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Volume 15 • Issue 82 July/August 2009

Considerations for Critiquing Claywork Mark Hewitt Interview More About Spouts Before Designing Your Own Gas Kiln: What You Need to Know Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin NCECA Clay Biennial & Regional Student Juried Exhibition New Tools for Clay Artists $7.95 U.S./$9.95 CAN


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July/August 2009 Volume 15 • Issue 82

On the cover: Bee Girl by Lori Doolittle of Richwood, WV. 7" x 6" x 12". Earthenware clay with nichrome wire, underglazes, and oxide stains, electricfired to cone 04. Submitted to “The Gallery” of Clay Times and selected for a surprise cover! Inset photo: Gallon Jar by Mark Hewitt. 13".

Susan Peterson, 1925-2009

Large wood-fired pots grace the yard of North Carolina potter Mark Hewitt.

features 25 The Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin Sandy Huff travels across the globe to experience the wonders of the ancient ceramic army of more than 8,000 life-size statues that comprise China’s greatest archeological find.

35 Conversations: Mark Hewitt Originally from the United Kingdom, this prolific clay artist has embraced the North Carolina pottery-making tradition with great passion. Author Joe Campbell interviews him to find out what influences have had the most impact on his work.

exhibits 14 NCECA 2009 Regional Student Juried Exhibition Irma 1 by Helen Gladysheva. 40" x 10" x 8". Featured in this year’s NCECA Regional Student Juried Exhibition. See story, p. 14.

32 NCECA 2009 Clay Biennial 5




Clay July/August 2009 • Volume 15 • Issue 82





Readers share frustrating craft show experiences ...

“A Real Utility Vehicle” by Pete Pinnell



Clay world news, events, and calls for entries

“Considerations for Critiquing Claywork” by Lana Wilson



“Making ‘Trough’ Spouts” by Bill van Gilder

A couple of our all-time favorite glaze recipes



“What You Need to Know Before Designing Your Own Gas Kiln” by Marc Ward

A selection of unique works by CT readers



Save time and trouble with studio-tested tips and techniques.

“Clay Books for Kids” review by Steve Branfman



“What’s New in Pottery Tools” by Vince Pitelka

Where you can learn claywork in your community



“New Laws on Lead and Plasticizers” by Monona Rossol

Goods and services offered especially for clay artists


58 ADVERTISER INDEX A quick reference to find your favorite ceramics suppliers in this issue


Front and back views of claywork by Darien Johnson (above) and Shanna Fliegel (top right), respectivey exhibited in NCECA’s 2009 Regional Student Juried Exhibition and the 2009 Clay Biennial.

“Keeping the Faith” by Kelly Savino

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•Wind and rain at outdoor shows. Summer

thunder, hail, and rain storms that come up with little notice. Pottery doesn’t blow away, but does break when the tent blows over. Mary Lovell, Dickinson, ND

• When we bought a new trailer to cart our pots to a garden show ... my husband tied all the boxes down too tightly, they didn’t have enough room to move up and down, and EVERYTHING (about $3000 worth) was completely smashed to pieces! Natalie Harrop, Perth, W.A., Australia •

Toppling one of my display shelves into my booth neighbor’s shelf while taking down our displays at the end of a show. I didn’t break TOO many of her pieces, but still it was a tremendous loss of her time (even though I paid for the broken pieces). Sue Cline, Cincinnati, OH

Clay magazine

Editorial & Advertising: Polly Beach Circulation Manager: Rachel Brownell Accounts Manager: Nanette Greene Proofreader: Jon Singer Office Assistant: Ingrid Phillips Regular Columnists: Steve Branfman, Books & Videos David Hendley, Around the Firebox Pete Pinnell, As Far as I Know Vince Pitelka, Tool Times Monona Rossol, Health & Safety Kelly Savino, Around the Firebox Bill van Gilder, Teaching Techniques Marc Ward, Kilns & Firing Lana Wilson, Beneath the Surface

• Being put in the middle of a bunch of

Contributing Writers: Joe Campbell Sandy Huff

• Not anticipating the crowd and bringing the wrong items. Stephanie Ramm, Kannapolis, NC

CLAY TIMES INC. 15481 Second St. • PO Box 365 Waterford, Virginia 20197-0365 540.882.3576 • FAX 540.882.4196

• Selling six bowls to a customer who wouldn’t let me wrap them, and then seeing her trip! Barb Lawrence, Masset, BC, Canada

Toll-free subscription line: 800.356.2529

vendors selling mass-produced pottery at just over wholesale prices. Donna Vosburg, Morton, MS



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Clay Times® (ISSN 1087-7614) is published bimonthly, six issues per year. Periodicals Postage Paid at Waterford, VA, and at additional mailing offices. Annual subscriptions are available for $33 in the U.S.; $40 in Canada; $60 elsewhere (must be payable in US$). To subscribe, call toll-free 1-800.356.2529, or visit Freelance editorial and photographic submissions are welcome: Please contact Clay Times or visit our Web site for writer’s and photographer’s guidelines. POSTMASTER: Address service requested. Send address changes to: Clay Times, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197-0365. Copyright © 2009 Clay Times, Inc. All rights reserved. The material contained herein is derived from various sources and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. All technical material is offered as general information only and should not be acted upon without expert supervision. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher.


The final sentence of the State of Clay exhibition article on page 16 of the May/June 2009 Clay Times should have read as follows: “Kate Oggel’s sculptural “Intrados Series #28,” Steve Murphy’s anagama-fired “Fossil,” and Naoko Matsumoto’s nerikomi stoneware “Small Cosmos” all received honorable mentions.” We regret the error. — Editor [


•Doing a first-time show that the promoter forgot to advertise. Patricia Watkins, Slidell, LA


Clay Times asked: What’s your most frustrating craft show experience?

Spouting Off I Your Words

Reader Remarks

ceramic art trends, t oo l s & t e c h n i q u e s


Hot Stuff I News & Events

What’s Hot ceramic art world news • events • calls for entries Grandes region, where Mata Ortiz is located, and himself a potter, was passing through the Mexico City airport. He noticed inferior copies being sold as Mata Ortiz pottery, while prices for genuine, high-quality Mata pots have reached hundreds—and even thousands— of dollars.


The Second Annual Mata Ortiz Exhibition and Sale runs through Aug. 22 at Armstrong’s gallery in Pomona, California. Pictured above: Vase by Diego Valles, 14" x 12" diameter, handbuilt, burnished terra sigillata.



‰ MATA ORTIZ RECEIVES DENOMINATION OF ORIGIN—Fine wines have long been recognized as unique to their place of origin; Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region in northeastern France for example. Now fine pottery will have the same privilege. In a meeting between the Potters Association of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, and Mexican state and federal agencies earlier this year, an agreement was arranged to protect the world-famous Mata Ortiz pottery from copies.


A Denominacion de Origen will be created for the village, and potters will be provided with identifying seals for their pottery. The Mata Ortiz potters are generally happy with this distinction, but also fear that perhaps their sales will be more easily tracked for income taxes. Renowned Mexican products such as Tequila from Jalisco, coffee from Veracruz, and Talavera Pottery already share in this honor. Motivation for the Denomination came about when the mayor of the Casas

‰ Outside the Box: The Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2009 takes place September 23–Nov. 1 in the Republic of Korea, Heungdeok-Gu, Cheongju-Si. For details, contact Kang Sun Kyoung, Cheongju International Craft Biennial Committee, 329 Heungdeok-Ro, Heungdeok-Gu, Cheongju-Si, 361-828 Republic of Korea; tel.;; ‰ HANDBUILT, the first conference dedicated to handbuilding with clay, will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Sept. 17-19, 2009. This down-to-earth event to benefit the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) will feature demonstrators including Hayne Bayless, Sandi Pierantozzi, Lisa Naples, and Holly Walker, to be joined by special guest speaker William Daley. For more details and to register, visit: or contact Sandi at ‰ The African Ceramics Conference takes place September 18–27 in Durban, South Africa. For details, contact University of KwaZulu-Natal, King George V Ave., Durban, South Africa; tel. 27.0.31. 260.2212;; www. ‰ The 8th Biennial Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference takes place October 1–4 in Front Royal, Virginia, and will feature presentations by Frank Giorgini, Suze Lindsay, and Gay Smith. Contact The Clay Connection, PO Box 3214, Merrifield, Virginia 22116-3214; tel. 540.636-6016; conference@;

‰ Creating a New Craft Culture takes place October 15-17 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Contact American Craft Council, 72 Spring St., New York, NY 10012; ‰ Pottery from 2 Perspectives with Ellen Shankin and Donna Polseno takes place Oct. 23-25 at the Workhouse Arts Center/Lorton Arts Foundation, 9517 Workhouse Way, Lorton, Virginia. For complete details, visit www.workhousearts. org; call 703.584.2982; or e-mail dalemarhanka@ ‰ Network 2009: Symposium will take place Nov. 3-Dec. 16, 2009 and Jan. 5-February 17, 2010 in Skælskør, Denmark. Contact Ane Fabricius Christiansen, Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center, Heilmannsvej 31 A, 4230 Skælskør Denmark; tel. 45.5819.0016;; www.

Calls for Entries ‰ Digital entries are being accepted through July 29 for the Carbondale Clay National 2009, to take place Sept. 2–Oct. 29 at Carbondale Clay Center in Carbondale, Colorado. Juror: Doug Casebeer. Fee: $40 for three entries. For details, call 970.963.2529; visit; or e-mail ‰ Digital submissions of ceramic art that measures within one cu. ft. are being accepted through Aug. 1 for the Clay3 National Juried Ceramics Exhibit, to take place Oct. 23–Nov. 21 at ClaySpace in Warrenville, Illinois. Fee: $25 for two entries. Juror: Mary Kay Botkins. For details, call 630.393.2529; visit www.clayspace. net; or e-mail ‰ Slide and digital submissions are being accepted through Aug. 15 for Functionally Informal, to take place Sept. 25–Oct. 24 at Muddy’s Studio, Santa Ana, California. Fee: $30 for three entries. Juror: Randy Au. For details, call 714.641.4077; visit; or e-mail ‰ The Bemidji Community Art Center and Bemidji State University Visual Arts Dept. are accepting entries through Sept. 4 for the 7th Annual It’s Only Clay Ceramics Competition and Exhibition, dedicated to functional clay vessels. The exhibition will take place Nov. 6-Dec. 19. Juror: Richard Bresnahan. For details, call 218.444.7570; visit; or e-mail

There’s a pot in every bag of clay.

‰ Slide and digital entries are being accepted through Sept. 12 for Muddy’s Wood Fire Classic, to take place Oct. 30–Nov. 27 at Muddy’s Studio in Santa Ana, California. Fee: $30 for three entries. For details, call 714.641.4077; visit; or e-mail

Hot Stuff I News & Events

‰ Digital entries are being accepted through Sept. 1 for the 15th Annual Nellie Allen Smith Pottery Competition, to take place Oct. 23-Nov. 23, 2009 at Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Entry forms are available online at Juror: Rick Berman. Prizes will be awarded for functional and non-functional categories. For more information, call 910.433.2986 or e-mail

‰ Digital entries are being accepted through Sept. 15 for the Illuminations: The Art of Light, to take place Nov. 1–30 at 18 Hands Gallery in Houston, Texas. Fee: $25 for three entries. For details, call 713.869.3099; visit www.18handsgallery. com; or e-mail ‰ Digital submissions are being accepted through Sept. 15 for Beyond the Brickyard: 2nd Annual International Juried Exhibition, to take place Jan. 30–March 14, 2010 at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana. Juror: Wayne Higby. For details, call 406.443.3502; visit; or e-mail archiebray@ ‰ Digital entries are being accepted through Sept. 17 for Craft Forms 2009, to take place Dec. 4–Jan. 23, 2010 at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Juror: Bruce Pepich. For details, call 610.688.3553; visit www.wayneart. org,, or www.juriedart; or e-mail

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‰ Digital ($50) and slide ($75) entries are being accepted through Sept. 27 for The 28th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show 2010, to take place April 21–25, 2010 at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

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‰ Digital submissions are being accepted through Sept. 19 for the 26th Annual Juried Northern Mines Art Exhibition, to take place Nov. 2–29 at Pioneer Arts Inc., Grass Valley, California. For details, call 770.423.6614; visit www.pioneerart. com or; or e-mail

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Hot Stuff I News & Events

For details, call 202.633.5069; visit www.smith; or e-mail ‰ Entries by artists working with porcelain and pieces under 40 cm are being accepted through Sept. 26 for Proverbial Porcelain: Zelli Porcelain Award 2009, to take place Oct. 19–31 at Zelli Porcelain, London, England. For details, call 020 7224 2114; visit www.zelli.; or e-mail ‰ Entries are being accepted through Oct. 1 for Curate This! 2009, to take place Nov. 21–Dec. 27 at BECA Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana. For details, call 504.566.8999; visit; or e-mail becagallery@ ‰ Entries of work not exceeding 12 sq. in. are being accepted through Oct. 5 for Pandora’s Box, to take place Dec. 10–Jan. 10, 2010 at Target Gallery in The Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, Virginia. For details, call 301.772.9340; visit; or e-mail tfaa@ ‰ Artisphere 2010 is accepting entries through Oct. 22, 2009 for its three-day, open-air street festival, to take place May 7-9, 2010 at the Historic West-End District in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. The event will feature works by 100 artists, $10,000 in cash awards, and more than $10,000 in purchase awards. $30 jury fee. For details, contact Liz Rundorff Smith, Program Director/Artisphere, 16 Augusta Street, Greenville, SC 29601; tel. 864.271.9355; e-mail liz@greenvillearts. com. Applications are available online at the Artisphere Web site:


‰ The Contemporary Arts Center of North Adams, Massachusetts is accepting exhibition proposals for its 2009–2010 exhibition schedule through Nov. 1. For details, call 413.663.9555; visit; or e-mail


‰ Entries open to tiles 15×15x5 cm are being accepted through Nov. 30 for the Fourth International Ceramic Tile Triennial, to take place April 15–June 15, 2010 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. For details, call the Igneri Foundation at 809.531.0164; visit; or e-mail ‰ Clay artists practicing in the U.S. may submit entries through Jan. 18, 2010 for The Third Biennial Contemporary Clay: 2010. The exhibition will take place May 14-June 26, 2010 at the Art Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. Entry fee: 1/$15, 2/$25, 3/$30. For a prospectus, call Camille Silverman at 970-243-7337

ext. 6; visit; e-mail; or send your SASE to The Art Center, 1803 North 7th, Grand Junction, CO. For juror insights, google “Pete Pinnell: Thoughts on Cups.”

