I began making pottery my senior year of college at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. I moved soon after to Albuquerque, New Mexico where I worked for 2 years at a clay supply and pottery studio. There I learned to make clay and glazes, to fire and repair kilns, and began taking wheel throwing classes. That was in 1995 and I have been making handmade and wheel thrown pottery ever since.
In Albuquerque I began carving on the surface of my pots, a procedure know as sgraffito, to create design and texture on the pot’s surface. I was influenced initially by the carved pottery of the Navajo. Since then my surface design has evolved to include floral and geometric patters painted on the surface and enhanced by the contrast of the carved surface. I have taken numerous ceramic classes and workshops over the years. Those experiences combined with lots of practice have largely been my pottery education. I worked for a number of years at the Folk Art Center, and that is where I fell in love with salt and soda fired pottery.
For a couple of years I worked at Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts both as a studio assistant and later as the Assistant Director. During my time at Odyssey I took a class from Mark Peters, a local potter who also designs and builds kilns. Two years later in 2006 with Mark’s help we built a salt and soda kiln at my home in East Asheville.
Pots are thrown on the wheel or slabs are rolled out and either slumped over wooden forms or put together to create various forms; the pots are then allowed to dry to a stage known as leather hard; the pots are trimmed and handles added; the pots are then dipped in different colored slips, I then paint on the black pigment and carve the pot to reveal the clay body. After all of that the pots are allowed to dry completely and when I have enough to fill my salt kiln I begin to bisque fire. During the bisque fire the pots go through quartz inversion, but are fired at a low enough temperature that they are hard but still porous. After the bisque fire the glazes are then applied to the interiors and on certain places on the exteriors to add color. The pots are put on small balls of wadding which keeps the pots from sticking to the shelves during and after the salt firing. These wads leave light circular marks on the bottoms of the pots. During a salt and soda firing a sodium solution is sprayed into the kiln at a high temperature. Usually around 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. The sodium solution is instantly vaporized and it interacts with the silica found in the clay body and the slips applied to the surface. This creates a glazed surface on everything in the kiln. This method of firing allows me to leave the pots unglazed on the carved surface and produces rich and beautiful earth tones. At this temperature the pots become what is called vitrified, which means that they are no longer porous, and therefore they will hold liquids. All of the pots that I make are functional and can be put in the dishwasher, microwave, and even in the oven if the pots are allowed to heat slowly with the oven.
The pottery I am currently making is a culmination of a number of creative outlets I used prior to becoming a potter. They include ink drawings, painting, and printmaking, as well as cooking. Some of the most intimate moments we spend with each other are done while sharing food and drink. I strive to make beautiful functional pieces that I hope enrich the lives of the user and bring a bit of celebration to each occasion of their use. My work can be purchased at Woolworth Walk, and The Gallery of the Mountains in the Grove Park Inn, both in Asheville, North Carolina, and at Southern Fried Gallery in Townsend, Tennessee outside the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.