I will always love “the bowl” and my recent dialog with clay has led me to focus on it again, not as a strictly functional object, but as the concept of universal container and symbol of nurture.
It’s the process more than the resulting object that I love best. Marks of this process are always evident in my pieces so that in a way each piece tells the story of its creation.
I have maintained a working studio in Austin
for 21 years. My work is available in galleries, at art shows and
from my studio.
Since that visit to a university pottery studio over 35 years ago, clay has been a central part of my everyday life and in 1983, I held my breath, let go of all other means of support and became a full time potter relying on my work with clay to support me in all aspects of my life.
My work has included sculptural vessels and two dimensional pieces, as well as a complete line of tableware, or "functional sculpture." All of my work is created with handbuilding techniques. The tableware evolved and grew to provide the bulk of my income.
In early 1996, after almost 30 years as a potter, the joy of working with clay was diminishing. I was not ready to accept any reduction in that joy. The line of tableware I had created was increasingly in demand until the making of plates, bowls and cups alone was consuming all of my studio time.
I didn't want to move into a more intense production mode and yet I had gradually lost the time necessary to explore new ideas. I realized that in order to keep my love for clay alive, I needed to take a break from the functional work and have time to stretch and find new directions.
When I contacted the galleries that carried my work they all enthusiastically supported my difficult decision to take a sabbatical from orders in order to take some time for exploration.
When existing orders were finally filled, I
thought that the hardest part of the transition had passed. I was very
wrong. The next months were extremely painful...I began my quest by creating
"tall" bowls with legs. From there I made box forms, which also had
legs. I have always loved making boxes, but somehow I wasn't satisfied with this series of work.
I now realize that these were the forms that led me to the horses. Long strong legs supported vessels, first bowls, then boxes. One day I formed a tubular shape and put legs on it. I was puzzled by this form that had created itself. Where was I headed? What was this form? The next day I came into the studio and suddenly the tubular form grew a neck and head. A horse was born. Only after my horses evolved, did I become aware of a series of powerful synchronicities focused around them.
My life is once more deeply involved with horses.
I feel a very special affinity to this part of my
current work, since it's birthing process has allowed me to recapture my deep love for and
connection with clay. A synchronicity occurred when, as my husband and I were lunching in my new studio which was under construction, a strong whinny broke through the trees. Following the sound, we were led to the back of our new neighbor's lot and their new corral, complete with horse.
I work with a very vitreous porcelain/white stoneware blend which is fired to 2,300°F, carefully held at maximum temperature, then slowly fired down to develop the appearance of the glaze and create an extremely durable clay body. Although this work is unique enough to be displayed when not in use, it is completely and comfortably functional; safe for use in the dishwasher, oven and microwave.
I love the process of handbuilding and the
resultant form, which has a much more organic look and feel than a wheel-thrown
piece. This slightly asymmetric quality seems of the earth and appropriate
to me for my work. I get much of my inspiration from nature and at
one point in my early childhood my mother actually allowed me to make "mud
pies" on the living room floor. Growing up in rainy Oregon, I was
surrounded with a plentiful supply of material for creations indoors and
out. I was reconnected with clay in adulthood, while visiting a friend
at a university pottery studio. During that visit, I realized my
desire to work with clay. I then went on to study art at Peabody
College, graduating in 1970 with a major in ceramics. After another
year of graduate independent study, I began my studio career. I continue
loving and working with the earth. Handbuilding is a sensuous but
labor-intensive method of working, so I have the opportunity to build a
relationship with each piece as it is being constructed. The finished
surfaces of my ware show many of the building processes, such as the marks
of my hands, fiber pieces, and various other textures impressed in the
Because horses were the focus of the first third of my life, I guess it makes sense that after almost 30 years as a potter they would emerge in my work. In January 1996, I realized, that in order to keep my love for clay alive, I needed to take a break from the functional tableware I have been producing for many years and do some exploratory work. I began by creating "tall bowls" (bowls with legs) and then began making box forms, which also had legs. I wasn't satisfied with the boxes, but now realize, that they were the forms that led me to the horses. Only after my horses evolved did I become aware of a series of powerful synchronicities concerning them. As always, clay is the greatest teacher.
These horses, for me, are a bit like gesture drawings, frozen moments of movement or emotion from the memory of my time and life with horses. All the body parts are hollow and made of a high fire porcelain/white stoneware mix. Each part is made separately, cut and shaped to create head, neck, body and legs and then assembled to suggest various stances. The manes and tails are shaped of coils or slabs (rolled pieces) of clay and are added after the main body has been allowed to dry and stiffen. The completed form is then covered and slowly allowed to dry completely. At this time it is ready for a first (bisque) firing. After the bisque firing each horse is decorated with many coats of stains, slips and glazes in various combinations, depending on the surface quality desired. When the final application has dried, some of the forms are wrapped with a fine copper wire, which will melt and fuse with the surface in the final firing.
The horses and my responses to them are very
personal. My hope is that they will elicit a response in the viewer,
which triggers some memory or emotion that is personal to them.