Ceramics Exhibitions ‰ Hamada: Three Generations of Japanese Potters, featuring works by Shinsaku Hamada, Shoji Hamada, and Tomoo Hamada, takes place through July 20 at Pucker Gallery, 171 Newbury St., Boston, Massachusetts. ‰ The Artist is in the Details, featuring works by David Furman, takes place through July 25 at American Museum of Ceramic Art, 340 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, California. ‰ Fired Works and Other Hot Items by The Kiln Club and the Ceramics Guild of Washington, DC, takes place through July 26 at Scope Gallery, located in the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Studio 19, Alexandria, VA. ‰ Origins takes place through July 26 at Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, 1701 Main St., Peekskill, New York. ‰ Featured Artist Works by Gerit Grimm, and Featured Artist Works by Ayumi Horie, take place through July 31 at Red Lodge Clay Center, 123 S. Broadway, Red Lodge, Montana. ‰ More than 50 potters from the Dan Finch Studio in Bailey, NC will continue to exhibit and sell their work through Aug. 1 at the North Carolina Pottery Center, 233 East Avenue, Seagrove, NC. ‰ Legacy of an American Potter, featuring works by Warren MacKenzie, continues through Sept. 13 at the Museum of Craft & Folk Art, 51 Yerba Buena Ln., San Francisco, California. ‰ Perspectives 2009: Georgia Pottery Invitational, Georgia’s largest annual pottery exhibition and sale, takes place Aug. 29-Sept. 16 at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF), 34 School St., Watkinsville, Georgia. The event features 5000 pots for sale; an Opening Reception Gala and Preview Sale on Aug. 28; educational exhibitions; free weekend pottery demonstrations; workshops on Sept. 5-6; and Oconee County Potter studio tours, Sept. 13. For further details call 706-769-4565 or visit

‰ 2nd Annual Lillstreet International takes place Sept. 14 through Oct. 11 at Lillstreet Art Center, 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, Illinois.

‰ On the Verge: Contemporary Ceramics, featuring works by Nicole Cherubini, Patsy Cox, David East, Heather Mae Erickson, Erin Furimsky, and Del Harrow, takes place through August 9 at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount St., Wichita, Kansas.

‰ Recent Ceramics, featuring works by Dan Anderson and Richard Notkin, takes place Sept. 25-Oct. 15 at AKAR, 257 E. Iowa Ave., Iowa City, Iowa.

‰ Royal Porcelain from the Twinight Collection 1800–1850 takes place through August 9 at Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82 St., New York, New York. ‰ Recent Work by Linda Shusterman and Alan Willoughby takes place July 25-Aug. 12 at m.t. burton gallery, 1819 N. Long Beach Blvd., Surf City, New Jersey. ‰ The Second Annual Mata Ortiz Exhibition and Sale continues through Aug. 22 at Armstrong’s, 150 E. 3rd St., Pomona, California.

‰ 17th Annual Strictly Functional Pottery National will be on exhibit Sept. 26-Oct. 25 at Kevin Lehman’s Pottery, 560 S. Prince St., Lancaster, Pennsylvania. ‰ Remonstrations from the Iconic Rustbelt: New Works by William Brouillard takes place Aug. 21-Nov. 1 at Canton Museum of Art, 1001 Market Ave N., Canton, Ohio. ‰ Plinth Gallery Artists 2009, to feature works by Peter Saenger, Amanda Jaffe, Suzanne Kane, Dan Anderson, Conner Burns, Russel Wrankle, and Kevin Snipes, takes place Dec. 4-28 at Plinth Gallery, 3520 Brighton Blvd., Denver, Colorado. ‰ Inspiration and Ingenuity: American Stoneware takes place through Dec. 31 at Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, 325 W. Francis St., Williamsburg, Virginia.

‰ Flower Power, featuring works by The Kiln Club and the Ceramics Guild of Washington, DC takes place July 27-Aug. 23 at Scope Gallery, located in the Torpedo Factory, 105 N. Union St., Studio 19, Alexandria, Virginia.

‰ Taking Shape: Ceramics in Southeast Asia takes place through Jan. 1, 2010 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1050 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC.

‰ Pitchers and Made at the Clay Studio both take place August 7-30 at The Clay Studio, 139 N. Second St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

‰ Tangible History: Stoneware from the Holcombe Family Collection, will be on display through June 30, 2011 at the South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC. This exhibit features some of the best pieces of South Carolina stoneware, most of which have never been on public display before, from the extensive collection of the Holcombe family of Clinton, SC. It includes some classic pieces by Dave (a well-known slave potter), plus examples from Thomas Owenby and other important 19th century potters. Also on view are pieces from the State Museum collection and a potter’s wheel that contemporary potters will use to demonstrate their craft on selected weekends. [

‰ International Folk Pottery Exhibition takes place through August 31 at Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia, Georgia Hwy 255, Sautee Nacoochee Center, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia. ‰ Recent Ceramics, featuring works by Jill Lawley and John Neely, takes place Aug. 28-Sept. 18 at AKAR, 257 E. Iowa Ave., Iowa City, Iowa.

To list your clay conferences, calls for entries, exhibitions, and ceramic news items in Clay Times, please e-mail the complete details to:, with “What’s Hot” in the subject line, or visit www.clay and click on the “What’s Hot” link to fill out a submission form online.

Kevin Crowe

Multichambered Kiln Wood Firing: May 2, 9 and 16

Throwing Large Forms: July 6-11 Pamela Theis Alternative Kilns and Firings: May 29-31 Joyce Michaud East Asian Coil Technique: June 6-7 Ceramic Sculpture: July 18-30 Masters’ Throwing: August 6-9 Glaze Application: August 29-30 Antonio Mendez Portrait Sculpture: August 21-23 and 28 Visit Hood’s Web site for more information. Hood College Graduate School Art Department (301) 696-3456 n Fax (301) 696-3531 Hood College subscribes to a policy of equal educational and employment opportunities.


‰ Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics takes place through Aug. 23 at the Museum of Art and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, New York.

M.F.A. in Ceramic Arts The M.F.A. and Graduate Certificate in Ceramic Arts provide students with skills and knowledge from which to build a strong aesthetic direction.

Hot Stuff I News & Events

‰ Go Figure!: The Human Form in RAM’s Collections takes place through August 2 at Racine Art Museum, 441 Main St., Racine, Wisconsin.


NCECA 2009 Regional Student Juried Exhibition

Without Mother by Crista Ames, Undergraduate, Utah State University. 24½" x 21½" x 11".


he NCECA 2009 Regional Student Juried Exhibition took place at the Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe, Arizona in April of this year. This annual student exhibition showcases the finest graduate and undergraduate ceramic artists from around the country, and takes place in conjunction with NCECA’s annual conference. The 2009 exhibition at the Tempe Center for the Arts highlighted work from the 10-state southwestern region: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Enter by Mark Monette, Graduate Student, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas. 3½" x 6" x 6".

The gallery at the Tempe Center for the Arts offered visitors a warm and friendly environment for thoughtful and engaging experiences. The gallery features a variety of curated, traveling, and juried exhibitions, from contemporary art by local and internationally recognized artists to themes of popular and cultural interest. This year’s student exhibition explored new trends and revealed some of the top emerging ceramic artists working in a variety of formats, from functional pottery to abstract sculpture to theme-based installations.

Images of several works featured in the show appear on pages 14-17. [

The Beginnings of Pleasure by Lindsay Pichaske, Graduate Student, University of Colorado, Boulder. 12" x 14" x 12".


Jurors for this show included Michaelene Walsh and Geoffrey Wheeler. Walsh holds a B.F.A. in crafts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Wheeler holds a B.F.A. in fine art from the Kansas City Art Institute and an M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota.


Untitled by Lee M. Mattingly, Graduate Student, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas.

Untitled 2: In-tangibles by Tristyn Bustamante, Undergraduate, Northern Arizona University. 12" x 15" x 9".

Where's Everybody? by Julia Feld, Undergraduate, San Jose State University. 12" x 12" x 12". 16

Iced Tea Pitcher by Perry J. Haas, Undergraduate, Utah State University. 11" x 4".

Communicant by Carla Potter, Graduate Student, University of Nebraska Lincoln. 7" x 4" x 4".

Dicephalopod: Excrescence by James Coquia, Undergraduate, Northern Arizona University. 8¼" x 7¼" x 7¾".

Punch Through by Danny Crump, Undergraduate, Utah State University. 24" x 15" x 10".



FALL 09 one week & weekend workshops Julia Galloway

Multiple Vessels as a Pottery Image Patrick Horsley Introduction to Wood Firing Bill van Gilder Teapot Form: Utilitarian vs. Diminutive Fong Choo

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Master Workshop Personalized Pots: Surface, Form & Problem Solving Julia Galloway



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Can Function Alone Carry the Message? by PETE PINNELL


have a cheap plastic double-wall travel mug in my office, the kind that is given away (when you buy a large drink) at truck stops throughout the Midwest. I don’t drink out of it very often, but it’s a very useful teaching tool. Every so often, a student potter will tell me that he (or she) “just wants to make purely functional pots.” This statement usually occurs when I’m pressing the student to answer some difficult Art-related question. When this subject comes up, I like to bring out that travel mug—which, in my opinion, is an excellent example of a “purely functional” pot. It’s inexpensive, durable, resistant to spilling, and keeps drinks warm (or cool) for long periods of time. It even advertises the name of the truck stop that gave it to me. When we’re faced with an object that is obviously more “functional” than anything we can make out of clay, it becomes obvious that there is more to “functional” pots than many of us initially realize. With further discussion, it usually comes out that the student is also interested in making objects by hand (and what is useful about such a slow, awkward, and antiquated method of production?), that they want the objects they make to be (at least) “expressive,” while some might even confess a desire to make objects that are “beautiful.” Suddenly, it seems that “purely functional” has fallen by the wayside.

enlightening. Let’s see what they’ve than enlightening. Let’s seeelse what else got: they’ve got:

Many artists will tell you that they’re not interested in function because they’d rather wrestle with “ideas.” A good friend of mine (who teaches philosophy) will tell you that everything is functional, especially ideas. So, perhaps we need to tighten our language a bit and choose a narrower word than function for the actions I enumerated in the previous paragraph. Function is one of those English words that serves multiple purposes—it takes nine definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) just to define it as a noun, and its use as an intransitive verb requires two more. Yet none of these definitions really reflects the simple actions described above. Functional (the adjective form) comes a lot closer. From the OED:

Utility: “1. a. The fact, character, or quality of being useful or serviceable; fitness for some desirable purpose or valuable end; usefulness, serviceableness.

Functional: “1c. As related to the arts, esp. to architecture: designating work executed with a view to its utilitarian purpose; also, of artists, builders, etc.: concerned with the use intended for their product, not with traditional or other theories of design.” That second part, “not with traditional or other theories of design,” is a bit confusing, but I think they’re referring to visual systems, not design in the practical sense. That definition is more confusing

“2d. Pertaining to or serving a function (opp. functionless). Also, practical, utilitarian.” That’s OK, but “Functional: serving a function”—is this really the best they can do? (I’m tempted to quote my kids: “Well, duh!”) At least this definition leads us to another useful word: utility (or utilitarian). Again, from the OED:

I think this comes a lot closer to what we’re talking about. Yet even a fairly casual conversation with a student will usually reveal that we (as artists) are also interested in expressing (or even exploring) a lot of other things; visual, experiential, and intellectual. Are these desires incompatible? These questions are at the heart of the field of ceramics, and this is the aspect of pottery that is most misunderstood by artists, both in and out of the field of ceramics. If I had to sum up the most important thing I’ve learned in 35 years as a potter, it’s that utility is the vehicle, not the destination. When utility—those basic actions like pouring or drinking—become the entire purpose of the object (the destination), then we almost inevitably end up with the equivalent of that cheap, ugly (but useful!) travel mug. By contrast, utility is an enormously powerful vehicle for carrying ideas and expression. It can carry (and has carried) a wide range of meanings, and is endlessly adaptable to just about any aesthetic or expressive purpose. Let’s


At this point, many students will decide to abandon function entirely, in order to focus on “more important things.” The coin can suddenly flip, and the “limitations” of function can seem to become serious impediments to creativity. “How can I truly express myself if I have to deal with all these restrictions?” they’ll ask.

Let’s back up a bit and define one of the terms in our discussion. What are these “functions” we so often hear about? When potters talk about function, what we’re usually referring to is a group of actions related to the kitchen, dining, and living spaces of the home: drinking, eating, pouring, serving, cooking, storing, presenting, and displaying. As I’ve previously written in this column1, this is a fairly narrow definition, but it encompasses most of the tasks we ordinarily assign to pots.

