When I was six years old, I watched a potter make a bowl on his kickwheel, and I was lost to the magic of clay. I got my first chance to work on the wheel at Wells College, and continued taking clay classes at the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Arrowmont, and Penland.
For many years, my husband Dan and I lived in Clemson, SC but spent weekends in Avery County, NC in a cabin that Dan’s parents built. In 2001, we bought an old house in Pineola, NC, renovated it into a studio, and built our gas-fired soda kiln. In 2008, I retired after 25 years as a psychology professor at Clemson University, Dan retired as the director of the Oconee County Mental Health Center, and we moved to Avery County full-time. Living in the rugged climate and terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains has transformed my work in clay. Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River, and the woods behind my studio offer continually changing studies in color, light, and texture. The surfaces of my pots reference these variations: the movement of wind and water over rock and vegetation, the luminosity of ice and water.
I love surfaces transformed by nature and time: worn stone carvings at Angkor Wat, mottled copper greens of ancient Chinese bronzes. I want to create visual and tactile surfaces that invite touch, reflect the malleability of clay, and reference the variation in color and sheen found naturally in mountains, rivers, and forests. I throw each pot on a kickwheel, and then facet and carve the piece to create texture. Using a color palette inspired by Avery County’s rock, river, woods, and seasons, I pour, spritz, spray, and brush slips and glazes to form layers of surface and variation in color, so that every pot is unique yet related. I weave handles from plant materials to further echo the natural environment.
The art of pottery is ancient elemental simplicity: earth, water, air, and fire. Yet clay offers endless invitations to experiment with form and surface and firing processes. After nearly 40 years of working with clay, I feel like I’m still just beginning to explore some of its possibilities, and I can’t wait to get to my studio every morning. Glazing and firing clay blends art, science, and magic. Opening my kiln is the closest I get to being a six year old on Christmas morning.