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Summer Heat

There’s always a lag in the process, a length of time that expands, sometimes to a month or more, between the moment of making & the moment of completion. In studio ceramics. At least in the way I work. This piece was thrown in still-cold February, the time of year when you wear a wool cap when you work & heat up the water to set beside the wheel.

I remember it – I actually threw this piece during a class at Santa Fe Clay, demonstrating for students. “Now, maybe there’s something we can do with this rim,” I remember saying, reaching for the first tool I could find & dragging it around on the surface – the needle tool – when teaching, you kind of work quickly, exaggerating, emphasizing. You don’t think of keeping what you make. But this platter – as I packed up at the end of class – looked too good to recycle.

It sat an extra month on the shelves back in my studio. Last week I finally fired it – a highlight, a favorite piece from June. The undulating pattern, lines merging & crossing at the extremity of the circle, recalls, for me anyway, the mesmerizing grooves of an LP record. The form – because I was exaggerating, probably – has a robust, confident, balance. It is not over-worked. Seems to me that in the studio – and on my favorite records, too – the best & most beautiful is often that which slips through, almost despite the maker – you barely see it out of the corner of your eye. It has a life of its own.

How about this piece? June has gotten hot – the studio door is open – I glance around for uncovered clay & throw a sheet of plastic over, to slow its drying. Everything is easy – and if it’s the heat of the kiln that transforms the potter’s art & makes it indelible, records it, so to speak – then that same heat feels like it’s hanging in the air as I work, now, lurking in the corners. In a good way. The first day of summer is next week. It’s hot outside. A piece like this slides out of the kiln & into the gallery – I just see it, out of the corner of my eye.

Saturday the 25th I’ll have my eighth annual Studio Sale. This lidded jar will be there – all the pieces on this page – plus piles of older work I want to let go & clear away. Do stop by if you’re around, & say hi!

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Works in progress

Last month was a busy one for teaching in the studio – a number of students, and about 93 pots total, once the kiln was unloaded & the work completed. Some students were beginners – just curious about being in the studio & wanting to work with clay – others were experienced potters, focusing in on new projects & new skills. 

I love how you can’t always tell who is who by the finished ‘product.’ Beginners have an advantage over the experienced potter – I always observe with just a little jealousy – the innocence, delight, the lack of conceit. It’s a cliche, but, I’m sure, many days, I learn far more from my students than they’re learning from me. Experience – dearly-sought & hard-won – but. It inhibits more than inspires, and the more serious your work gets, the more you wrestle with this fact.

Look for a minute at the generous, easy, proportions of this plate form. The restful rising curve – the rim, left to be what it is – not over-worked, big but not overstated. A blunted hacksaw blade, bent into a loop & scurrying around the inner surface, combs up an invigorating texture – just right for the right glaze. 

Is this plate the creation of the experienced, restrained, potter who knows materials, tools, forms, inside & out? Or is it a naive exploration, a foray, albeit by someone with a steady hand & a good, focused, concentration. 

There’s a new portfolio of recent student work here. 

In other news. Green River Pottery is joining the list of local businesses in Santa Fe who support the Santa Fe Animal Shelter by allowing its frequent donors a discount. Click on the image above to learn more. Consider the numerous perks of participating!

How about this one. Experimental student work – or studio potter yearning to be more student-like? 

Click to see this piece at the on-line shop – it’s a favorite of my latest firing.