Perspectives I As Far As I Know

A Real Utility Vehicle


Perspectives I As Far As I Know


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A Real Utility Vehicle (from p. 19) start with the basic meaning of pottery’s appointed tasks: probably few objects more naturally talk about the idea of home than pottery, with its close association with the preparation and serving of food. This, in turn, is closely related to other important social ideas, like family and sharing. These acts take on even more importance when these simple acts are extended beyond one’s immediate family. In the book Three Cups of Tea2, Journalist David Relin describes Greg Mortenson’s inspiring work building schools in Northern Pakistan. The title refers to a proverb that describes what happens when you share three cups of tea with a stranger: with the first cup you are strangers; with the second cup you become friends; and with the third cup you become family. It’s hard to overstate the symbolic importance of the sharing of a meal, and the enormous influence this idea has had on societies around the world. Do I even need to mention an event known as “The Last Supper?” Every time Christians celebrate communion, they are symbolically recreating this meal. Pottery is also closely tied to the idea of beauty. This includes the beautiful object, as well as the beautiful event or experience. Contemporary potters, like other artists, are often uncomfortable discussing beauty, and sometimes afraid that even acknowledging beauty will somehow diminish the objects they produce—to make them seem shallow and unimportant. But few artists (and almost no potters I’ve ever met) would be insulted to have their work described as beautiful. Real beauty isn’t shallow or boring, after all, and it’s interesting how often the word beauty is preceded by words like “unexpected,” “simple,” or “quiet,” or is combined with seemingly contradictory traits like “awkward,” “coarse,” or “rustic.” There is no formula for creating beauty, and formulaic objects are almost never beautiful. In fact, beautiful objects are sometimes surprisingly odd or idiosyncratic. Beauty can also describe the experience of using pottery, or making it a part of some larger event. Beauty is at the heart of the Japanese tea ceremony, for instance, and it’s not just the objects that are beautiful, but the entire experience. Every movement, every sound, every flavor is selected for its aesthetic effect. For those of us who are most interested in utility, it’s good to

be reminded that it’s not the pour that’s important; it’s the beauty of the pour. On the flip side, the friendly and approachable nature of pottery provides it with the opportunity to be a surprisingly subversive vehicle for artists who wish to express social, political, or religious views. Grayson Perry (winner of the Turner Prize in 2003) is a perfect example of a contemporary artist who uses the unassuming nature of pottery to explore a wide range of social issues, including child abuse and sadomasochism. “I like the whole iconography of pottery. It hasn’t got any big pretensions to being great public works of art, and no matter how brash a statement I make, on a pot it will always have certain humility ... for me, the shape has to be classical invisible: then you’ve got a base that people can understand.”3 Closer to home, American artist Ian Anderson has received a fair amount of attention for his politically inspired pottery, including his series of anti-war soap dishes. Seriously—when was the last time you saw the words “anti-war” combined with “soap dish?” Which brings me to humor—and sexiness—and silliness, and comfort, and stylishness—and, well, everything else we might want to express or talk about as people and as artists. There is no limit to the ideas that can be combined with utility. Remember, Marcel Duchamp chose a urinal (a porcelain vessel, you know) to express his idea of the “ready-made.” In the end, both idea and utility are not only compatible with pottery—it’s almost essential that they be married within it. As a happily married couple they can agree, disagree, argue, negotiate, and find accommodation. And, they’ll be far happier together than either would be separately. [ Footnotes: Clay Times Magazine, “Fully Functioning,” 2003 Mar/Apr:20-21, and “Transcending the Naked Truth,” 2004 May/Jun:19-21.


Three Cups of Tea—One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David O. Relin.


Peter Pinnell is Hixson-Lied Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. You can reach him at

a look back at a few of our all-time favorites Shiny Clear Glaze Cone 6 Oxidation When applied too thickly, this glaze appears cloudy or milky. Gerstley Borate Silica EPK add Bentonite


50.0% 32.5 17.5 100.0% 2.0%

Readers Share I Glaze Recipes

Great Glazes

Variation One: Add 2-5% tin oxide to make this glaze opaque. Variation Two: For color, add 0.5% to 4% coloring oxides such as cobalt for blue, iron for brown, or copper for green. Experiment! Byron Temple Orange Cone 9-10 Reduction A satin matte glaze, burnt orange in color. An easily applied, stable glaze good for functional work. Spectacular with temmoku glaze applied on top. 49.0% 18.0 18.0 6.0 9.0 100.0% 6.0% 3.0% 4.0%

Each formula is provided in percentage (by weight). Results vary with clay bodies and firing conditions; always test first to be sure you’re happy with the results. To mix a glaze batch to store in a 5-gallon bucket, multiply each percentage ingredient by 50 grams (for a half-bucket with room for dipping) or 100 grams (for a very full bucket). It is the responsibility of the user to have glazes tested for stability. [


Custer Feldspar Cornwall Stone Whiting EPK Ball Clay TOTAL add Red Iron Oxide add Zinc Oxide add Rutile


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Yep ... we like to work in clay, but sometimes we need to stop to ask ourselves evaluation questions. It helps to ask a plethora of detailed questions because they pinpoint areas of strength or weakness in your work. Some of the questions below will not seem relevant to your work. Skip them. Add your own questions. Try evaluating work other than your own, and pretend your own work is by someone else to distance yourself from it. Ask yourself if you are evaluating the art, or the craft of how well made the piece is, and what are the ideas or meanings intended by the piece. You might circle what seems particularly relevant and skip over the parts you are not interested in.

Idea Are you making what most fascinates you? Which of the following holds the greatest intrigue for you: shape, surface, design details, content, new techniques, pattern, texture, simplicity, intricacy, organic qualities, appendages, edges, narrative line, etc.? Do you want to emphasize functional tableware combined with one of the above fascinations? Of course, it could be some combination or added thing to the above questions. The main point is to keep paying massive sweet attention to your ideas. I often find the first piece I make based on a new idea has enthusiasm, but I need to do a series of five to ten to work out the nuances of details. How could I have thought that looked good? Consider whether you need to look at ceramic history, contemporary ceramics, nature, painting, etc. to be further inspired and figure out more what fascinates you in clay and how you might do it.

One Native American culture has a “rule of six.” The rule advocates that people think of

Shape Do you like the top, middle, and bottom parts of the shapes you make? What section of the shape is the weakest? If you changed part of it, would you make it larger or would you trim it down? Does it need to be taller or shorter or wider or thinner? In other words, do you like the height/width proportions? Does it need a foot to set off the shape, or a lid or top to complete the shape? Is it a good size? Recently, when a competent group was critiquing my work, one woman said there was something she hesitated to bring up (which probably meant it would be very helpful information that other people were also thinking about and hesitant to mention). She wondered if I realized I was making what I wanted to be serious work, yet it was craftfair size. I could immediately see that she had a point. The size was too small to carry the message; it trivialized what I was trying to do.

Surface: Color, Texture, Shiny or Matte Are you satisfied with the color or does it need to be darker, lighter, mottled, more varied, all warm, all cool, or is it one of those “totally different let’s start again” surfaces? Maybe the color is great but the surface needs to be

more mottled instead of one flat color. At a critique, I once heard one teacher say all the colors worked on a piece, but the background black was so plain that it just detracted from and pulled down the work. The student then showed a piece that had slivers of a Redart slip showing in crevices of the black, and that detail made a significant difference. Should your piece be shiny or more matte? Do you like the color but want a different feel to the surface? Do you need to have it the same color but a mixture of shiny and mottled matte surfaces? Would your piece be stronger if you made it smooth or had areas of texture or an overall texture? You may want to make a series of the same shape and, after brainstorming on ways to handle the surface, follow with the “rule of six,” or attempt six different surfaces.

Edges Is the top edge the final glorious detail, or does it look as if you got tired and stopped working too early? Should it be thicker, thinner, irregular, or ragged? One time at a critique, what bothered the class members was that the slab-constructed box of a fellow student showed an uneven thickness of the slab. It wasn’t a smooth edge, so your eye got stuck on that unfinished detail. Should the color be different on the top edge for emphasis, or be the same to blend in? Is the foot or bottom area of your piece defined enough? Should it be wider or taller? Does it need to be in better relationship to the top edge? We have all seen pieces where the artist seems to specialize in gorgeous rims or feet, but leaves one of those


As you generate new ideas, consider that thinking can be divided into two distinct modes: generating and judging. You cannot effectively generate ideas and freely judge them at the same time. During your idea production time, don’t worry about the right answer, or seek elegant divergence and an excessive number of ideas. Have fun and create some ridiculous plans. Judging comes later. Don’t worry about speed or efficiency during ‘idea time.’

a minimum of six possibilities to explain all events of life. Maybe you should adopt the “rule of six” for ideas about what you are going to make (OK, at least test out a “rule of three”).

by LANA Wilson

Perspectives I Beneath the Surface

Considerations for Critiquing Claywork


Perspectives I Beneath the Surface

Questions for Evaluating Claywork (from p. 23) two underdeveloped. Are the edges within the piece satisfying? Should they be more smooth, textured, or a different color?

Appendages Do the handles or appendages add to your piece? Should you make them larger, smaller, textured, and smoother, or would your piece look better with no appendages?

Influences (contributed by Hayne Bayless) “Sometimes I realize what I like about a piece I’ve just made is that it looks like or reminds me of something someone else made—some image that I have stored away in the memory bank that resonates without revealing itself. That’s not necessarily a problem; there isn’t much that has nothing to do with what came before it. But the thing is I don’t necessarily know that while I’m making it. I think it’s different from judging. It’s more about being aware of what influences you, where it came from, and why you’re drawn to it. Sometimes the subconscious is good at hiding that process from your conscious (at least mine is).

Selling (contributed by Hayne Bayless)

SchoolArts magazine inspires…

Expression How will SchoolArts inspire you?

How much does “will it sell?” enter into your thinking? In other words, are you considering only aesthetic and technical aspects of the piece, or do the realities of commerce and making a living come into play? Should selling never influence creating, or are they inseparable aspects of the craftsperson’s job?

Gut Feeling: This is your intuitive feeling about whether the piece works and you like it, or perhaps something is not right. You can grow by changing the piece in front of you or starting a fresh one in the series. Your intuition can be a non-verbal coach helping you out and nudging you toward better work.


These are just some of the questions you can use. You will think of others. Pause and look ... and look, and look, every single day—at your own work, at others’ work, and at the world. [


Rock and Roll guitar. Created by a middle school student. Article in the January 2008 issue, “ART Rocks!”

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at, or call (800)533-2847

LanaWilson is a long-time handbuilder and her e-mail is lana@lanawilson. com. She alerts you to a weekend handbuilding CERF Benefit workshop with four handbuilders on Sept. 17 to 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, log onto:

Making ‘Trough’ Spouts TEXT & PHOTOS by BILL van GILDER

In Form I Teaching Techniques

Part Two of a Series

Necessary supplies for this project include teapot body forms, bowl of water, Surform® rasp, rubber rib, fettling knife, wooden dowel, sponge, and cut-off wire.

Fig. 1


s described in my Part One column about making teapot spouts, the usable teapot with an efficient, graceful spout attached will often be the first method of spout-making a student will attempt to master. Now, take it a step further. In your demo, show students how to change the scale and look of their spouts, as well as the pot.

Prior to your demo, as I described above, make a round-shaped bowl with a thick, rounded rim. Trim an indented foot into its base or leave it flat-bottomed. Either foot-style will do. Bowl trimming tip: The average diameter of the foot of a bowl will generally be one-half the measured diameter of the rim. The bowl I’ve made for this demo is 9" in diameter, rim to rim, across its center. The total width of the foot is 4½". These proportions allow for stability yet visually lift the bowl from the table in a lively way.

Take your leather-hard bowl, your necessary tools, and your 2-lb. lump of clay to your wheel. Center the clay into a solid form that’s twice as tall as it is wide. At the top of the form, open downward to a depth of about 1" and then widen the opening to 3". Now coax the wall upward and slightly inward during the first pull. As you make this first pull, keep in mind that the inside base area of your spout will, like a teapot spout, need to remain wide for an easy attachment later on. Wet your spout thoroughly and pull the wall upward again until it’s a bit less than ¼" thick and 2½" to 3" tall. The inside diameter of the spout will need to be about 2" at the rim (Fig. 2), next page. If the width is less than 2", the spout won’t pour efficiently. A spout that’s too big or too small will look out of proportion and will visually appear out of balance in relation to the bowl. With the wheel moving at a medium speed, use your narrow dowel to smooth the inside wall of the spout, then use it to create a very small bevel at the inside edge of the rim. Use your curved rib to remove the slip from the outside wall as you press and coax the form into its final, curved shape (Fig. 3), next page.


To make the trough-type spouts described here (Fig. 1), you’ll need to have previously made a now leather-hard, round-shaped bowl form. If you choose to extend your demo, have a tall, round pitcher form on hand, too. Both forms will already be trimmed or footed and ‘attachment-ready.’ The bowl form is the first thrown shape I teach to students. Adding a thrown spout to their bowl project is an interesting small-scale addition, using a few simple attachment techniques.

The Throwing Demo


In Form I Teaching Techniques CLAYTIMES·COM n JULY/AUGUST 2009


Fig. 2

Fig. 5

Fig. 3

Fig. 6

Fig. 4

Fig. 7

Stop the wheel and use your cut-off wire to cut the spout from the hump of clay by pulling the wire horizontally through the base of your spout. With dry fingertips positioned in a square, lift the spout up and place it carefully onto a small ware board (Figs. 4 & 5).

The Attachment Allow your spout to set up a bit, or force-dry it until it’s very soft leather-hard. Now use your fettling knife to cut the tapered form in half from rim to foot (Fig. 6). (You’ve now got an extra spout for another bowl. It’s a two-for-one deal!) Pick up one of the spout pieces

Following the wet mark left on the bowl wall by the wet base edge, use your knife again to cut away that rounded piece of the bowl (Fig. 8). Again, with your wet fingertips and a small, damp sponge, soften the sharp edges of the cut.

Fig. 8

Next, pick up the spout and wet the wide, curved base edge; then pick up your bowl. Holding the two at eye level, firmly press the spout in an angled-up position to the side of the bowl, completely covering the cut-away area. Lastly, use a bit of gentle thumb or sponge pressure around the base of the spout, connecting it securely to the wall of the bowl (Fig. 9). Tell your students, “You can now add a looped handle opposite the spout, on the other side of the bowl. I’d attach the top of the handle at the rim and end it just below the widest point, which is the ‘belly’ of the bowl. You can use this same spout configuration on a coffee pot or pitcher form, too.”

In Form I Teaching Techniques

to the wall of the bowl where it will eventually be attached. Make sure the lip of the spout is even with, or above, the rim of the bowl. Immediately remove it and set it back down on its ware board.

Making an Attached Pitcher Spout

Fig. 9

Make another spout form from your lump of centered clay. But this time, because this spout is going to be larger than your bowl spout, use more of the clay at the top of your lump. As before, open the clay at least 3" wide and pull it up until it’s about 3" or 4" tall and tapered inward. (Any shorter than 3", and we might as well pull the rim up into a pouring spout as when making any traditional pitcher!) The top diameter of this spout will again measure about 2". Now, follow the steps shown in Figs. 4 through 9. Once your spout is securely attached to your bowl or pitcher, you have the option of using a Surform rasp tool to trim away and round the top corners of your spout (Fig. 10). Both these forms—the pitcher and the bowl—are all about curves. By rounding the corners of the spouts on both pieces, I’m able to visually connect the curved appendages to the rounded forms. Adding curved handles to our pots helps to further complete them; and of course, makes them super functional.

and, using your wet fingertips and a then damp small sponge, soften and slightly round the two knife-cut edges, from rim to base. Again, use your knife to cut and trim away most of the thick clay at the spout’s base edge (Fig. 7). You’ll want the base edge wall to be a bit less than ¼" thick. Next, wet the curved base edge and very lightly touch it

Bill van Gilder has been a full-time potter since the 1960s and teaches pottery-making workshops. He may be reached by email at His potters’ tool line, van Gilder Tools, is available via the Clay Times online store at, or by calling toll-free 1.800. 356.2529.


