As a child I grew up making mud pies on our family wheat farm in eastern Washington. I loved the transformation from a wet blob of mud to a crusty pie baked in the warm summer sun. I still love the feel of the crust of the earth between my fingers and toes. Back then it was my hands to shape the pies and the sun to “fire” them. Now with the use of a wheel and kiln things are a little faster but it is still very satisfying to roll a piece of clay between my hands and on warm, sunny days I still set my pots outside to dry in the sun.
Nearly 20 years ago, while living in an enormous city surrounded by concrete buildings, by some magical twist of fate, I discovered clay. I found myself reconnecting with the earth and elements in a way I would not have thought possible. The first thing I was taught was how to make was a bowl. I still have some of those old, very heavy “door-stoppers” to remind me of where the journey started.
I continued with utilitarian ware fully enjoying the metamorphosis from a ball of raw clay to a shiny bowl that held my soup. After studying with a group of potters in California I moved across the country and began an apprenticeship with a master potter in Maryland. The apprenticeship not only refined and honed my skills but exposed me the wide range of responsibilities of operating a production potterie. Tasks such as firing different types of kilns, developing glaze recipes, marketing, distribution and gallery management were all new to me but it wasn’t long before I was maintaining my own studio space and selling my wares to local shops and galleries.
The last 20 years have seen many different clay bodies, surface applications and firing methods all of which have imparted many valuable lessons. I love big, bold color and find that adding a big burst of tangerine to the inside of a bowl makes me smile.
I would say one of the most important lessons is, don’t forget to thank the kiln goddess when you open the lid of the kiln and find shelves of beautiful, smooth and shiny vessels because she has the power to make it otherwise!
Favorite quote: “women who have diamonds… it can’t possibly touch the joy and excitement of opening a kiln.” - excerpt from an interview with the legendary potter, Beatrice Wood.