charlene. At the time, my mother had a small home business that made porcelain awards for horse shows. I was very influenced by her work even though I probably didn’t know it early on. Her highly detailed work has without a doubt influenced my artwork today.

As a young woman I opened an art gallery in North Hollywood, Cali­fornia. During the time I had the gallery I began making and selling small ceramic necklaces. Unfortu­nately, I had no idea how to run an art gallery and after a short stint and an unfortunate series of events, I ended up literally bankrupt. I had no car and no place to live. I had failed.

I got very depressed and I stopped making art.

A year or so passed by.

Then, I got a job as a waitress to try to start saving money to start my life over. I remembered how much I en­joyed making the ceramic jewelry in my mother’s studio, so I started making necklaces and wearing them at work. I had moved into a tiny one-room apartment, and I didn’t have any space to create. The necklaces were small and I could make them in my mother’s backyard ceramic studio. It was perfect. It was during the same time period that I started learning about science, and a few months later I found out about the skeptical community. During this educational period in my life I was able to find something that my artwork had been lacking: a purpose and a message.


People fell in love with the jewelry. I had people buy them right off my neck! I literally couldn’t make them fast enough. Surly-Ramics was born! Within a few months I had started a new business, one that championed skepticism and critical thinking, and I no longer needed to wait tables.

I now work as an artist full time. I design jewelry that advocates education and science and that celebrates the brave, emerging society of freethinkers that I find myself a part of. It’s nice to be able to carry around a small piece of art that represents skepticism and the rational ideals that are helping to make this world a better place. I try to give back as much as I can to the community that has given me wisdom and so much inspiration, so I use my art to fundraise for many secular organizations and various grant programs.

You can see more of my ceramic jewelry designs at

Email me at

Follow @SurlyAmy on twitter.