Fig. 10

There’s one more ‘disc-thrown’ spout idea I want to show you. This one is possibly the easiest of all the spout-making techniques. We’ll also get to some ‘pulled-from-the-rim’ spouts, which are typically used when making the more traditional pitcher form. But those are for the next class—and the next column. Let’s get to work! [


A Clay Portrait Looks at the Mythical Soldiers of China

The Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin STORY AND PHOTOS BY SANDY HUFF


A giant replica of a soldier as a marionette hangs in the visitors’ center.


Xian, China—The statues are beautifully burnished. No clay crumbs lurk in ears, no seams or stray fingernail marks roughen the smooth skins and expressive hands. Even the inside of their sleeves and the undersides of their tunics are smoothed out. The erect figures are perfectly balanced too, each standing upright on a platter sized base. Deceptively simple, the 2,200-yearold clay men and horses are astonishingly well executed.

I was in Xian, China, visiting the famous Terracotta Warriors that guard the tomb of Emperor QinShihuang (259-210 BC)

who might threaten the First Emperor of China sleeping in his fabled tomb buried 150 feet deep under the huge hill behind them.

The 8,000-plus clay men and horses discovered in three deep pits are touted as the most important archeological find in China, even outshining the bones of Peking Man.

As a clay portraitist, I could see how well these wonderful statues were made. The more I looked, the more details came out, and the more questions I had.

The 2,000 figures that have been restored stand or crouch, ready to fight interlopers

How in the world did these ancient sculptors produce such masterpieces?

Since discovery of the pottery warriors in 1974, hundreds of pieces have been carefully reassembled to portray the original forms created more than 2,000 years ago.

More than 8,000 clay men and horses in three deep pits comprise the most important archeological find in China.

Pit 1 is a combined battle formation of charioteers and infantrymen. At the eastern end of the pit, there are three rows of vanguards. Immediately behind the vanguards is the main body of the battle formation. Around the outer edge, there is one row of soldiers facing south, north, and west respectively as the flanks to guard the sides and rear of the army.

The ‘yellow earth’ clay itself came from nearby. Teams of barefoot workers stomped the wet clay into uniform mush, strengthened with fine grit. Their version of wedging consisted of pounding the sieved clay with paddles into wide slabs I’d guess were about two to four inches thick.

A number of molds produced the main pieces: heads, hands, armored tunics, and flared skirts. Wet clay was probably pressed into fired clay molds. Like the Mayan sculptures I’ve seen, fine sand might have ‘greased’ the insides to keep the wet clay from sticking to the mold. One report said that each torso was formed by coiling clay into a rough shape, then the molded outer parts were added. My own guess was that when the clay was at the

leather-hard stage, dried enough to keep its shape and incidentally shrinking so the piece was easier to take out of the mold, the body parts were joined with slip, and the joints strengthened with internal coils of clay held by fabric. Ears, eyes, nose, lips, and detailed hairdos were molded onto each head. The long neck was left open at the bottom, both to vent gasses, and to allow a hand inside.


After looking at the real statues and many illustrations, hearing the talks, and using my own experience, here’s how I think they were made.


Along with introducing uniform weights, axle widths, and coins, Emperor Qin introduced quality control by insisting that the artisans sign their work. Archeologists have identified the marks of 87 different artists who worked on these figures. Each sculptor had his own style. One made smooth beards, while another used sharp bamboo to cut in individual hairs, while another used the equivalent of a wire brush to detail hair and goatees. Neck scarves, hair, even the folds of their clothing were hand carved into the clay. All the soldiers’ legs seem to be a standard size. Even the big General, tallest of them all at 6'5", and with the fanciest headdress and uniform, had the same legs as the foot soldiers. These legs were solid clay, showing quilted trousers that also thickened the legs. Soldiers are lined up to guard the Emperor’s tomb in Pit #1, still under excavation.

Those legs had to be strong. Each figure stands about 5'10", and weighs from 240 to 660 pounds. In another pit, a dozen acrobats stand on nicely proportioned bare legs and feet. Getting the figures balanced and standing upright had to be tricky. Shoes and legs were solidly fastened onto thick base slabs about the size of a platter. Did the ancient sculptors use armatures to support the hollow bodies? It doesn’t seem so. One torso showed deep gouges on the inside, which would have both lightened the piece, and formed support ribs. But another broken torso had a smooth interior.

Even the warriors’ horses were depicted in clay.

Experts believe firing temperatures in big, conical kilns ranged from 950° C to 1,050° C. I’ve only used electrical kilns for my thrown heads. How did these ancient potters gauge the temperature of their kilns? They must have used up whole forests of wood and charcoal!


In the final step, each figure was painted in vivid colors. Enough traces of paint exist to show that colors varied widely, with rank possibly shown by tassels, hats, and even height.


No two soldiers look alike. Did individual soldiers parade past the production line, or one man per regiment show up as a model for each uniform, or did the artists simply model for each other? Decide for yourself. Try a Web search on ‘terracotta warriors’ or, better yet, visit them in person. However they were made, these statues are magnificent. [

A Well-kept Secret ... The real tomb of Emperor Qin, who unified the seven kingdoms to make one China, is still in place. It is under a large hill, one mile west of the pits. An exact replica of his real palace, with a mercury river and gems for stars, is supposed to still be intact. It is buried 75 to 150 feet deep, and though some shallow tunnels have been found, experts believe that no tomb robbers actually got to the real tomb. Today’s archeologists are afraid to excavate, as there are three layers of ground water that would need to be diverted. They think they might flood the tomb by accident. They compared the dirt of the tumulus hill to surrounding soil, and it has 200 times the amount of mercury—so they think even the mercury river is in place.

By now the people were thoroughly disgusted. Two generals led rebellions. Rebels burst into the underground terracotta army, stole the weapons, broke every statue they could find, and fired most of the supporting beams and wooden roofs. Crops were planted over the site. Two millennia passed. The statues lay forgotten, until well-digging farmers discovered intriguing fragments, and a local journalist wrote a small piece about them in his small newspaper. Now they belong to the world.

No two soldiers look alike. Marks of 87 different artists have been identified by archeologists who have examined the dig.


The emperor, however, was a megalomaniac. He had 700,000 workers toil for 38 years to build this fabulous tomb, working most of them to death. So

many men were out of the labor force, and so much wealth was being funneled into Xian, that the common folk were starving. When he died, all the laborers and artisans, plus all the ‘surplus’ women around the palace, were shut up in the tomb and buried alive. Since it was such a huge place, well supplied with whale oil lamps, they might have lived for a long time.



At left: The Quiet Baby by Anne Drew Potter, Helena, MT. 32" x 13" x 18".


Above: Eva by Barbara Frey, Commerce, TX. 9" x 8" x 8".

NCECA 2009 Clay Biennial The 2009 NCECA Biennial featuring 55 artworks by 51 artists—selected from more than 1500 works submitted by 835 artists—was recently on exhibit at Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramics Research Center in Tempe, Arizona. Chosen by jurors Christy Johnson, Director of the American Museum of Ceramic Art, in Pomona, CA; Jeanne Quinn, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado; and Chris Staley, Professor of Art at Penn State University; the Biennial showcased excellence in ceramic achievement in a wide variety of contemporary approaches. Commenting on this variety, Juror Jeanne Quinn wrote, “I decided that it was important that we simply choose the work of the highest quality, regardless of style, technique, or content, rather than impose a more unified but necessarily also exclusionary vision. This makes for a rich mix of work.”

Above: Milk for the Butter Thief by Tip Toland, Vaughn, WA. 10" x 52" x 20".


Above: Clay Tablet VI by Karen Massaro, Santa Cruz, CA. 4" x 9" x 8.25".

A selection of works from the show appears on pages 32-34. A fullcolor catalog and digital set documenting the show may be purchased through NCECA or the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center. [


The Secret to Hiding by Lauren Mayer, Longmont, CO. 40" x 28" x 11".


Girl with Crow by Margaret Keelan, San Pablo, CA. 33" x 12" x 12".

Seau by Brian Molanphy, Santa Fe, NM. 15" x 16" x 9".


Influences Joe Campbell: As I’ve done with all the other folks, let me ask you to address what you believe to be the most important influences on your career and work, please.

pieces that came from a pottery company called Bullers, which my mother had a family connection to. The Bullers company made electrical porcelain, but also had this range of oatmeal colored domestic ware—tankards, pitchers, baking dishes—that definitely reflected a kind of folk influence. Using these pots was very “comforting” in a way—with nice puddings and milk custards served in them. Many of the other pots in the house were really ornate, “higher status”—if you will—but these “knock-around” tableware pots were my first experience with “friendly” folk-inspired pieces. My family’s connection to Spode provided countless opportunities, both at the factory and in museums and exhibitions, to see great pots. I was really lucky to be raised surrounded by amazing pots. When I went off to high school, I had some opportunities to make pots in the art studio, and kind of intuitively knew what to do—and made a few pieces that were quite competent at the time. What I do remember is that I enjoyed it, and, in a way, thought it was quite easy. However, throughout

Gallon Pitcher by Mark Hewitt. 12" tall. Wood-fired.


Mark Hewitt: I was raised near Stokeon-Trent, England, the big industrial ceramic center, and my father and grandfather were both managers of the Spode China Company. I grew up in a house full of pots. Not just pots from England, but pots from everywhere, that my dad brought back from his many business trips to Europe. There were pots of all types at home, but one early memory that stands out is of some tableware


I visited Mark Hewitt at his Pittsboro, North Carolina home and studio in October, 2008. Mark’s pottery is located near the Seagrove area, one of the most vibrant centers of traditional and contemporary American ceramics. Through his fine work, teaching of workshops, and his writings, Mark has become well known to most in our profession. For more information and images, log onto:


my education, I was really being groomed to become part of the management class, like my family was doing at Spode. But, after my “gap year” travels to the Middle East and India between high school and college, I decided that the corporate path was not for me, and then about half-way through university, a friend gave me a copy of Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book.


Joe: Phil Rogers and I talked earlier about this very same thing: How do you think Leach’s book affected your outlook at the time, and why?


Mark: It affected me greatly. The “Zeitgeist” in the early ’70s—anti-Vietnam war protests, the oil crisis, the whole back-to-the-land movement, and then Bernard’s book—all those things just rang true with me. I also remember getting Leach’s book about Hamada, and another book called Potters on Pottery, that had interviews with Svend Bayer and Michael Cardew, among others. From all these influences, I was beginning to believe that maybe

I could make a living as a studio potter. And then as luck would have it, Michael Cardew’s 75th birthday retrospective exhibition had its British debut at the Bristol Museum, right were I was going to university. I went off to the opening with a friend whose family were neighbors to Michael back in Cornwall, and was introduced to him there. The next day I went to a showing of the biographical movie about Michael—Mud and Water Man—that I had not seen before. Early in the film, there is a section that chronicles an interview and conversation that Michael had with my grandfather when he was the managing director of Spode. Cardew lectured my grandfather that the pots they were making were absolutely awful, and they should be looking at Chinese pots instead. Essentially they should change their whole design philosophy. My grandfather turned to him and said—“We’ve got dozens of people like you every week telling us what we’re doing is wrong.” I was terribly embarrassed by it all. Ironically, Cardew ended up working

at Spode for a couple of months, designing some work to be produced—work that I think now was some of his worst! By my last year at university, I had really gotten hooked on making pots. The Craftsmen’s Potters Association had published a book that listed many of the potters in England and told if they were taking on apprentices. It also detailed how to go about approaching them— letters and the like. So during spring break, off I went. Svend Bayer was the first stop I made, but at the time he was working by himself and wasn’t looking for anyone. So he said, “I guess you’re off to see Michael next—just don’t show him any of your pots—he doesn’t even like his own!” With great trepidation, I met with Michael the next morning, and, surprisingly, he was really quite nice to me. To make a long story short, I went to work for him. You know, that was where my eye really developed—Michael has been the single biggest influence on my career. In addition to all the pots we made in the studio, and all the pots we used in the house, he also had a little

“museum” in an old converted pig sty, with pots from all over the place that he had collected. Michael’s place was in no way a “production” pottery, it was much more like a tiny Art School. We discussed pots, we sat around the table and ate using these pots, and then we went out to the studio and used these incredibly arcane procedures that were very unproductive. It was beautifully and absurdly inefficient and idealistic! Shortly after leaving the apprenticeship at Michael’s, and doing some traveling, I came to the States. I worked for about 2 ½ years at Cornwall Bridge Pottery in Connecticut with Todd Piker. Todd had been an apprentice with Michael before me, and it was with Todd that I learned how to throw, and how to be efficient in many other ways about production.

Design Joe: Considering the pots you make now, what do you see as influences from a design standpoint? Mark: During the time of both these apprenticeships, I had also done some

traveling, to Africa and to Asia, and these travels certainly had an effect on my eye. But after returning to the States and getting married, then moving here to North Carolina, the dominant design influence on my work has been the North and South Carolina historic alkaline-glaze and salt-glaze tradition. My design sensibility comes from very specific historical research that I’ve done, and close scrutiny of the pots made by specific people within the traditions. I go out of my way any time I hear of some new pots to see that are from these makers. There’s a sensibility you absorb when you experience thousands of pots. Every handle you’ve ever seen—you sort through how they spring off the lip of a mug for instance, or how the shoulders of pitchers slope– so the ones that you make are as good if not better than any you’ve ever seen. I see the tradition in North Carolina like a library or laboratory. You can go in and research what you want—pick and choose. At times, I feel like a genetic engineer, splicing bits and pieces of these different traditions together to

Right: Mark Hewitt in front of his kiln. Below: Teapot. 5" x 7". Wood-fired with salt. Opposite page: Wood-fired Jar, 52" x 28", in Hewitt’s yard.





