Featured Artist: Becky Gray

The big weekend is just about here…have you made your plans yet?

This weekend is the Spruce Pine Potter’s Market, and here is one of our sculptors to tempt you towards the mountains this weekend.

Gaurdian Figures by Becky Gray

Becky Gray’s works are hand built; she uses thrown forms, extrusions, coils and slabs combined in different ways to create pieces that are sculptural and often ceremonial in nature. Her works are raku-fired with light reduction, generally sprayed with water and then put into hardwood sawdust to cool. The result is an aged, often stone-like or metallic appearance.

This image is one from her “Guardian Series”.  You can see her work in person this weekend, and find out more about her here and here.

Featured Artist: Shawn Ireland

Shawn Ireland

With only 11 days left until this year’s Spruce Pine Potter’s Market, you would expect all potters in the area to be busy making and firing and sanding and pricing. Shawn Ireland has been as busy as any of them this year. In addition to the Potter’s Market he’s getting ready for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show , and he has a solo exhibition at Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville through the end of October.

Be sure to look for him in Spruce Pine this year, October 8th and 9th, 2011.

Pam Brewer: Featured Artist

If you like pottery, you won’t be disappointed by the Spruce Pine Potters Market.

Make your plans for the weekend of October 8th and 9th, 2011.

Sculptor Pam Brewer in the Studio

These days most potters are busy working away in the studio, and most are rarely seen in public  places unless there is a potluck meal happening…some of the 30 potters of the Spruce Pine Potters Market have been seen  firing and  unloading their wares all ready.

Of course, we have a few sculptors too.  Pam Brewer returns to the Market this year, bringing her handbuilt ceramic work inspired by the natural world and the human experience.  Pam uses earthenware clay and time honored traditions to achieve a soft patina on the surface of her sculptures.

Read more at her website, or come by and visit at the Spruce Pine Potter’s Market.


Coming This Fall

Nick Joerling

The hottest heat of summer seems to be behind us, and the feeling of fall is starting to drift into the evenings here in the mountains.  That means the Spruce Pine Potters Market must be right around the corner!

Just in case you hadn’t heard, here is the press release for this year’s event.   Bring a friend, we’ll see you there…

5th Annual Spruce Pine Potters Market

Spruce Pine, North Carolina – October 8 & 9, 2011 Invitational show featuring thirty of the region’s best potters and clay artists holds annual sale in the historic Cross Street Building downtown.

This year’s artists include Claudia Dunaway, Daniel Johnston, Shaunna Lyons, William Baker, and Gay Smith, among many others. Based in Mitchell and Yancey Counties, these artists organize themselves for the annual event, which boasts several thousand visitors a year.

“Spruce Pine Potters Market gives the visitor the opportunity to get up close and personal with clay artists ranging from their twenties to their eighties,” says Jon Ellenbogen of Barking Spider Pottery, whose work will also be featured in the show. “It’s a community, family operation. Through their work, these artists bring the privacy of their studios to a group setting and invite the world in for a visit.”

Switzerland Café will provide muffins, coffee, and lunch options. Admission is free, with artists selling their work from 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday. Tourists and county residents alike will enjoy this opportunity to experience the diversity of the region’s talent and personalities. Work includes functional pottery, porcelain, figurative sculpture, stoneware, earthenware, and more. SPPM is an affiliate organization of Toe River Arts Council.

For directions and a full list of artists, visit: www.sprucepinepottersmarket.com or call 828-765-0520.

Platter by Barking Spider Pottery

Participating Artists for 2011

Join us again this fall, for the annual Spruce Pine Potters Market.  Listed below are the artists who will be participating this year.  You’ll recognize many of the names and see a few new ones too.  Each name links to the website of that artist so you can learn a little more about each one.

Tile by Tzadi Turrou

Stan AndersenWilliam BakerBandana Pottery, Barking Spider PotteryPam BrewerCynthia BringleClaudia DunawayRoss EdwardsSusan FeaginFork Mountain PotteryLisa GluckinBecky GrayShawn IrelandNick and Lisa JoerlingDaniel JohnstonMichael KlineShaunna LyonsCourtney MartinLinda McFarlingShane MickeyJane PeiserSedberry PotteryMichael RutkowskyJennyLou SherburneRon SlagleGay SmithLiz SummerfieldJoy Tanner, and Tzadi Turrou

Wood fired Jug by Michael Kline

William Baker : Featured Artist

As the big weekend approaches, here is one more featured artist for you…William Baker answered a few of the questions we sent around.

[How long have you  lived here? What brought you here? Where did you grow up?]

I first moved to Asheville, NC in 2002 from Washington state.  I moved to accept a position as Resident Artist at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts, which was my first real immersion into the clay world.  I was fortunate and somewhat surprised to realize I had accidentally landed right in the heart of such an amazing region for craft.  When my time at the Odysssey Center was over in 2005 I moved further up into the mountains, following the smell of wood fired kilns.  After moving my studio several times since then, I am now working at the EnergyXchange and firing the wood/soda kiln there.

[What type of work do you make?  Have you always made this type of work? What is your favorite part of the process? Why?  What are three words that describe your work?]

