Clay is a magical material – a combination of earth and water and lots of possibilities. I make some pots on the potter’s wheel and create others by hand. Throwing pots on the potter’s wheel is intriguing because the process requires me to play with balance – being in control and pushing limits, having a plan and being spontaneous. Alternatively, I find hand-building a wonderfully straightforward and basic activity as my hands shape the clay to a desired form.
I’m a proponent of lifelong learning, and working in clay certainly provides opportunities for me to learn what to do, and what not to do! A wheel throwing class I took in high school eons ago got me hooked, but then school, more school, work, family and other responsibilities left little time for pottery. In the last few years I’ve found it essential to carve out more time for clay and welcomed opportunities to learn more about the art and science of making pottery. The Madison Potters’ Guild keeps me learning by doing, and from conversations with more experienced potters.
I create most of my wheel-thrown and hand-built pots in my home “studio” – a fancy word for a corner of the basement and some space in the garage. After each pot is made it dries to leather hard, and then I trim it. Once the pots are bone dry I fire them in an electric kiln (bisque firing) and after that I take them to the Madison Potters’ Guild facility in Middleton where I glaze them and load them in a high fire gas kiln. This firing takes 8 – 10 hours and the kiln reaches about 2350 degrees. After cooling for two days we open the kiln door and see the results!
My pottery is designed to be functional and fun. The pots are food-safe and with care can be used in a conventional oven, microwave, and dishwasher.
Narra Smith Cox