Bowl. 10" diameter. Red slip trailing and blue glass runs; wood-fired.


Joe: Do you see any ways that your patrons and customers have influenced what you do?

That said, I have to say that I make pots to sell. As much as I make them just to enjoy their making, I can’t continue to make work unless I sell it. I am subject, in that sense, to what the market enjoys. For a contemporary audience, however, I’ve got a pretty hard-core aesthetic. I make “boring brown” and “drippy green” ash glaze pieces. The truth is I can only get away with it because they are exceptionally beautiful brown and green pots! Here in North Carolina, there’s a very sophisticated ceramic sensibility within the marketplace that is directly related to the years of tradition and “consuming” pots. I have to perform well in this marketplace to get people’s attention. You can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes around here.

Mark: In one sense, not at all. I try to sell to my customers the pots that I really want to make!

I have a repertoire of pots that I’ve developed over the 25 years I’ve been here, and I keep refin-

get a new, healthier hybrid. For instance, the blue glass that I set into my pots comes from Lincoln County tradition. They very likely first did it to seal a handle back onto a jug that had started to crack off while drying, and not only did it work to seal the crack, it was decorative as well. Now what I’ve done is to cut it up into pieces and place it in a much more ornamental way into my pots as a real deliberate design feature. It’s this cross-pollinating of influences that has created a style that has a contemporary resonance.


ing it all the time. Take pitchers, for instance—I love making the classic Cardew fat-bellied pitcher. But my pitcher has a slightly lower belly, more like a Verwood pitcher from Dorset, a somewhat different style handle from the north Devon tradition, a Southern ash glaze, and is often fired in salt! It’s back to genetic engineering again. I’m really looking for the best from all these traditions, and I put them together in a way that pleases me. And guess what? The customers like them, too! In many ways, my design decisions go well beyond the wheel, involving what glazes and decoration work on a particular piece, their placement in the kiln, firing temperatures, the amount of salt I use in a particular firing—all decisions are equally important. Then there’s the marketing, equally complicated. That, too,

has to be done just right, with lots of research, cunning, and hard work.

Environment Joe: How do you think the actual physical and cultural environment in which you live and work affects your work? Mark: A lot! We’ve already talked about how the traditional pots and potters from the Carolinas have impacted my work, and these regional traditions—I suppose in a way it’s almost like a wine-making region. Take Burgundy, for instance: there’s something very specific about the soil and the cultural history that’s rare and special, separating it from other wine regions. Now you can’t just say you’re going to make Irish whiskey in Burgundy. Even if it’s the best Irish whiskey around, people are

Also, as odd as it must seem, the hundreds of potters who are located in this area actually are a plus for each other. There’s strength in numbers in many ways. When you think about theater, you think about Broadway. When you think about stock brokers, you think about Wall Street. And, when you think about American pottery, you think about Seagrove. In my opinion, with the possible exception of Japan, this is one of the best places in the world to be a potter.

Legacy Joe: Would you talk a bit about how you see the whole concept of legacy —both incoming and outgoing— if you will?

making pots in one way or another. I’ve read a statistic about students who earn degrees at art schools: that only about 5-10% go on to make a living as professional working artists in their field of training. I would say almost all of my former apprentices have a career in clay, and are doing at least OK. There is something very important about the economic viability of this apprenticeship system, and it is not often acknowledged. It has at its core a sense of resilient and dignified continuity. The legacy for me is that quality comes out of this system. It begins and ends with the work itself. The potters that I admired from the past showed me the very best that they could do, and my standard is the same. If I were to get specific about the role I have played here in North Carolina, it’s that I have been able to see the similarities in what Leach and Hamada and Cardew did, and meld it with the traditions of the 19th-century Carolina potters. I really see the Southern Pottery Tradition as being a significant cultural expression that is as important as the Southern musical tradition. My legacy has been to adapt a Southern cultural form into something that has contemporary relevance by dovetailing it with the traditions and practices that I learned from Cardew and others in England, a little like an English guitar player discovering the Blues!

Surface detail of wood-fired jar by Mark Hewitt.

Many of the potters in this area who are still working at least in part with the 19th-century style and techniques have also “reconfigured” old practices, and really moved the tradition into a new place. It’s inspiring! I think it spurs all of us on to do better work. We’re really showing each other the very best that we can do. It inspires me to change, and to shift, and adapt—to be better at all the things I do. I just feel inordinately lucky to work in North Carolina and be surrounded by such a talented group of potters. [ Coffee Pot by Mark Hewitt. 9" tall. Wood-fired with salt. Author Joe Campbell is Professor of Art/ Ceramics at Frederick Community College in Frederick, Maryland.


Mark: We’ve already talked a lot about the influences—legacies if you will—that have had an impact on my career. But the apprenticeship system that I came through in England, and now have in place here in North Carolina, comes to mind first. To me it’s really about generosity. Cardew very kindly took me into his home and taught me everything I was prepared to learn from him. I am extremely grateful to him. I’ve now had about 15 apprentices, and all of them are still


still going to come looking for burgundy wines. Because of the long and complicated cultural history of North Carolina and its potterymaking traditions, there’s an appreciation here that you won’t find, say, in Oklahoma. Pots and potters have a status here that you don’t find many other places. It’s not just the potters and their customers creating a vibrant cultural mix—it also includes advocates, who in various different capacities, have helped to promote Carolina pottery over the years. If you want to look back in time for one example, look at Jacques and Juliana Busbee in the early 1900s, and their steps to revive traditional pottery by starting Jugtown Pottery. On a more contemporary level, there’s the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove. There are countless other examples of people helping potters.




BY marc ward


o, you’ve finally made the decision to build a gas kiln—you just couldn’t do without it any longer. The hesitant spouse is now on board (or at least you’ve convinced yourself that they’re shoulderto-shoulder with you on this path ... and you thought that might be the hard part)! You’ve moved ahead, and you know where the kiln is going. You’ve sort of “felt out” zoning issues, and figured out a way to pay for the project. It’s usually at about this point when folks call me to gather information. Many ask the same question, and are usually surprised and a little aggravated by my answer. The question goes something like this: “I’m going to be building an (x)-cubicfoot kiln, and I’m curious ... do you carry kiln plans?” “I’m sorry, but we don’t,” is my answer, in a voice that anticipates the next question, which is always the same. “Well, do you know where I can find some?” “Hmm ... not really,” I reply, in the same voice as the car service department manager when you ask if this is going to be a cheap repair. There is always a pause at this point, as I expect our kiln-building pilgrim is wondering why I don’t have an answer. So ... why don’t I have an answer?

Corners get cut, small changes get made (which are unavoidable with custom construction), and materials get fudged. When a project has tons of variables, small changes here and there can have large consequences. When problems arise, the designer doesn’t want the grief that results from something they had no control over. They would accept the grief if they were initially compensated for the potential of impending boo-boos, but the buyer of plans doesn’t want to pay the price for the plan maker’s acceptance of responsibility. (Think ‘architect’ here: You can get that fabulous custom home from the architect who wears the glasses that take fashion guts, or you can go to your local big-box home improvement mega-store and buy a book of ‘50 Great Home Plans Now’ for $24.99.) There just aren’t enough potters building backyard kilns to justify the equivalent kiln plan book. Want to know what the few people who actually plan kilns for other people do? They also charge to come build it. So where does this leave the aspiring fire monkey who wants his or her own kiln?

Well, the designer of the kiln has no control over the implementation of the design.

The most common brick used in kiln building measures 9" long x 4½" wide x 2½" thick. The

9" length x 4½" width is the key to the floor plan. Depending on the pattern in which you lay the bricks, the internal dimension is always going to be divisible by 4½", unless you want to cut bricks at every corner, on every level (course)! So with a shelves that are 24" deep, the closest number that you can evenly divide by our magic 4½" brick width is 27" (or three 9" bricks). That would be the front-toback depth of the kiln. With the width, you have to add some combustion area and some space for the bag wall. Now, 4½" per side for combustion area and a 2½" bag wall on each side add up to an additional 14". Add to that our 24" of shelf— that’s 38". Now all you have to do is find a number that’s divisible by our 4½" that all this stuff with fit into. 40½" fits the bill (four 9" bricks plus one 9" brick turned 90° to add 4½"). 36" doesn’t fit the bill; 45" is too big. See how easy this is! How high do you want to go? If you’re using 2½" bricks, your height will be divisible by that number. But remember: the greater your outside the width (in this case 40½"), the more uneven in temperature the kiln can become. So, why offer this little exercise with math and our kiln building blocks? If you want the kiln you really want, you just might have to plan it yourself (and you thought the real work was with spousal enlightenment!) You may need to realize that this is your very own baby, from conception to completion. [

Marc Ward is owner and operator of Ward Burner Systems, PO Box 1086, Dandridge, Tennessee 37725. He invites you to sign up for his free newsletter, and can be reached by phone at 865.397.2914 or through the online catalog and Web site at the following address: www.


I used to provide kiln plans, but I stopped. What’s the big deal about kiln plans? Basically, folks want custom kiln plans at offthe-shelf prices. But potters have different needs for different sized kilns. It’s hard to come up with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of design. There’s also my basic reluctance to accept blame. (Now you’re wondering, “What blame?”)

After having the brief conversation that’s outlined above, I ask some questions. How often are you going to fire? How long will it take you to fill up the kiln, realistically? What size shelf are you going to use? The shelf size is really important. Many folks think you build a kiln, then buy kiln furniture for it. Nope! You should build the kiln around the type of shelves you plan on using. Once you have decided on your shelf size and arrangement, you can come up with a floor plan. If you have a floor plan that calls for two 12" x 24" shelves, you basically have a 2' x 2' shelf plan. That just needs to fit into some basic dimensions.

Shop Talk I Firing

What You Need to Know Before Designing Your Own Gas Kiln


Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery Have your work considered for publication in The Gallery! Please send a high-quality color print, slide, or 1050-x-1500-pixel (minimum) digital image to: The Gallery, Clay Times, P.O. Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, Web and/or e-mail address, type of clay, glaze, firing method, and dimensions of the work. (Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for photo/slide return.)


Bowl Form. 7" x 12" x 10". Thrown and altered stoneware, cone 06 matte glazes, electric firing. George Roby, 92 E. Belmeadow Lane, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022.


Stacked Salt Dishes. 4" x 4" x 1" each. Textured brown stoneware with slip and stain. Lindsay Rogers, 66 EnergyXchange Dr., Burnsville, NC 28714. E-mail: Website:

Finger Suit. 27cm long, 21cm high, 16 cm wide. Handbuilt with gold acrylic-painted fingernails. Terra cotta, manganese dioxide and iron oxide finish; fired to 1200° C. David Metaxas, Kingsley Villa, Athol Park, Port Erin, Isle of Man IM96ES U.K. E-mail: Website:

Readers Share I Art Works

The Gallery

Deconstruction Cylinders. Slipcast, fired to cone 6 oxidation in a methane kiln. Cylinder in the middle is the tallest of the group: 8" high x 3" wide; others measure 6½" high x 3" wide. Ross Edwards, P.O. Box 21a, Penland, NC 28765. E-mail: Website:

Niyaz. 10" x 10" x 10". Stoneware with natural ash glaze, fired for 8½ days in an anagama kiln. Joe Bruhin, 3253 Red River Rd., Fox, AR 72051. E-mail: Web site:


Forget Me Not. 15" x 17" x 15". Handbuilt stoneware, glazed and electric-fired to cone 05. Rebeca Gilling, 555 N.E.15th St. #36-D, Miami, FL 33132. E-mail: Web site:


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GREAT NEW PRODUCTS—including expanded back issue collections on CD—now available at the Clay Times® online store! Your one-stop shop for CT subscriptions & renewals, new potter’s T-shirt designs, potters’ books & tools, and much more

review by steven branfman


am often asked to recommend clay books for kids: parents want to start a new activity, potters experienced in teaching adults want to expand to offer kids’ classes, and teachers need help in structuring their classes and designing new projects. While most handbuilding books and books that cover beginning throwing will help you in your quest to teach kids, those books written especially for our ‘future potters of the world’ deserve to be brought to the forefront. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of every book for kids ever written or available, it is a selection of books worth looking at. Don’t expect critical analysis here—these are all fine books, none of which will disappoint or steer you in the wrong direction.

Clay Connections by Craig Hinshaw Poodles Press • Paperback • $19

Here is a comprehensive handbook that covers educational philosophy, clay as a material, classroom organization, forming methods, surface decoration, firing, glazes and glaze firing, and additional suggestions for making your student’s experience with clay complete and rewarding. Clay in the Primary School is not so much project-driven as it is about method, technique, and ways to help teachers introduce and incorporate clay and clay working techniques into their curriculums. Clough’s instructions are clear and to-the-point. His suggestions for projects are well designed and presented with clarity and purpose. The book is well illustrated with color and black-and-white photos and drawings. I especially like his treatment of surface decoration and his offering of ideas on sawdust firing, pit and bonfire firing, and the building of a very simple wood kiln. Clough’s instructions are practical, and his style is encouraging and helpful.

Exploring Clay with Children by Chris Utley and Mal Magson A&C Black • Paperback • $29.50 Completely project-driven, this wellillustrated book is a perfect companion to Clay in the Primary School. Five simple projects introduce the children to pinching, coils, solid modeling, slabs, and plaster casts. The authors are very basic in their approach, and elementary in concept and focus. Once the basic methods are explored, the next chapter takes ideas to the next level, allowing for more specific subject matter to be incorporated into the student’s vocabulary and experience. Short chapters on digging clay and firing complement the well designed and visually attractive book.

Clay Projects for Children by Monika Krumbach A&C Black • Paperback • $34 Also project-driven, Clay Projects for Children offers a selection of more complex ideas and approaches for elementary through


Written specifically for elementary school children, Clay Connections is wonderful, and filled with great ideas. The author’s goal is to design projects that tie the creative process and art experience with academic lessons being learned in the classroom. Succeed he does! When talking about Egypt, why not make a small mummy and coffin? How about making a small aquarium castle for the classroom fish between biology lessons? Making sundials when learning about the sun and planets is another great option. Hinshaw includes a variety of projects that address history, culture, social issues, and society. He introduces each project with an explanation of the content, theme, and goals. His writing is very clear and easy to follow. Clay Connections is well illustrated, with crisp black-and-white photos and line drawings, and is supplemented by 26 color photos of finished projects. There is a comfortable degree of clay experience assumed on the part of the teacher, yet enough information and instruction for adults is included to help those with little or no clay experience work with their students. Hinshaw even offers suggestions on how to convince your school authorities to allow you to purchase a kiln! Craig Hinshaw is a dedicated teacher, passionate about sharing his knowledge with his students and about helping others do the same.

