Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The gigantic watermelon baby bump.
  Okay, so the last couple of weeks have completely blown by and I can tell you that they have been deeply entrenched in the new experience of baby getting ready to make its debut! New discomforts, lots of nesting, napping, and a little time to think about pottery here and there. I never thought I would slow down, but baby has made me do so, which has been a good thing.
Pitcher made while at Berea
Recently, someone challenged me to the Facebook venture of #3potsadayfor5 where
This got me thinking a lot about the influences I have had on my work and the various approaches I have taken in the last 10+ years I have been working in clay.

Mug made while at Berea
The most influential experience I have had thus far was the four years I worked as an apprentice production potter in the Ceramics Apprenticeship Program at Berea College. I know of no other program quite like the CAP and am grateful I had the opportunity to participate in it. Above are a few pots I made while at Berea.
Walter Hyleck pottery

Walter Hyleck pottery
 The head of the program for most of the time I was there was Walter Hyleck. He started the program in 1970 and for me was a great mentor and professor. I greatly appreciated his critiques, his honesty, and being able to watch his own work process in the studio.
Walter Hyleck mug

 On an Art Department field trip to Washington, D.C. Walter Hyleck took us on a trip to see the Baltimore Clayworks in Maryland where his son, Matthew Hyleck worked. I really appreciated that field trip and returned to Baltimore Clayworks to take a wood-firing course with Jim Dugan in the spring of 2010.
 I mostly worked with Philip Wiggs who was the resident potter for several of the years I was there. I only briefly had the pleasure of working with Tina Gebhart, and for the time I got to spend with her, I so appreciated the engaging conversations we had about the technical and chemical aspects of firing, making, and clay.
Jodie Hagenberger mug

Carla Brunsell mug

Katherine Smither- check out her Etsy Shop!
 Perhaps one of the best aspects of the program was working with a variety of other people from different backgrounds and with different creative eyes. Not everyone in the Ceramics Apprenticeship Program were Art majors (myself included), so it was fascinating to see how everyone approached their work. We were also able to make our own forms and try out different glaze techniques. So, when we started, we started with mugs. We made several designs, and then had critiques. I thoroughly appreciated the critiques and it really helped develop stronger forms. No one had to make a particular style of mug, and the forms we made could be uniquely ours, but still functional, marketable, and aesthetically pleasing. I tell people when they ask me how to make a better mug that they should make 50 or 100 of them because I am a full believer in being able to make more than one of an item first before you push its boundaries and explore different techniques- consistency is key.

Handled jar based on an historic design, made at Berea.

Berea College was also where I started dabbling in making historic reproductions. Walter Hyleck once told me that he would not bail me out of Federal Prison if I went on to make things that were exact reproductions and warned that I would have to find a way to make the pieces slightly different or well-marked if I ever pursued it seriously. You may chuckle, but it is a Federal offense and there have been people jailed for it! Some day I would like to get back to doing some reproductions.

Now, back to nesting and napping. 


Vicki G from Iowa said...

Neat page, you look great by the way, enjoy that new little one. Also enjoy the sleep now, you'll soon know what I mean

Dennis Allen said...

Nice to see a bit more of your history.Hope you have smooth sailing with the pending arrival.

Carolyn_Svellinger said...

Ah I love this! It's always fascinating to see an artist's inspiration and even more so to see their early works. And gooooooo baby!

Lori Buff said...

That sounds like a great program. I'll bet it's help a lot of potters start careers.