Spring News

Hello there!  Hope a marvelous spring is on its way to you, wherever you are. 
Here are a couple of notes about what I've got cooking:

My next batch of classes at the Art League School in Alexandria begins on April 4th. If you're in the area, start your week off right making pots with me!


I'm excited about reintroducing some daubs of color onto my pots, which is something I haven't played with since my time in Michigan in John Glick's studio. Color! Spring! Life is good. I have a couple of them up in my shop!

Other confirmed events this spring:
April 7th - May 1st: American Pottery Festival Preview, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN (I'll be in the cities this coming fall for APF, Sept. 9th-11th)
April 30th: BUZZ: A Maker's Market, Baltimore, MD
May 6th & 7th: The Handmade Market, Raleigh, NC

May 14th: Gateway Open Studio Tour, Red Dirt Studio, Mt. Rainier, MD

I've been busy teaching throwing at George Washington University and the Art League School, as well as working in the studio and spending as much time as possible doting on Archer. 

As always, thanks for your interest and support!

"Anatomy of a Pitcher"


This fall I had the chance to write a little about my process and inspiration for Ceramics Monthly. My writings along with several other ceramic artists were included in their December issue. You can read my contribution here:

Anatomy of a Pitcher Full Text

Originally published in December 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly, pages 36-39. http://www.ceramicsmonthly.org . Copyright, The American Ceramic Society. Reprinted with permission.

Coming Up!

THIS WEEK: AKAR Gallery's Annual Yunomi Show opens at 10:00am CST! I'll have five sweeties on display. Proceeds from select pots will be donated to Studio Potter, a wonderful non-profit magazine written for and by ceramic artists.  

I'll have two pitchers in Pour: Function + Form from June 5th - August 15th at Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Missouri. 

I'll also be assisting Kip O'Krongly as she teaches a workshop at Penland School of Crafts this summer in North Carolina. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks at Penland last summer and am so looking forward to returning. 

Another summer aspiration of mine is getting my online store into gear -- having consistent stock is harder than it looks! In the meantime, if you have any special requests, I'm about to start a new batch of pots, and I'm all ears. 

Spring News

While some places are warming up, it seems others have some fresh (and final?) snow to contend with. I hope spring finds you soon wherever you are. It's shaping up to be a very full season out here:

I joined a group of fifteen artists at Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD at the beginning of 2015 and boy, are they great. We've spent the last month preparing to move into a new, permanent space (a renovated firehouse!) with the final push to get all moved in this week. I'm thrilled to have found a space I can dedicate to making my work, and it also happens composed of a stellar group of humans, which sure doesn't hurt. We'll have a couple of events coming up this season, so keep your eyes peeled.

This week 5,000 ceramic artists will be descending on Providence, Rhode Island, and I will be among their number. I'm very happy to be included in the Apprenticelines Exhibition at the Pawtucket Armory as one of John Glick's disciples. Stop by for the reception on Friday, or if you can't make it then, I'll also be covering the exhibit from 3-5pm on Thursday if you'd like to swing by to say hello.


On April 11th, I'll be setting up shop in Virginia for a day at the Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring Bada-Bing, at the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and on May 9th &10th, I'll be participating in the 12th annual Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia at Penn's Landing Great Plaza. If you're nearby either Richmond or Philadelphia, I'd love to see some friendly faces! 


Small Favors X at the Clay Studio of Philadelphia, April 3rd-26th
Mug Shots at LUX Center for the Arts, Lincoln, NE, April 3rd-May30th
AKAR Yunomi Show, Iowa City, IA, May 15th-June 5th

Each of these three exhibits will have an online component for admirers from afar.


And all that doesn't include the trip Jon and I just took to Iceland, London, and Paris. We drooled over the V&A's collections, oohed and aahhed at Stonehenge and the Roman ruins in Bath, and one of my favorite moments was finding this Greek bowl at the Louvre from the 1500s that had doodles. I love that I've been imitating this in my work without even knowing about it; makes centuries past seem a little closer to us. 

In the meantime, if you need a cup, bowl, set of dinnerware for a registry or something special, let's chat! I'd love to talk to you about your projects. 

The Japanese Pottery Handbook Signing at District Clay

Last Friday night, District Clay hosted a lecture and book-signing for British potter and author Penny Simpson for the 35th anniversary re-release of her book, The Japanese Pottery Handbook. Introduced by Curator of Ceramics at the Freer Sackler Gallery and a long-time friend Louise Cort, Simpson gave an overview of her time in Japan in the late 70’s and how The Japanese Pottery Handbook came to be.