Clay in the Primary School by Peter Clough A&C Black • Paperback • $29.50

Resources I Books & Videos Hot Stuff I Events

Clay Books for Kids


Resources I Books & Videos

middle school students. This book is equally useful for parents in a home setting and teachers in their studios or classrooms. The author presents a wealth of approaches, ideas, and concepts certain to satisfy a variety of activities and studies. Chapter 1, “A World in Clay,” presents the reader with an overview of clay and ceramic art, the theme and style of the book, how students can benefit from the clay experience, and simple ways to introduce children to the clay.

and elbow pots, and pinch-and-coil pots taught in Part One lead the teacher and students toward combining those methods in Part Two. Part Three introduces slab building as the work gets progressively more complex in skill and concept. Part Four teaches ideas of clay and printmaking: coil stamp prints, rubber stamps on tiles, and relief tiles. Part Five contains wind chimes, bells, and whistles, while Part Six presents two large group projects—a chess set and dinnerware.

Basic forming methods covered in the first few projects quickly give way to more complex, yet easy-to-master ones. Many of the projects are introduced within a greater context of culture, social relevance, stories, and literature, while others are simply aesthetic and creative. The author encourages drawing ideas out of nature and personal experience and the projects range from serious to whimsical to just plain fun! Pots for eating, modeling figures and animals, musical instruments, and inspiration from nature are a few of the avenues presented. The final project chapter shows clay as a building material, with two projects designed to illustrate that application.

Each of the 25 subjects (there are many more individual project ideas than that) begins with a clear introduction, materials list, stepby-step instructions, evaluation criteria, and my favorite part: extensions. It is here that interdisciplinary and multicultural links are presented, discussed, and outlined, along with ways to further enrich the student’s experience with the project. The book is generously illustrated with lovely color photos and drawings. The organization and visual layout are handsome and make reading comfortable. There are the obligatory sections on clay as a material, health and safety, kilns, and a nicely formulated glossary. As I said, The Great Clay Adventure is one of my favorite books for teaching kids.

Clay Projects for Children is well organized, jammed with color photos, expertly written, and crafted with care for both the teacher and child. The Great Clay Adventure by Ellen Kong Davis Publications • Hardcover • $26 Have I saved the best for last? Well ... I don’t know about that, since when it comes down to it, choosing the right book for you is a subjective matter. But The Great Clay Adventure is one of my favorite books for kids.


It takes only a brief skimming of the book to see that Ellen Kong is a passionate art educator. What she brings to this book is a clear understanding of the value of sequential learning and the ways in which children learn to make artwork. The projects that she presents simultaneously follow a progression of concepts, skills, and techniques. The simplest forming methods such as the knee

46 46

There are many other excellent books for kids. The Kids ’n Clay Handbook by Kevin Nierman (reviewed in the July/Aug. 2000 issue of Clay Times) is outstanding. Also very good are The Incredible Clay Book by Sherri Haab and Laura Torres; Children, Clay, and Sculpture by Cathy Weisman Topal; and Mudworks by MaryAnn F. Kohl. The titles presented here are all projectoriented how-to books. There are also many outstanding books for children on clay history, culture, individual potters, and more. I guess I’ve got an idea for a future column! [

Steven Branfman is an accomplished potter, author, and teacher of pottery and ceramics at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts. He is the proprietor of The Potters Shop and School and may be reached by phone at 781.449.7687 or via e-mail at


Shop Talk I Tool Times

What’s New in Pottery Tools I

have attended the NCECA conference every year for the past 15 years, minus two years due to a small glitch in my leg. I love NCECA for so many reasons. It is always a pleasure to see the friends from the Clayart Internet discussion list and/or academia, and of course the exhibitions offer a diverse range of contemporary work. But I spend most of each day at my non-profit exhibitor’s table in the exhibition hall, talking up my clay program at the Appalachian Center for Craft; and circulating through the hall, talking to vendors and makers about the new tools on the market. This year yielded a nice crop of new tools from a variety of makers and suppliers. A piece of very good news is that Designs by Dolan LLC is back, offering their extensive line of fine handmade Dolan high-carbon steel trimming tools, knives, and clay saws. The full Dolan line is available from most ceramic suppliers, or directly from Dolan at, where you can download their catalog as a PDF file. When Dolan shut down temporarily, a well-known manufacturer of clay tools started producing imitations of Dolan tools with no licensing or authorization from the Dolan family. In order to discourage such practices and to ensure the highest quality, make sure that you are getting authentic Dolan tools rather than knock-off imitations. All Dolan tools are made in the U.S.

Dirty Girls offers a new range of wood modeling/throwing tools with precisely angled ends.


Kentucky Mudworks (www.kentucky is producing a wide range of very fine tools under the “Dirty Girls Pottery Tools” branding, and all of their products are made in the U.S. I examined their full line of tools at NCECA and have had the opportunity to try out a number of them in my studio. The folks at Kentucky Mudworks are working with a long-time maker of fine handmade kitchen tools, and he has contributed to the very clever and effective details on many of their pottery tools. I am especially impressed with the Handy Facet Tool, available with

Among this year’s new tools are the “Ergo-Max” cut-off wires above, featuring end loops cushioned with soft tubing, or the “Wiggle Wire” version featuring the same construction but with a wavy wire.


Scott Creek Extruders

SC033 XL Clay Gun

SC001 Clay Gun

2636 Pioneer Way East Tacoma Wa 98404 800-939-8783 Fax 253-922-5349 SC002 Clay Gun Die Kit

SC035 Clay Gun Shape and Coil Set

The Steve Tool ®

Wild Texture on Pottery! CLAYTIMES·COM n JULY/AUGUST 2009

One Tool - Many Results


SC034 Clay Gun Handle Die

SC036 Clay Gun Tile Trim Set

Shop Talk I Tool Times

Vince is impressed with the "handy facet tool" from, available with either a straight wire or a “wiggle” wire, and features a finely-finished wood body with precision brass fittings for retaining and tightening the stainless steel wire.

either a straight wire or a “wiggle” wire, and featuring a finely-finished wood body with precision brass fittings for retaining and tightening the stainless steel wire. This is simply the finest faceting tool I have seen. Dirty Girls offers a range of wood modeling/ throwing tools with precisely angled ends, such as the “60-30 Tool,” which features a 60° angle at one end and a 30° at the other. I like the size and feel of these tools, and they seem ideal for those who like a consistent angle at the base of a pot or elsewhere in the design. The “Angled Comb Tool” is similar but has a 45° angle on one end and a notched comb edge on the other for creating pattern and texture. Their “Slab Bevel Tool” is especially nice, with 30°, 45°, and 60° wire angles for beveling slab edges.

Rick McKinney was once again present at NCECA with his MKM Pottery Tools (www. At the Appalachian Center for Crafts my students and I have been testing a wide range of Rick’s tools, and I am consistently impressed with the high quality and practical design of his products. There’s a lot to say about them, and in

Keith Lebenzon, 1946-2008 I will continue the coverage of new tools in my next column, but this one ends on a very sad note. For over a quarter of a century “the Brushman,” Keith Lebenzon, has been a fixture in the exhibition hall at many NCECA conferences and American Craft Council craft shows, displaying, selling, and winning numerous awards for his exquisite handmade brushes. I first saw his brushes while in graduate school at U-Mass Amherst in the mid 1980s when I attended the West Springfield ACC show. I was captivated by the artistry and craftsmanship in his one-of-a-kind brushes, and just had to have one despite a tight budget. I couldn’t help myself. At NCECA in Phoenix I noticed his absence on my first circuit through the exhibition hall. Another Clayart member went online and discovered the sad news that Keith passed away on September 21, 2008 of a stroke at age 62. This is a tragedy for all of us

who appreciated Keith and his fine artistry. Keith’s understanding of brushwork in sumi painting and ceramic decoration was born of long experience, practice, and research. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ceramics at the University of Oregon, and started making brushes in 1971 to decorate his own pots. From the start, each Lebenzon brush was a work of art with its own personality. Keith went to a great deal of trouble to select and finish unique natural wood handles, often leaving branching twigs intact to provide a built-in stand or offer interesting ways of holding or hanging the brush. To my knowledge, Keith was the only person hand-making such interesting and effective artisanal brushes domestically in significant quantity and variety. Keith Lebenzon’s brushes were so wellmade that I am sure they will continue to be used by fortunate owners for decades to come. If you’ve got Lebenzon brushes, treasure them. For the rest of us, I’d be interested in hearing about any domestic makers who offer individually hand-made artisanal brushes appropriate for use in ceramics. If you know of any, please contact me. They can’t replace Keith, but I hope they will strive toward the level of quality and design found in his work. [

Vince Pitelka is professor of clay at Tennessee Technological University’s Appalachian Center for Craft, an active participant on the Clayart Internet discussion group, and author of Clay: A Studio Handbook. You can contact Vince through his Web site at http://iweb.tntech. edu/wpitelka.


Innovative cut-off wire designs were popular at NCECA this year, and the Dirty Girls wires are available either as the “Ergo-Max” straight version, featuring end loops cushioned with soft tubing, or the “Wiggle Wire” version featuring the same construction but with a wavy wire. Both are available in several different lengths, and I find that the loop ends offer a range of holding and stretching options that are difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional cut-off wires featuring wood T-handles.

the coming year I am planning to devote a column to Rick, his pots, and his tools. He has recently expanded his selection of finely-crafted hardwood relief stamps. New additions to the line include theme stamps such as Chinese characters and animal imagery. He has also added a range of very small stamps originally intended for use with PMC and clay jewelry, but they’ve been popular with potters as well. Perhaps most exciting, Rick now has the equipment to make custom hardwood stamps to your design. You can contact him through his Web site.


The Slurry Bucket Looking for helpful studio tips? Got some to share? This is the place... Getting Organized Building a u-shaped, ‘surround’ table around your wheel helps to increase production by creating an efficient workflow. When you’re sitting at the wheel, lumps of clay are to your right, the wheel is at center, and your ware board for finished, wet pots is located within easy reach to your left. Your tools are right in front of you. Building the work table takes just one 3/4" x 4' x 8' sheet of plywood, four 4" x 4" x 8' cuts for legs, and six 2" x 4" x 8' boards for framing. Bill van Gilder, via e-mail [

Send us your useful clay tip or technique to share with our readers. Mail with your T-shirt size to: The Slurry Bucket, c/o Clay Times, PO Box 365, Waterford, VA 20197.


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Do They Affect Clay Artists? by MONONA ROSSOL


brand-new consumer protection law was passed last August. Tired of waiting for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take any action, the Congress and Senate pass the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) on August 14, 2008. This new law forced the CPSC to amend its regulations to include greater restrictions on lead and phthalate plasticizers (the chemicals that make vinyl and other plastics pliable) in children’s toys and articles.

LEAD RESTRICTIONS Recent studies show that there is no level at which lead does not have some adverse effect, especially on children. To address this problem, the new regulation progressively reduces the amount of lead allowed in children’s products to lower and lower levels.

The new CPSIA rule mandates a reduction in this current lead limit in paint on the following schedule: • Currently, the limit is 600 ppm (0.06 % calculated as weight % of lead)

• On August 14, 2011, the limit is 100 ppm (0.01 %) These levels apply to the date products are sold, not the date they were manufactured. So products made before these periods are retroactively subjected to the various limits. Old stocks of materials cannot be sold past the dates the new rules are effective.

PLASTICIZERS The phthalate plasticizers are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, that is they act as hormones in the body. They can be easily absorbed into the body when children mouth the toys, by inhalation when they outgas into the air, or even by skin contact to some extent. As of February 10, 2009, the new CPSIA rule made it unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, distribute in commerce, or import, children’s toys or childcare articles that contain certain phthalates called DEHP, DBP, or BBP* at levels higher than 0.1 percent. The legislation further bans from any children’s toy that can be put in a child’s mouth or childcare articles the phthalates called DINP, DIDP, and DNOP* at levels higher than 0.1 percent. California has restricted these six phthalates plus one more (DnHP or di-n-hexyl phthalate) for some years under their Proposition 65 labeling law. But the California rule only requires labeling of products containing the 7 phthalates on all consumer products, not just children’s products.

ARE CRAFTSPEOPLE IMPACTED? One would assume that this would affect sale of ceramic glazes that contain lead or the polymer clay products that contain phthalates that might be used by children–which the CPSC defines as age 12 or younger. And one would assume wrongly. This is because the CPSIA rules apply only to children’s “articles and toys.” Art and craft materials do not fall under this definition and are not regulated under this new law. Instead, art and craft materials are regulated under the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act. This Act requires the manufacturer to hire a toxicologist to review the formula of a product and determine what he/she considers to be proper labeling for safe use of the product. Theoretically, if a particular toxicologist did not think that lead at these levels or phthalates were really a hazard in this art material as used, they could allow the manufacturer to label the product without warnings! I don’t actually think they would do this, but even then, manufacturers would still have to provide the lead and phthalate warnings mandated by California’s Proposition 65. The only way the CPSIA law can affect craftspeople directly is if they use lead glazes, artists paints containing lead, or polymer clays that contained the banned phthalates to make children’s “toys” for use by children age 12 and under or “child care articles” for use by children age 3 or younger such as decoration on bibs, pacifiers, high chairs, cribs, etc. As long as craftspeople make objects for people older than age 12, the new law does not apply.


Under the old regulations, CPSC defined as “banned hazardous products” certain products, toys and other articles intended for use by children and certain furniture articles on which the paint contains lead in excess of 0.06 percent of the weight (or 600 parts per million - ppm) of the total nonvolatile content of the paint or the weight of the dried paint film or surface coating.