I make mostly functional pottery, and I work almost exclusively on the wheel.  It was the process of throwing on the wheel that got me hooked on clay, although I also soon developed a serious kiln firing habit.  For me the firing process is at least as important as the forming process, and just as much fun too.  I have worked with salt and soda and atmospheric kilns since I was first introduced to them.  I was exploring different alternative firing methods early on, but I really loved the opportunity to combine atmospheric firing with functional work, and especially to be an integral part of the firing.  After several years of working with gas fired salt and soda kilns, I built my first wood fired soda kiln in 2007.

[Why do you make the work you do? Who do you make it for?
If you think a pot of you’ve made is awful, and someone whose opinion you respect believes it to be wonderful, how do you resolve the difference?]

I try to make the work that pleases me first, although there is always the tricky balance that any artist or craftsman must negotiate.  I have come to realize that I am the toughest critic I know, especially when looking at my own work.  If someone else likes a piece of mine that I hate, I would try to see what they appreciated in it and learn from that but I would not be statisfied until I could look at the piece and feel it was successful to my eye.

[Can you think of a particular personality trait you have that helps or helped you in becoming a potter/artist?]

I think being stubborn and persistent are helpful, not to mention a willingness to work very hard and not be easily satisfied.

[Do you play a musical instrument or sport?]

Growing up I played baseball for 12 years or so, and messed around with a few musical instruments too.  I  never really made a connection there until a conversation among crafts people revealed that almost everyone around the talble had played either an instrument or a sport.  It made me realize the importance of developing skills and appreciating one’s dedication to mastering a craft.

Jane Peiser : Featured Artist

Today’s featured artist is our esteemed potter, Jane Peiser.

Jane Peiser came to Penland in the late sixties after teaching art history at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jane was also a painter at that time, but…

After two college degrees and eight years of teaching, I saw a used  electric kiln advertised in the newspaper. By the time the day was over I  had bought the kiln along with a bag of clay and several bottles of  glaze. With one stroke my life changed forever and I have been eternally  grateful for having found work that I love.

After making and painting pots and tile in Chicago, Jane moved to Penland to be with her husband Mark Peiser in 1969. They were resident artists at the Penland School when Jane began to use the Italian murrine glass technique in her ceramics.

For some forty years, Jane has been working, just a stone’s throw away from the Barns Resident Artist Studios at Penland. Jane is known internationally for her innovative  salt glazed sculptural objects and has taught her technique in workshops at all of the leading schools and has, of course, taught at Penland numerous times. Jane is a founding member of Ariel artist collective and gallery, in Asheville, NC,  the Penland Potters Guild, and is a member of the Southern Highland Crafts Guild.

Come to the show this weekend and see the work from one of our most esteemed national craft treasures, Jane Peiser.

I love it when people sing together, laugh together, show me the  pictures in their wallets… I feel a yearning for the wonderful side of  human nature that I cannot explain, but when it appears in an  occasional piece that I have made, it’s a good, good, day in the studio.   – Jane Peiser

Lisa Gluckin : Featured Artist

Each year the Spruce Pine Potters Market invites one artist to participate who has not been in the show before, perhaps someone newer to the area or to clay.  This artist receives the honorary title of “Emerging Artist” and this year that person is Lisa Gluckin.  Lisa creates beautifully layered, handbuilt pieces using earthernware clay and colored terra sigilatta for her palette.  She wrote to tell us a little about herself:

Born and raised in Peoria, IL., my “adult years” in Illinois included studies at the University of Illinois in C-U and work in both the theatre and in radio. In my late twenties I journeyed toward my NYC roots and spent 21 years there juggling survival, performance art, visual art, antique dealing, writing, producing & performing in the theatre. It was there that I began studying clay at Greenwich House Pottery in the late 90’s. I studied with some terrific ceramic artists including Peter GourfainMelissa SternAnna SiokJustin Novak and Kate Missett.

I rusticated to the mountains of NC just five years ago to explore the fruits of focussing — my chosen immersion — CLAY. I have studied with remarkable artists at The Penland School of Crafts and in their private studios — Lisa Clague, Tom Spleth, Cristina Cordova, Holly Walker and Paul Wandless. I work at the Penland School of Crafts in Development and I teach “mixed media clay with a focus on recycling” in the elementary schools through The Toe River Arts Council Artist-in-Residency Program. I also teach regularly at Penland Kid’s Camp.

Currently I am in my second year of residency at The EnergyXchange in Burnsville, NC. My work is available at Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, NC., The Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine, NC and Burnsville, NC., The Collectors Gallery in Raleigh-Durham, NC. and at The EnergyXchange in Burnsville, NC. This year my work was chosen by The National Endowment of the Arts to honor the recipient of The Green Prize in Public Education. I am thrilled to have been chosen as the “emerging artist” for this year’s Spruce Pine Potters Market.

Joy Tanner : Featured Artist

Joy Tanner Soda Fired Tumblers

Our featured artist for today is Joy Tanner, who is currently waiting for the kiln to cool so she can unload the fresh pottery.  She wrote in to tell us a bit about herself:

[How long have you lived here? What brought you here? Where did you grow up?]

I have lived in Bakersville for 4 years. I came to the area by way of Asheville, NC where I was a Resident Artist at the Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts. Learning about the artist community surrounding Penland as well as the beautiful surroundings mountains were strong factors in pulling me out into the country to create my studio and begin working.  I grew up in southeastern Tennessee and went to college for my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.

[What type of work do you make?  Have you always made this type of work? What is your favorite part of the process? Why?  What are three words that describe your work?]

I create wood and soda fired functional and decorative pottery. I use stoneware and porcelain clays to create wheel thrown and altered forms. I began working in clay in college and immediately was drawn to the wheel. I was also immediately attracted to atmospheric firing, as the clay studio in the art department had a gas soda kiln. I jumped right into that kind of firing with an intention of incorporating textural elements into my work. Since that time I have continued with this type of work, exploring salt, soda and wood firings more in depth.

I love the making process the most of all. The thinking that goes along with it; especially when I am fully focused in the making and get so full of ideas that I can’t seem to make things fast enough! I love the texturing stage, when the pot is still workable and able to sustain any change I deem necessary. Attaching parts to pots and adding little details; this is what excites me in the process. Then there is the wood  and soda firing. I am very intrigued with how the soda reacts with clay, so a lot of thought goes into the loading and firing of the kiln to achieve the best results. I get completely involved with the firing and enjoy that whole process.

Three words that describe my work: texture, variation, contrast

This year has brought about great changes for me. After living and working at my studio in my home for the past 3.5 years, I am now a resident artist at the Energy XChange in Burnsville, NC, where I share a studio space with my partner, Will Baker, who is also a potter in this years’ Potters Market. I’m excited for this change at this point in my life and look forward to seeing what changes it brings to my work.  We together are using the new wood kiln that was built there that burns pallet that come in at the landill.

[Do you collect something other than pottery?  Is there a particular object or designer that you find intriguing?]

I love to collect seed pods, rocks and other earth materials. When I’m not potting, I love to explore the outdoors with my camera in hand. Photography helps me see details in a way I might not notice them otherwise, and in turn, these observations and subtleties get immersed into my pots as well.

[Have you traveled recently and found inspiration?]

I just took a trip up to Maine for an artist residency at Watershed for the Ceramic Arts. It was a great experience to have the time away from regular studio practice to be in a communal environment sharing ideas and working on new things. I used the time to explore pouring vessels, particularly small ewers and oil pots. It was great to spend concentrated time on these pots, challenging myself to try new things with each one that I made.

After the residency I went camping and hiking in Acadia National Park. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the mountains meet the sea. It was amazing how some of the hikes and deep woods reminded me of western North Carolina mountains, except the only difference is seeing the ocean in the view as well! After this trip I went up to hike the last five miles of the Appalachian Trail to its terminus on Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. The outside world greatly influences my life, and in turn, my work. I feel so refreshed when I have been able to immerse myself in the outdoors.

[What is the best advice you have received about your own artwork?  What advice would you give out to others?]

Keep on keepin’ on.

Joy Tanner Carved Plates

[Why do you make the work you do? Who do you make it for?]

I create my pots because I feel it is a direct representation of my personality and my observations. The small details in life are what are important. It feels so personal to me to record the inspirations that I gather from nature. I make my pots to help others discover these subtle details, and what better time than during their morning coffee or for eating dinner? It is my hope that by bringing these details into closer view, each pot I have created will possess the energy and insights I gather from my surroundings.

[If you think a pot of you’ve made is awful, and someone whose opinion you respect believes it to be wonderful, how do you resolve the difference?]

I value others opinions greatly and always love to hear the other side. I never know what it is that they are seeing in my work that I can’t see because I made it and I’m attached to it. I think it is good to hear those differences and then let them percolate inside for a while, listening to them and see what those ideas have to offer me.

[Can you think of a particular personality trait you have that helps or helped you in becoming a potter/artist?]

I think my patience helps me as a potter. Through dedicated practice and focus I feel that my work has been able to grow. I recognized early on that this type of work takes an extreme amount of patience and determination to keep going, and I feel fortunate that I have that. I also am an extremely organized person, which can be a very helpful tool, whether it is in organizing a studio, planning a kiln load, preparing for a show, office work, as well as time management.

[Do you play a musical instrument or sport?]

Growing up I took piano lessons for around 10 years and began playing the flute and piccolo, as well. In middle school and high school I was active in the concert band, and, yes , I was in the marching band, too! I loved practicing and playing music and although I do not continue to play today, I am often reminded of how much the discipline of this practice is similar to the practices of a studio potter. Because my time was spent in music, I never had any art classes until college when I stumbled into a photography class and later, a ceramics class.  This was when I changed gears and knew I found what I wanted to focus on. I do still, however, long to play the piano and hope that one day I will pick it back up for fun.

Joy Tanner unloading wood kiln

You can learn more about my work and even shop online at these links below:

Web: http://www.joytannerpottery.com

Blog: http://www.joytannerpottery.blogspot.com

Shop Online: http://www.joytanner.etsy.com