While she originally traveled to Japan to teach English, Simpson soon took up pottery classes at the Shimpo Tobei Center School and found much of the ceramic vocabulary out of reach of her Japanese-English dictionary. Simpson shared her idea to create a Japanese-English pottery handbook with one of the Shimpo instructors, Kanji Sodeoka, and Lucy Kitto, another foreign student and illustrator, resulting in one-hundred copies of a hand-lettered book which proved very popular with the other students. Armed with a great amount of feedback and with the help of publisher Kodansha, they painstakingly revised and expanded the finished The Japanese Pottery Handbook in 1979.

After being out of print for many years, Simpson noticed that the secondary market for her book was still notably active, and with her grown daughter, a designer, and Kitta, she digitized and updated the book for reprinting. She made special note during her talk of how much the digital age improved the process of sharing drafts and communicating with colleagues from afar.

Simpson shared slides of the traditional potteries and pots she has noticed in her travels to Japan, and lovingly described the attention paid to the relationship between cuisine and ceramics, noting how the use of chopsticks lessen the need for glossy surfaces while eating, how chefs prepare food specifically for certain sizes of dishes, and how esteemed handmade objects continue to be today.

Simpson also played a few short videos depicting different Japanese potters at work, throwing bowls, teapots, and decorating works-in-progress. She briefly contrasted Japanese and English apprenticeship models, noting the considerably longer time commitment necessary in Japan.

With this book’s re-release, Simpson and her compatriots continue to facilitate the decades of interchange between English and Japanese ceramics in the tradition of Hamada, Leach, and countless others.

The Doer of Deeds

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 

--Teddy Roosevelt

November News

IMG_5779 - Version 2.jpg

This is just a quick note to let you know my online shop is newly opened and full of pots from my time in Michigan as well as a couple of new pieces all shipping for a flat rate of $5. 

Keep your eyes peeled, too, because I'll be adding much more new work soon. I've been having lots of fun thinking about new color palettes, surface treatments, and ideas since switching to a white-ish clay, and I hope you like them!

There's news to share on the show-front, too. You can see some of my pieces in these three upcoming shows:

• November 20th - Seventh Annual Cup Show: Form and Function, Gulf Coast State College, in Panama City, FL, juried by Chandra DeBuse

• December 6th - Crafting the Cocktail, an exhibition by the Craft in America Center and the Museum of the American Cocktail, in Los Angeles, CA

• January 7th - Drink This!: The Workhouse International Ceramic Cup Show, Workhouse Arts Center, in Lorton, VA, juried by Phil Rogers

The Distinction Between Career and Creativity

"...let me make a distinction between career and creativity. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, "I like this. Do it again. You are good at it. Keep going." That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. It is a really warm older Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug. If you are even a little bit nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food. 

"Career is different. Career is the stringing together of opportunities and jobs. Mix in public opinion and past regrets. Add a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren't. Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later."   

Amy Poehler, from Yes Please

solving the problem within the container

"...to me there’s no creativity without boundaries.  If you’re gonna write a sonnet it’s 14 lines, so it’s solving the problem within the container and I think for me commercial television and those boundaries I like it.  I like that you can’t use certain language.  I like that you have to be bright enough to figure out how to get your ideas across in that amount of time with intelligence being the thing that you hope is showing, not officially but you want it to be, oh, that was kind of bright."

--Lorne Michaels from an interview on Alec Baldwin's Here's the Thing


"To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein


mighty fine pots


These newly-arrived John Vigeland café cups are the only married cups to live in our cupboard! Pretty fitting since we received them as wedding gifts, and they've been put to immediate use. 

I've been thinking a lot about these North Carolina salt-fired pots in the past few weeks. To start off way way back, John and I went to college together and started getting elbow-deep in clay around the same time. After leaving Carleton, John became an apprentice to Daniel Johnston at his Seagrove, North Carolina studio, and in the fall of last year he joined Alex Matisse at East Fork Pottery in Marshall, North Carolina.  I had the privilege of meeting both of these fine gentlemen at the Arrowmont Utilitarian Clay Symposium in 2012, and this year Daniel was chosen as the McAndless Scholar at Eastern Michigan University for the winter semester. Ypsilanti (EMU's home) is literally the next town over from Ann Arbor, so I was lucky to meet a couple of times with Daniel and his lovely wife Kate Johnston, an Alfred grad who is a very talented ceramic artist in her own right. 

The lectures and show I attended this past week by Daniel and Henry Glassie have my wheels spinning about the field and what the next stage of making will look like for my individual practice. First of all, seeing all these atmospherically fired pots makes me go weak at the knees-- you can see a little of what I'm talking about on the bottom of the cups pictured above, with their brown, glossy, orange-peel texture (which is caused by adding salt to a very hot kiln, wherein it fumes and fuses to the clay as glaze). Can't get enough of it! This in particular makes me wonder where Jon and I will ultimately settle, where we can both get what we need from the community. For instance, I probably couldn't have a kiln that fumes smoke containing hydrochloric acid in Berkeley. It also might be nice to have some proximity to our sets of parents, who are already separated by 1,500 miles. There are strong clay communities in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Montana, but those places seem to distinctly lack technology companies like the one Jon works for...I'm sure we'll figure it out, but I hope that the choice isn't too difficult. 