• On August 14, 2009, the limit is 300 ppm (0.03 %)

Studio I Health & Safety

New Laws on Lead and Plasticizers:


Studio I Health & Safety

TOY TESTING Avoiding making toys for children under age 12 is probably wise in any case. For years, toys have been subject to rigorous testing for small parts, breakage, and other hazards. Now every manufacturer of a product subject to a CPSC rule, large or small, must also provide a “General Conformity Certificate” to certify, based on unit testing or a reasonable testing program, that the product complies with the lead and/or phthalate rules. Included in the testing requirement are children’s products including cribs and pacifiers, small parts on wooden or metal toys and dolls, metal jewelry, baby bouncers, walkers, and jumpers. These certificates must accompany the product through the distribution chain from source to retailers. Some substances that are exempt from testing for lead or phthalates include unpainted and untreated wood, untreated natural textiles such as cotton or wool, metals such as surgical steel and sterling that are known not to contain lead, pearls, and semiprecious gemstones that are not associated in nature with lead.**

PENALTIES The Act imposes or increases both fines and jail time penalties and mandates coordination with the CPSC when effecting a manufacturer’s product recall. The law increases civil penalties for failure to report possible product hazards to the CPSC in a timely manner, from $5000 per violation with a cap of $1,825,000 to $100,000 per violation with a cap of $15 million.




The law allows states to set standards that are even stricter such as those in California and Illinois. In addition, the law has an unusual mechanism that “deputizes” individual state attorneys general by granting them authority to sue in federal court under CPSC jurisdiction, subject to intervention by the CPSC itself. While I can only speculate on whether states will exercise this option, I can surmise that states could actually support their enforcement activities with fines and settlements similar to the way fines support California’s enforcement of Proposition 65.

The outgoing Bush Administration blocked CPSIA’s funding for a larger staff and enforcement activities. But since it does not cost the CPSC anything to institute the new limits on lead and the phthalates these provisions are in place anyway.

RESALE & USED PRODUCTS This law also provides a reality check for thrift shops or non-profit arts organizations that resell donated items for either children or adults. These provisions are so important, I have quoted the CPSC’s press release and underlined vital information: The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties. When the CPSIA was signed into law on August 14, 2008, it became unlawful to sell recalled products. All resellers should check the CPSC Web site ( for information on recalled products before taking into inventory or selling a product. The selling of recalled products also could carry civil and/or criminal penalties.*** Recycling and resale groups must check the recall status of all items they accept and they must not accept children’s items without evidence that the lead and phthalate limits have been met.

INDIRECT CONSEQUENCES One other way the law could impact craftspeople indirectly is through legal liability. For example, if a teacher of children age 12 and younger gives students lead glazes or a polymer clay labeled with a California phthalate warning, and if a child develops elevated blood lead levels or endocrine problems that are alleged by the parents to be associated with the use of the craft materials, a personal lawsuit could be filed against the teachers and/or the manufacturers of the products. Then, the fact that products containing these substances are banned in other children’s

products could be used as evidence of negligence.



I don’t worry about this new law because craftspeople should not be making children’s toys unless they meet all the other requirements such as breaking strength, small parts, sharp edges, and much more. It was very expensive to comply before; now with the certified testing for lead and phthalates, it is even more expensive. And I have been worried for years about thrift shops and nonprofit arts organizations that redistribute donated materials without making any checks on their potential hazards. This law should put some checks in place for these facilities. As for teaching ceramics or art to young people, it has been my opinion for many years that students age 12 years and younger shouldn’t use lead glazes and polymer clays anyway. So the new laws do not make any substantial changes in my recommendations. [

Footnotes: * The phthalates named in the CPSIA are: DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate); DBP (dibutyl phthalate); BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate); DINP (diisononyl phthalate); DIDP (diisodecyl phthalate); and DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate). California also regulates DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate). Other untested phthalates may legally be used in children’s products, but I think no phthalate should be allowed until full chronic testing shows it is safe. ** For further information on the new law, go to *** CPSC Press Release #09-086, Jan. 8, 2009

Monona Rossol is an industrial hygienist/chemist with an M.F.A. in ceramics/glass. She may be reached at ACTS, 181 Thompson St., #23, New York, NY 10012-2586; telephone 212.777.0062; e-mail

Check out these listings to find local programs for wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculptural techniques, & more … Classes are listed alphabetically by state




Flat Rock Clay Supplies — 2002 South School Ave. (Hwy. 71), Fayetteville, AR 72701; 479.521.3181;; info@flatrock clay. com; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile, special topic classes and workshops.

Trails Recreation Center — 16799 East Lake Avenue, Centennial, CO 80015; 303.269.8400;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, glazing.

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center — 980 Briarcliff Rd., Atlanta, GA 30306; 404.874.9351; www.; Callanwolde is located in Mid-town Atlanta, and offers basic through advanced wheel and handbuilding classes, as well as electric, gas, raku, salt, and soda firing.



Echo Ceramics — 8186 Center Street, Suite D, La Mesa, CA 92124; 619.884.4597, www.getcenteredclay. com; Classes for beginners and intermediates; studio space for rent; fully equipped pottery studio and showroom. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults.

Meiklem Kiln Works — 46 Lebanon Rd., Bozrah, CT 06334; 860.886.8562; meiklemkilnworks@; Pottery, art, yoga & energy classes, artisan gallery/gift shop, teambuilding workshops, birthdays, and more! Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, classes for adults and children.

Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge — 4469 Chevy Chase Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011; 818.790.4353; www.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, glazing, firing, raku, classes for children and adults.


Get Centered Clay Studio — 8186 Center Street, Suite D, La Mesa, CA 92124; 619.884.4597,; Classes for beginners and intermediates; studio space for rent; fully equipped pottery studio and showroom. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults.


Northern Colorado Potters’ Guild — 209 Christman Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80524; 970.416.5979;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, glazing, fused-glass jewelry.

MAINE The Red Door Pottery Studio — 44 Government St., Kittery, ME 03904; 207.439.5671;; Year-round classes, all skill levels, monthly workshops, private lessons, retail gallery, shows. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

Eastern Market Pottery — New location on Capitol Hill at 320 3rd Street NE, Washington, DC 20002; 202.544.6669; Sculpture, gallery, tools, and supplies; stoneware, wheel-throwing, glazing, decorating. Hinckley Pottery — 1707 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20009; 202.745.7055; sweber@; Day, evening, and weekend classes are offered for all skill levels. Enrollment is ongoing. Wheel-throwing, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

FLORIDA Artistic Services — 6810 Green Swamp Road, Clermont, FL 34714; 321.947.7667; RMrsNice@; Relaxed pottery for children and adults on Saturday mornings at our horse farm. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing.

MARYLAND Art Space on Main — 138 West Main St., Elkton, MD 21921; 410.620.6020; info@artspaceonmain. com; Classes for beginner to advanced adults and children, wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, workshops, raku, warm/fused glass, 24/7 studio access, studio membership for independent artists, gallery. Baltimore Clayworks — 5707 Smith Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209; 410.578.1919; www.; matt.hyleck@baltimoreclayworks. org; workshop contact: forrest.snyder@baltimoreclayworks. org; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, mosaic, decorating, printmaking, slipcasting, wood firing, salt firing. The Frederick Pottery School, Inc. — 5305 Jefferson Pike, Suite C-2, Frederick, MD 21703; 301.473.8833;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, wood firing, cone 6 oxidation. Jayne Shatz Pottery — 452 Laurel Valley Court, Arnold, MD 21012; 410.757.6351;;; wheel-


Art Students League of Denver — 200 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203; 303.778.6990 x100;; Full ceramics program with classes for adults and children, taught by nationally-recognized faculty artists including Barry Rose, Gayla Lemke, and Shelley Schreiber. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults, classes for children.

Resources I Classes

Community Pottery Classes


Resources I Classes


throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, glazing, firing, wall relief and tile, workshops, critiques, marketing strategy, group and private sessions.

Workshops with

Montpelier Arts Center — 9652 Muirkirk Rd., Laurel, MD 20708; 301-377-7800; montpelier. Classes for children to adults including handbuilding and wheel-throwing; electric, gas, wood, and raku firing; and special parent-child workshops.


Xavier González

Shiloh Pottery, Inc. — 1027 Brodbeck Road, Hampstead, MD 21074; 410.239.8888;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding.

July 18-19, 2009 “Art Affair” Boulder, Colorado

classes; great workshop schedule; great facilities. See our Web site for more info. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults, classes for children. Private and shared studio rental.

MISSOURI The Potter’s Obsession, LLC — 13035-B Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO 64145; 816.941.2555;; obpotter@kcnet. com. Wheel-throwing; handbuilding; cone 6 electric firing; raku firing; classes for adults.

MASSACHUSETTS Cynthia Curtis Pottery — 80 Pigeon Hill St., Rockport, MA 1966; 978.546.6186;; www.cynthiacurtis Year-round classes for all ages and abilities. Also private lessons, independent study program, retail gallery. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops.

Aug. 1-2, 2009 Crested Butte Arts Festival Crested Butte, Colorado

Mudflat Pottery School, Inc. — 149 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145; 617.628.0589;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile.

To schedule a workshop with Xavier González, call 818.779.0990 or e-mail:


Fulwood Measure


Two Rivers Ceramic Studio Co. — 77 Elm St., Amesbury, MA 01913; 978.388.2215; www.; A cooperative studio with programs and classes for both the independent and student ceramic artists. Wheel-throwing and handbuilding; electric and gas firing; guest artist workshops; classes for adults and children.



Ox-Bow — 3435 Rupprecht Way, Saugatuck, MI 49453; 800.318.3019;; Two-week intensives with Tip Toland, Franscesc Burgos, Sarah Lindley for beginning and experienced artists. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, wood firing, mold making & casting, classes for adults.


The perfect tool for same-size production pottery. Unique hinged pointer measures height and diameter of the pot and moves out of the way when not in use. With the Fulwood Measure, you can get it right every time. Handcrafted in beautiful hardwood and made in the USA.

Kissimmee River Pottery

One 8th Street #11 Frenchtown, New Jersey 08825 908.996.3555 riverpots @

MISSISSIPPI Bodine Pottery & Art Studio — New location: 432 West Frontage Dr., Wiggins, MS 39577; tel. 601.928.4718;; hukmut@; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, PMC (precious metal clay). Natchez Clay — 101 Clifton Ave. (overlooking Mississippi River), Natchez, MS 39120; 601.660.2375;; Ongoing

Red Star Studios — 821 West 17th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106; 816.474.7316; www.; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, workshops, gallery, studio space.

NEW JERSEY The Art School at Old Church — 561 Piermont Road, Demarest, NJ 07627; 201.767.7160;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, glazing, raku. Thompson Park Creative Arts Center — Monmouth County Park System, 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738; 732.842.4000, ext. 4343;; sliu@; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, workshops, raku & electric kilns, beginners thru advanced for adults, children, parent/child. Visual Art Center of New Jersey — 68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ 07901; 908.273.9121;; All things clay.

NEW MEXICO Taos Clay — 1208 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87529; 575.770.4334;; Private and community studio & gallery offering classes, workshops, residencies, & studio space. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, wood firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

NEW YORK Artworks at West Side YMCA — 5 West 63rd St., New York, NY 10023; 212.875.4129;; A friendly studio with three clay bodies, great open studio hours, fabulous teachers. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, photo-ceramics, majolica classes, lustre firings, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

Clay Art Center — 40 Beech Street, Port Chester, NY 10573; 914.937.2047; www.clayartcenter. org; Clay classes for adults & children and monthly workshops in wheel-throwing, sculpture, & special topics. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, wood firing, guest artist workshops, independent study, studio space, summer camps.

PENNSYLVANIA The Clay Studio — 139 North Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106; 215.925.3453;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.

TENNESSEE Mud Puddle Pottery and Supply — 538 Highway 70, Pegram, TN 37143 (20 minutes outside Nashville); 615.646.6644;; mudpuddle@bellsouth. net; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture.


The Clay Lady’s Studio: The Educational Facility at Mid-South Ceramic Supply Co. — 1416 Lebanon Pike, Bldg C, Nashville, TN 37210; 615.242.0346; www.;; full schedule of ongoing pottery classes as well as weekend workshops.

Finch Pottery — 5526 Finch Nursery Lane, Bailey, NC 27807-9492; 252.235.4664;;


The Painted Pot — 339 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231; 718.222.0334;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture.; wheel-throwing. Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts — 236 Clingman Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801; 828.285.0210;; odyssey@; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile.

OHIO Yost Pottery Studio — 1643 Massillon Road, Akron, OH 44312; 330.734.0763;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, tile, firing. Clayspace — 831 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43220; 614.449-8144;; A fully equipped ceramic studio offering clay classes taught by ceramic artists in a casual atmosphere. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric and raku firing, glass, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

Potter’s Wheel — 14011 Falba, Houston, TX 77070;; www.giftedpotter. com; 281.728.0747. We are a private teaching studio and gift gallery in a busy shopping center. Wheelthrowing, handbuilding, electric firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children, paintyour-own pottery. SUNIN Clay Studio — 13473 Wetmore Road, San Antonio, TX 78247; 210.494.9100; suninpottery@ ; A full-service working and teaching studio where potters and students express

Chinese Clay Art

Texture Mats

Round Edger

Glaze Sprayer

themselves in clay. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

VIRGINIA The Art League School — Located near the Torpedo Factory at 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703.683.2323;;; wheel-throwing, handbuilding, sculpture, tile, mosaic. Manassas Clay & Tin Barn Pottery Supply — 9122 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110; 703.330.1040;;; wheelthrowing, handbuilding, sculpture, glazing, raku. Lorton Arts Foundation-Workhouse Arts Center — 9504 Workhouse Way, Bldg. 8, Lorton, VA 22079; (703) 584-2982; www.workhousearts. org or; A collective and highly dynamic environment with the goal of promoting ceramic art through research, education, and outreach. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, ceramic sculpture, tile, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults and children.

WYOMING Potters’ Depot LLC — 75 East Benteen St., Buffalo, WY 82834; 307.684.4555; pottersdepot@msn. com.Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, gas firing, raku firing, guest artist workshops, classes for adults, teens, and children. Fully equipped pottery studio with gallery and supplies. [ A year-round listing of your community pottery class in CT and on our Web site is available for just $99 — an EXCELLENT VALUE! To feature your classes, visit our online submission page: or call 540.882.3576.





