|Brenda stoking her wood firing kiln. Photo by Oliver Mueller-Heubach.|
I have been making pottery for nearly ten years, which includes time spent in the Ceramics Apprenticeship Program at Berea College in Kentucky, and my pottery business began in 2010. I am also a graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. In the summer of 2012, I became a co-owner of a farm where I had the chance to put down some clay roots, and with a Regional Artists Project Grant, built a 60-cubic foot wood-firing kiln. For my work, I use the method of single firing which has given me the chance to experiment with glazes made from local clay, ash glazes, and natural clay glazes. My pottery is made with North Carolina stoneware clay and is salt glazed. The clay is mined and processed by Starworks Ceramics.
I focus on utilitarian pottery forms and enjoy the supple and subtle surfaces created by salt in a wood-firing atmosphere. The farm inspires me to make compost crocks, pickling crocks, and fermenting jars as an extension of my interest in lactic fermentation, pickling, traditional cooking, and living a sustainable lifestyle. The charcoal from the wood kiln has provided the opportunity to incorporate it into the soil as biochar, which helps retain water and provide nutrients to the soil.
My passions for pottery and history meld on the pottery wheel. My work is heavily influenced by studies of historic ceramics, kilns, and archaeology. I enjoy the aesthetic of historic American pottery, the graceful lines, strong forms, and the fluid cobalt blue decorations on salt-glazed stoneware. Some of my favorite pieces of historic pottery are basic, utilitarian pots for the beauty of their function and plain artistry. My work includes painting cobalt blue decorations based primarily on designs from the Southern United States to highlight Southern potters’ skills and share about design migration and regional variation.