I have been making pots for over 40 years. I am self-taught, leaving me to wonder on occasion whether I have a genius or an idiot for a teacher. I have learned that being a potter requires optimism and the subtle art of persuasion. Every pot and every firing teaches me to observe and appreciate the laws that dictate the behavior of the clay and the fire.
Making pottery is an exercise in letting go. Rarely does a pot come out as expected. The best you can do is combine shape, texture and color according to your muse, and then give it over to the fire. Accepting the unexpected is singularly difficult to those of us who harbor delusions of control. Firing Raku is the essence of this truth. What the fire gives you is what you get!
My formal education is Anthropological Linguistics (PhD, The American University 1988.) My dissertation, (The Prefix in Isletan Tiwa, Laylin, 1988) has to do with the way language structure determines what we can and can not say in our language, which is a product of the cultural environment in which it is spoken.
I work in my home studio, Pig Pen Pottery, on my family farm, Hidden Springs Farm, in Great Falls, Va. I make functional stoneware pieces for the kitchen and the table, stoneware lamps, fountains and masks. The stoneware is fired in a reduction gas kiln. Seasonally, I work in Raku, pit firing, saggar firing, and alcohol reduction.
My goal is to make a pot that is pleasing to the eye, to the hands and to the purpose for which it is intended. The measure of success for me is hearing that someone uses my mug specially for hot chocolate, for instance, or my bowl for ice cream. We are so accustomed to having all matching plates, bowls and cups that we risk becoming insensitive to our tableware.