I started taking a pottery class when my kids were little. I needed something to do that only involved me. I fell in love!
I make functional pottery. I make pieces that I would like to use myself. I want to be able to store it conveniently, and to use it and clean it easily.
I fire most of my pieces in an electric kiln, but my favorite pieces are wood fired. The wood kiln will take about 20 hours to fire and requires constant attention from lots of people. The idea is to bring the temperature inside the kiln to about 2400 degrees. To do this, wood must be loaded into the kiln roughly every 10 minutes for the duration. It’s a lot of work. And totally worth the effort.
There is an element of surprise with every piece. When firing an electric kiln, I can assume the outcome of every piece. Not so with a wood kiln. There are so many variables involved that can affect the finished piece during a firing: the moisture in the wood, the temperature in the air, how the kiln is loaded, and where some of the pieces are in the kiln are just a few of the elements that can make a huge difference in the end product. The pots coming out of a wood kiln have a toasted look. Not too many blues, greens and bright colors. There are variations of brown and tan. And always beautiful.
My kids are adults now … and I’m still throwing pots. I’m still in love.
I make functional pottery because I like the challenge of taking a ball of clay and turning into something both useful and beautiful. A mug or bowl is an everyday object that must be practical to have someone reach for it daily. It is the appeal of its simple beauty that transforms these functional pieces into art.
I begin the process choosing the clay and where it is going to be fired. The electric kiln has a different color palette from the earthy tone of the wood fire. The electric kiln is more predictable and constant. The wood fire allows more unknowns and surprises, and the pieces for the wood fire need a little more surface area. I especially like making pieces for the wood fire with bulbous forms that have variations in the surface as the glaze and the flame have more flow.
Even though I have been working on the same type of functional pottery for years, I enjoy the challenge of trying to alter the pieces with texture, form or glaze so they do not remain the same. When form, function and glaze all come together I feel I have made something that can be used and appreciated for a long time.
I am not an Artist. Artists are skinny and gregarious, and if they don’t live in Brooklyn, they want to. I just like to make stuff.
We all know that people played with clay long before they painted. So, clay is at the beginning and at the center of art. Ages ago, people around the first fires tossed in clay goddesses to ensure fertility. If those goddesses blew up in the fire, that was considered a good omen. Plenty of my own work blows up in the kiln, so I feel like I’m carrying on an important tradition.
I am not a deep thinker, but then, who really is? However, you can be sure that I am a thinker. I do not simply make functional bowls or cute little figurines. My bowls are not for slurping tomato soup. When you use one of my bowls you will think deep thoughts about forces and mass and the outer limits of space. You use my bowls not just to hold food, but to think about what food is.
(with apologies to John Marlowe and Garry Knox Bennett)