I've also been thinking a lot about our mentors, the shadows they cast, and the differences between the experiences that John (V) and I found for ourselves after college. While he went out into the world to get extremely specific and practical experience making work to be sold and learning to build and fire huge kilns, I studied another year in Colorado, and then spent a year working full-time at a ceramic supply company, learning a great deal about that business and its tenuous position in the modern world.  When I got to the point where I needed to make again, I was lucky enough to have the chance to work with John Glick. The situation in his studio is that we do chores and studio tasks together, but he makes his work and I make mine, which in ways very different from John Vigeland's experience is both freeing and still manages to have serious caveats, some inherent, and some self-imposed. (Have you noticed how many Jo(h)ns I deal with on a daily basis?!)

In any mentorship situation, it can be tricky to realize how much you know you don't know, while at the same time forming and cultivating professional beliefs that will define your work. That, combined with the absurd idea you should somehow be closing in on mastery despite being 20, 30, or a full 50 years behind your mentor, makes for a deep, complex bond with a person and their work. I also strongly value investing in community, and think that people like John Glick, Daniel Johnston, and his teacher Mark Hewitt, by creating opportunities for young people to start finding their voice, are a boon to the continuation of a ceramics community divorced from academia. 

I'm also at John Glick's at a very pivotal moment. When I started in 2012, he was still in the studio making work full-time, but life transitions are imminent and he's in semi-retirement now, devoting his energies to a retrospective exhibition and moving with his wife Susie out to California so she can be near her children and grandchildren. For the past eight months I've been watching John unpack the emotions that come with breaking a fifty-year habit, and how you find meaning and productivity when you need to move on from your work. I realize this is a gift, and it may very well give me a complex to simplify my needs as much as possible because I'll constantly be thinking about packing it all up at the end. Time will tell. 

In any case, I am thrilled to be attending a workshop with Kathy King at Penland this summer, and intend to take my sweet time in getting back to Michigan so I can visit lots of friendly potters in the area and talk even more about studio and community. 

I guess I'm seeing some common threads between how these cups spent time in a very specific firing where they were "finished" together, and how that relates to marriage, being tied together with my soon-to-be husband Jon in life-journey stuff and, professionally, with my mentor John Glick. It seems like in all cases, you get out of it what you put into it. 

What kinds of mentorship have you had in your life, and how have you thought about reconciling another person's beliefs and practices with your own? 


"...I'm very sensitive and, you know, my parents used to say, John, you're oversensitive. And, you know, you know what I can say to them now or what I said back then, I am just the right amount of sensitivity I need to be me. And if you don't like it, take a walk."

- Composer John Zorn, from this great interview on Fresh Air

Blessed unrest

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. 

It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly of the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

                                                                    --Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Killer Taste

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 
― Ira Glass

A List

The Not-So-Great
• Today I was rejected from the third consecutive show I've applied to this year, despite feeling like my work is leaps and bounds from years past (which was ironically when I didn't seem to have nearly as much trouble getting in)
• I'm working Saturday

The Pretty-Darned-Good
• There are tons more shows and opportunities to apply for
• I'm going to see the Book of Mormon tonight
• My boyfriend got me a Shamrock Shake
• I get to spend most of the rest of the week in the studio

Shutter down.

A few weeks ago I made my second big professional investment: a Canon EOS Rebel T2i. And holy crap, it's a powerful machine. I really had no idea. My family wasn't ever big on photography- sure, there are lots of snapshots of me and my sister when we were kids and a few scenic photos here and there, but we never had anything much more advanced than a point-and-shoot, and that was if we weren't using disposable cameras, so I by no means consider myself an expert. I've had a handy Canon Powershot since the middle of 2008 which has been wonderful, but the time had come to upgrade.

My main use for a DSLR is for producing images of my pots, so for the most part it's like a male dance partner in that it's there to make my work (aka the lady dancer) look good. So that's all fine and dandy, but as I said before, HOLY CRAP this thing is powerful, and it would be a shame not to learn more about it and try to use it in other capacities.

One of the biggest reservations I have about cameras is that I often feel that if a person is preoccupied with taking pictures it removes her from a "more real" experience of any given situation. I think that's the main reason the Walthers aren't snapping up a storm (with the exception of my mother who has been recently been enjoying sharing photos from her iPhone). It's also terrifying to me to carry around such an expensive piece of equipment. 

The other side of that coin though, is that there are so many beautiful or hilarious or just perfect moments that trying to capture them is like running after a butterfly with a huge hole in your net. I honestly don't know whether it's better to try and capture a fraction of them or just let them wash over you and hope the impression keeps them alive in your mind.

Some practice shots from around town: