Nestled in the hills of Southwest Virginia is my basement pottery studio. The surrounding scenery of the southern Appalachian mountains along with trips out west to the Rocky Mountain range has given me plenty of inspiration for my latest glazing adventure of handmade stoneware tiles and spoon crocks.
The infinitely changing display of colors in this wonderful local scenery where I live has led me to explore the different "voices" of each glaze that I use on my work, ranging from a very thin application to a very thick one. Some glazes are more expressive than others and with different layering techniques I find the results almost endless. The range of colors and effects from these varying applications and techniques gives my work a more dynamic sense of depth and interest than would a surface of one uniform color.
The glaze application process is more labor intensive than regular ways of glazing, but the end results are quite exciting when they work. The final goal is always to have the glaze or glazes harmonize with the form they are on to create a successful unique work of art!
The thrill of discovery keeps my work fresh and constantly evolving, just like the scene out my dining room window. It's all play to me!
My pottery career seriously started when my son was born and I instantly became a stay-at-home Dad. At least, that's what I THOUGHT would happen. HA! Starting off, I didn't get ANYTHING pottery related done, or much else, for that matter. It turned out to be, and still is, a much more gradual transition. Raising my son is the hardest thing, and actually the most rewarding thing, I've ever done, and I wouldn't trade it for the world!
The Story of the Landscape Tiles
In September, 2009 I had the privilege of participating in a two person show at Mary Baldwin College's Hunt Gallery with Nancy Ross, the head of the Ceramics department at the College.
It was early spring and we had gotten together to come up with a name for our show. At the time I was low on inventory and had a number of craft shows coming up in the spring, summer, and fall, so I thought I would just put in some of my regular work in the show. The show title I came up with was "Recent Works" ( how original! ). Nancy had been trying some new things with her work and wanted the title to be "Working Out of Our Comfort Zones". Well, after some discussion, her title won.
I had the idea of making these tiles for a couple of years, but had never got around to it. So I thought that now was as good a time as any to try and I decided to do it. Except I hadn't thought about the logistics of the project, or even knew if it would work at all. I had never really seriously made tiles before, so that was a challenge in itself. I also had to figure out how to prop up and balance my tiles in the kiln so when they were being fired they wouldn't fall over and short out my kiln elements, which would have put me out of business for a while. I was figuring out all of this while keeping up my production schedule for upcoming craft shows. Talk about working out of my comfort zone!
By the beginning of July I was still working out kinks in the process and didn't really have any "Gallery" pieces completed, and I had to fill half a room in two months! Yes, I was way out of my comfort zone! But after many long nights and a lot of prayer, I completed enough work to fill my half of the space, and it turned out to be a really great show!
The experience opened up a whole new creative world for me. I still have many new glazes to experiment with and new scenes to try. So a big "Thank You" to Nancy for coming up with our show title!