I am in awe of clay’s ability to be malleable and supple, yet in the presence of local metamorphism (the heat of fire or an electric kiln), clay takes on some of the qualities of rock and may endure for millennia. It is with great caution that a clay piece is consigned to the high heat of the kiln, as it must represent one’s best work that day. And yet, each piece is a glimpseinto the creative mind and technical expertise of the potter, that is, each piece is a snapshot in the life album of the clay artist. And tomorrow is a new day in the studio!
As a child and through my teenage years, our family took regular camping expeditions each year to national parks and monuments that preserved Ancestral Pueblo cultural centers around the American Southwest. I became interested in pottery and ceramics while wandering their museum exhibits.
In 1970, I was stationed at Ft. Sill Army Base, Oklahoma,for advanced training and there I discovered the base craft shop ceramic studio, and a young officer working at the potter’s wheel. Thus, began my informal apprentice and quest for ceramic mysteries! The young officer left for Vietnam and then it was my time at the wheel. What a difference between watching, memorizing and actually doing it! How exhilarating it was to practice the remembered movements he had shown me. I worked every day and on weekends for the next four months while in school and produced all that I could.
After my tour of duty at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska in the early 1970’s, I took up residence in a small cabin outside Fairbanks and started ceramics classes at the University of Alaska, including an independent study focusing on the Raku glazing process which resulted in my “One Man Raku Show”
I made my first ceramics sales of some of those raku pieces at a Renaissance Fair in Fairbanks during the summer of 1972. Certainly ceramic arts would become my avocation, if not my vocation!
Upon returning to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974, I found a job as production potter with Evangel Pottery, a difficult living at $0.35 piecework with my first young family! Over the next ten years my self-tutoring continued in private and community studio space. In 1985, after purchasing a potter’s wheel and a small electric kiln, I established a studio at home. In 1990, my technical design training took me to the Dallas, Texas area. Wanting to learn more about the chemistry of glazes, I entered an independent study class at a community college at Irving where I studied cracked-earth and ash glazes.By the mid 1990s, I was back in New Mexico and working in Los Alamos. My passion for ceramics and glaze formulation grew and I began to test and experiment with cone 6 glazes in earnest in the home studio and soon entered local arts and crafts fairs.
A used NorthStar extruder opened up many new possibilities as I developed skills designing and fabricating studio dies (nozzles). The Extrudaganza workshop in Ft. Worth in February 2007 featuring ceramic artists David Hendley, Daryl Baird, Bill Shinn, Mark Epstein, Karmien Bowman, and Diana Pancioli, really vitrified my appreciation for the clay extruder!
I count Richard Aerni, Tom and Jean Latka, Bill Shinn, Randy Broadnax, Ric and Judy Pierce, John Hasselberth, and Don Reitz among many,many ceramic artists who have been influential during my journey in clay.
I also acknowledge and thank my family, extended family and friends, without whose continued patience, support and enthusiasm, my journey in clay would have been so much less than it is today!
Each time I open the kiln, I am surprised, thrilled, and occasionally mystified, but always my clay work is a centering, learning, and inquisitive experience.
Member: New Mexico Potters Association
American Ceramic Society