Ceramic – Pottery – Glass – Studio Equipment Discount Packages – Delivery – Installation – Instruction Mike Swauger • (540) 636-6016 TOLL FREE 1-877-KILNDOC 202 East Main Street, Front Royal, VA 22630 Serving VA, WV, MD, DC & DE


CHARLOTTE NC Setting up a studio? Your full-service pottery supplier featuring clays by Standard, Highwater and Laguna; kilns, glazes, chemicals and equipment. School orders welcome!

Resources I Classes

BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center — 10-34 44th Drive 1st Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101; 718.784.4907;; http:// Spacious, fully-equipped studio, year-round adult classes, ceramic artist rental shelves, pottery for sale. Wheel-throwing, handbuilding, electric firing, guest artist workshops, private parties.


Resources I Classified Marketplace

Classified Marketplace Opportunities • Excellent opportunity for exploring wood firing in a natural Ozark forest setting. Studio assistant desired in exchange for room, board, small stipend, studio space, and kiln space— anagama, noborigama. For details, contact Joe Bruhin, 870.363.4264; e-mail: joebruhin@; Web site: • JOIN AMERICANPOTTERS.COM TODAY! Be a part of a national, searchable database for FREE ... or an “online gallery/portfolio” to sell your work, without commissions. If you have a Web site, join with a “link” page. All information is editable by you, without Web knowledge. Go to the site and click on “FAQ” for more info. • The Bemidji Community Art Center and Bemidji State University Visual Arts Dept. announce the 7th Annual “It’s Only Clay Ceramics Competition and Exhibition,” dedicated to functional clay vessels. 2009 juror: artist and potter, Richard Bresnahan. Accepted works on display at the BCAC, Nov. 6th through Dec. 19th, 2009. Prize money for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place equaling $1,600. Additional purchase awards for work going toward BSU Margaret Harlow Vessel Collection. Submission deadline: September 4th, 2009 (postmarked). Application: $30 for 3 entries. For details contact the BCAC at 218.444.7570 or For prospectus and application, check the web at

Kiln Repair • Kiln Repair. All makes — Washington, DC metro & Northern Virginia. $55/hour (onehour minimum) plus parts. Larry Safford, The Studio Resource: 703.283.7458; larrysafford@


Tools for Potters


• Manabigama Wood Firing Kiln Plans — Fires and ‘flashes’ 30 cu. ft. of pots beautifully in 8 hrs., or extended firings to c.12 using approximately ½ cord of stove wood. Great teaching tool: 6-8 students/ firing: 25-30 pots ea. Plans include: Complete materials list, step-by-step kiln building photo disc w/descriptive notes; plus kiln prep, loading and firing, cooling/ unloading details, glaze & slip recipes, more. Kiln building workshops available at your site. Questions? Contact: John Thies,

Bill van Gilder at www.monocacypottery. com or tel. 301.898.3128.

Travel • Mata Ortiz Contact — Week-long workshops for potters in Mata Ortiz. Learn their unique handbuilding, decorating, and firing techniques in the Mata Ortiz potters’ homes. $900 fee includes transportation, food, lodging and all workshop expenses. Small groups, all skill levels welcome, a high-quality experience. Next workshop will be July 14-22. Visit or e-mail • Potter’s Workshops and Tours in an Undiscovered Mexico. Explore the immense, but little-known, ceramic diversity of deep Mexico. Handson learning and uncommon, smallgroup travel among the ancestral masters.;

Videos & Books DVD: Advanced Pottery Projects with Doug Oian — Enhance your skills to include Large Bowls, Pitchers, Handles, Lids, and Carved Candle-lanterns. $50 fee includes shipping. www.SunrisePottery. com; tel. 210.494.8633. • Order Great Glazes I & II for just $15 each at the Clay Times online store at These classic hands-on studio glaze books feature dozens of favorite glaze recipes for a wide variety of firing temperatures and atmospheres. • — DVDs with Robin Hopper, Gordon Hutchens, and Graham Sheehan. Video workshops for potters at all levels of experience. Choose from 21 titles. E-mail or call 800.668.8040. Workshops • Cynthia Bringle 3-Day Hands-on Workshop — Throwers and handbuilders welcome. Improve Your Skills, Sept. 21-25, Mon. dinner-Fri.breakfast, 4 nights (double), 11 meals, cost $550. Wildacres, Little Switzerland, NC. Contact; tel. 828.765.0240;

• Tip Toland, Symbolic Self-Portrait, July 19-August 1, 2009. Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency in Saugatuck, Michigan. Residency available. For more information, visit or call 800.318.3019. • Jason Walker, Drawing on Form- Handson workshop at HUMMINGBIRD Studios and B&B in Southern Oregon, July 24-26. Here is a chance to learn concepts and techniques to combine two-dimensional imagery and/or decoration with three-dimensional form, be it sculptural or functional, using porcelain (or white stoneware), underglazes and brushwork techniques (as well as some very good sgraffito tricks). Construction methods such as slab work, slip casting, and throwing will also be demonstrated. For more info and a registration form, go to Also planned: Ron Meyers, Gesture in Form and Surface (see info. at • Workshops in Tuscany & Greece: Learn to dig local clay and embed texture & color, and much more in a studio overlooking the Aegean Sea on the island of Skopelos, Greece August 27-September 9, or Certaldo, Tuscany near Florence, October 17-30, beginners to advanced. For details of workshops, tours, lodging, meals, & cultural events: www.; 503.777.6363;

• Throwing Upside Down While Sitting Right Side Up — One-day wheel-throwing demonstration workshop by Glen Trotter, August 22, 2009 10am-4pm. Fee $35. vanPrice Studio, Prescott, AZ. Contact Karen @ 928.443.9723. • Rio Rewards PMC Certification Class in Prescott, AZ — October 2, 3, & 4, 2009, 9am-5pm. Contact Rio Grande toll-free @ 866.346.2698 or visit the Rio Rewards Website at rewards.htm. [

Reach tens of thousands of CT readers with your classified ad in the magazine and on our Web site for as little as $50—a real bargain! For full details, e-mail:

“Moral support can be our most important resource.” BY KELLY SAVINO


hen my husband lost his job, the counsel we got from peers was upbeat and reassuring: “When one door closes, another door opens.” I have always worked hard making, selling, and teaching pottery, but the family’s main support was my husband’s job, managing the university’s biological field station. When it was cut, the benefits went with it: health and orthodontic, vision, prescription, and three kids’ future college tuition waivers. We try very hard to be patient and optimistic, but despite lots of knocking, endless applications, and a couple of serious interviews, eight months later that next open door is still pretty elusive. Many who gave us the advice had already lost jobs, and more would lose them in the months to follow. These are challenging times for everyone, and especially worrisome for artists. M.F.A. grads are losing heart, looking for teaching jobs while carrying student loan debt. Teachers at art centers, public schools and community colleges face budget cuts and dwindling support for programs, while early reports from the summer art shows and street fairs look pretty bleak. Many galleries in my rust belt town are closing doors.

I watch my struggling compatriots the way farmers watch the weather, to help me gauge my next move. Facebook, Clayart, and conversations at the guild are full of queries and reports: How are sales at the summer

Some days the reports are bleak. It’s easy to lose track of why our passion for clay is even relevant, in a world where big box stores provide the public needs for pennies. Most people have lost appreciation for the uniquely human experience of using our own hands to make tools and grow food, prepare meals, make clothing, and build shelter. A potter in a processed, ready-made world can feel a little lonesome. Years ago, when I worked as a public sector folklorist, I collected personal histories from elders who had vivid memories of hard times, and told stories of the Great Depression, the dust bowl, or wartime rationing. The lessons they learned have helped us make our own game plan, during the months we’ve spent knocking and applying, waiting for that “other door” to open.

Use Your Imagination The creative thinker’s ability to see options that aren’t immediately evident can give us an edge. Depression-era farmers remembered “Hoover wagons”: when fuel was unavailable, they pulled the engine blocks out of their vehicles and hitched them to a mule. Homemakers took pride in using imagination and resourcefulness to feed their families the most filling, nutritious meals possible with whatever meager ingredients were at hand. 1930s women’s magazines were full of ways to serve Spam®, cornmeal, and beans in attractive and appealing ways, to suit aesthetic needs as well as to feed bodies. Not only is necessity the mother of invention, it can create art of great beauty. Unlike today’s quilts, which begin at high-end fabric stores, the earliest quilts patched together worn-out

aprons, bits of used-up blankets, grandpa’s Civil War uniform, and baby’s flannel gown to make a useful, beautiful blanket rich with family history. For today’s artists, thinking outside the traditional paths might include finding new uses for equipment or space. It could involve proposing projects to those few organizations with money to spend. Many are rethinking marketing tools and opening Etsy stores, and mastering the intricacies of Websites, blogging, and social networking sites to promote sales and sell work. Some are finding new customers for their pots, making new lines of work, or finding ways to offer private instruction.

Consider Community When wartime rationing was a fact of life, people relied on each other to make things work. A local woman in Toledo’s old Polish neighborhood remembers that her neighbors saved up sugar ration coupons so that she could have a cake at her wedding. She invited them all to the wedding, repaying their generosity with a good polka. Sometimes our best resource is each other. Artists around the country are organizing to help each other out, lobbying for workshops, setting up cooperative galleries and studios, and considering new ways of teaching and educating about our craft. Meanwhile, we keep in touch and lend moral support to those who struggle along with us. (Recently, on a particularly discouraging day, I found in my mailbox a kiln opening postcard from a favorite artist in Virginia, signed simply, “Keep the faith.” I thumbtacked it above my wedging board.) Moral support can be our most important resource. Community beyond the group of potters, teachers, and artists is changing as well. continued on next page


I’m paying close attention to how people I know and respect are weathering the economic storm. The old standby for artists used to be to get a “day job,” and make art in the margins—but the army of unemployed in many towns means those day jobs are few and far between. I have come to realize, though, that artists have a skill uniquely suited to handling hard times: the ability to think creatively, and to apply the kind of problem solving skills that are the mainstay of studio pottery.

fairs? What is selling? Are students signing up for classes? Are new galleries an option for all that retail space standing empty? Which vendors of clay, equipment and supplies are cutting us deals, to compete with the rest and stay in business?

Opinion I Around the Firebox

Keeping the Faith


Opinion I Around the Firebox

Keeping the Faith (cont. from previous page) A move to supporting local businesses, a disenchantment with big-box chain stores and imported goods of dubious safety, the flourishing of farmer’s markets, and a tendency to sign up for activities closer to home can all be translated into positive news for artists if they adapt to new circumstances and take advantage of shifting public interest. Potters are, for the most part, friendly folks, hard workers, and creative problem solvers. If anyone can find a way, it’s the creative community.

Take Stock of Your Assets Urbanites and apartment dwellers in the Great Depression were unable raise their own chickens or plant extensive gardens, but some discovered that rooftops could support container gardens or pigeon coops. The grassy-green medians that divided city streets often provided enough grass for a hutch of meat rabbits. Sometimes it takes hard times to make us look around and see what unexploited resource might be under our feet, in our studio, or in our community.

At our house, when a promising job opportunity in Texas fell though, we had a family meeting to inventory our own resources. I don’t mean just our bank accounts: (To twist an old phrase, “There’s no money in art ... but then there’s no art in money, either.”) Like many in the creative community, we tend to find wealth in the intangibles, and are not too focused on material acquisitions. During our meeting, we looked hard at our values, our skills and goals, and what enriches our lives. We talked frankly about what we’d give up, leaving here: grandparents and great grandparents, a community of friends, scout troops, a vegetable garden with rich black Ohio soil, a funky, artful little house, a long-established potter’s guild, and a low cost of living. One kid adores his charter high school for the arts; the other two wish to continue homeschooling. We have a small yard in an old, blue-collar neighborhood, but have bloomed where we’re planted with fruit trees, bee hives, and chickens. I ride my bike to teach evening classes at the nearby botanical garden, where the potters’ guild sits


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at the center of an artisan village. My kids finish schoolwork, ride over to visit, watch the glassblowers, and count baby geese in the pond. Life is actually pretty sweet, when we stop to consider our “wealth.” So we’ve decided, for now, to stay put. We both teach part-time at small colleges, me in ceramics and Jeff in environmental science. We obtained health coverage through the Potter’s Council that would cover us in a disaster. Small windfalls pop up here and there: I sell pots, and have been asked to build a wood-fired clay oven for a summer workshop. My kids babysit, petsit, mow lawns, and earn their own spending money. Then there are eBay®, honey sales, and a veggie stand by the road. It’s kind of exciting, looking for new ways to make a dime here and there. We’re in this together, and we’ll patch together a living, somehow, while waiting for the economy to turn. While my M.A. in Folklore and M.F.A. in ceramics have not been a fast track to wealth and fame (who knew?), I have accumulated some skills on the side. Years of scrounging and repairing have made me “equipment rich,” with kilns, wheels, slab roller, and all the trappings of a working studio. On eBay, last summer, I bought bricks for a catenary arch soda kiln, and plan to build it this summer. The logical next step for me seems to be to expand my studio space so that I can accommodate some of the overflow students from the guild and the college. The economy may be in trouble, but people always seem to sign up for classes! In our case, it meant reconsidering our use of space, by connecting my studio to the cinderblock garage that houses kilns, slab roller, ancient pugmill and ware shelves. This meant making a doorway through the cinderblock wall shared by the two buildings. I am making more teaching space in the studio, and streamlining some storage problems. The remodeling has been hard work, and I am typing about it with battered hands: barked knuckles and spatters of white paint are my new look. Maybe all those reassuring friends who offered consoling platitudes were right: when one door closes, another door does open. Only sometimes, you have to imagine the door yourself, and then get out the sledgehammer and make it happen. [ Kelly Savino can be reached by e-mail at:

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Clay Times Magazine Volume 15 • Issue 82  

Considerations for Critiquing Claywork • Mark Hewitt Interview • More About Spouts • Before Designing Your Own Gas Kiln: What You Need to Kn...

Clay Times Magazine Volume 15 • Issue 82  

Considerations for Critiquing Claywork • Mark Hewitt Interview • More About Spouts • Before Designing Your Own Gas Kiln: What You Need to Kn...