The clay work
of my first 20 years had been almost exclusively functional pottery.
I have been using the function of forms for every day use as a medium
for my creative expression. My latest work represents an effort to
reach beyond the basics of strictly functional pottery. My fascination
with surrealism, and the limitlessness of the imagination to conceive
of that which does not exist encourages me to create new forms that
give life to the basic function of traditional pottery. To further
inspire my creative process I look to the beauty of design elements
that the earth has to offer.
I am drawn
to the natural earth qualities of clay: the smell, the look, the feel
of its granular
surface as it's stretched by the pressure of my fingertips. My fascination
with texture and the pliable nature of clay leads me to examine not
just the outside, or on the skin, but inside, below the surface. I
challenge myself by finding new ways to better express and use these
elements in my work. I find the historical uses of clay, wood, metal,
and stone valuable resources, but nothing speaks to me more clearly
than the material itself and how it responds to manipulation.
process has become as elemental in my work as the forms and textures
The controlled chaos of the woodfiring process enhances the surfaces
of my pottery in a way that I cannot do in the glazing process alone.
Imagining how flame and ash will leave their mark on my work, caressing
the textures as they wrap around the forms, affects the way I think
of my work in the studio.
I have been addicted to clay ever since that first whiff of the intoxicating
aroma of a fresh bag of clay in my High school art class. It was then
that I discovered my fondness for the yielding nature of clay, that
invites my every touch. I try to approach clay with that same lust
for discovery each time I start to work.
I grew up close
to a traditional folk pottery community but found that clay has much
offer than a basic functional use. Most of the first pieces
I made with clay were abstract and surrealistically sculptural.
building processes offer the opportunity to feel the suppleness of
clay; that sensual sensation that drew me away from painting.
I have found ways to incorporate handbuilding techniques into
my wheel work, and I spend as much time as I can just manipulating
clay with my fingers.
I have dedicated myself to the growth
of my creative skills and to traveling deeper into
the art of clay and the creation of interesting pottery forms. I have also found satisfaction
in my need to share the knowledge I have absorbed from my experiences
and have been conducting classes at my studio and offering workshops
and demonstrations for others. Through demonstrations and the challenge
of teaching pottery, I relearn how I make pottery, and why I am fascinated
with every aspect of working with clay.
I am a juried member of the League
of New Hampshire Craftsmen, and active member of the Seagrove Area
Potters Association, and I am
the Past President of the New Hampshire Potters Guild.
I've recently joined the Carolina clay matters potters guild, and
renewed my membership to the Potters Council.
I’ve been working with clay since my
high school art teacher introduced me to pottery in 1976. I had been
inspired and intrigued by the terra-cotta figure sculptures my sister had
created when she was taking classes from the same teacher. You could
say I was raised on clay, since I come from the clay rich soil of North
I started my professional career as
a potter in 1981, making piggy banks in a Wilmington, NC pottery.
After spending the next 7 years working for various studio and production
potters along the North Carolina coast and in Seagrove (North Carolina’s
pottery Mecca) I decided to take a job at a New Hampshire-based salt-glaze
I enjoyed working for this company because
it made me feel like an important and extremely productive part of something
bigger than myself .
For 10 years I threw production, designed
new items, and helped new potters learn shapes for this line of turn-of-the-century
Salmon Falls Stoneware was a large pottery factory that
made traditional style slip trailed saltglaze pottery, in the style of Norton
Pottery, and other traditional New England, and Hudson River salt glazed pottery
makers of the 1800's...there's that connection to traditional pottery again...
Occasionally working on design ideas
of my own bizarre imagination, I slowly became unhinged enough to start
thinking seriously about doing craft shows. After spending 17 years working
for other potters, I felt a strong urge to release the creativity I had
bottled up inside myself.
So, I set up a studio in my basement,
made a bunch of nothing-too-fancy mugs, bowls, vases, piggy banks, and
started hitting the local street shows.
This is a very tough way to make money,
but a lot of people do a good job at it.
...I still kept my job at the factory.
Within a year I felt confident enough
to even start entering my work into juried art exhibitions. After
being accepted into a couple of shows, I realized I should
(and wanted to) focus on making the
most creative work I can make for myself, since I was doing production
back at the factory. Creating, after all, is my favorite part of
making pottery .
Even though I was able to make progress
with my creative endeavors, a dark dank cellar was not the most inspirational
environment to work in.
When the opportunity to open my own
studio and retail shop came along, I gradually moved out of my basement
studio and started working out of the storefront studio that I’m in now.
With the help of several very good friends
I have been able to dedicate myself to the growth of my creative skills
and to traveling deeper into the art of pottery. I have also
found satisfaction in sharing the knowledge I have absorbed from my experiences
and have been conducting classes at my studio and offering workshops and
demonstrations for others.
My studio at Northwood Pottery was
housed in an eighteenth century New England barn. Northwood
Pottery has existed, in one form or another, since 1972, when Jeff
Lalish & George Niles converted the old 1794 barn into a pottery
studio. The barn had previously been Northwood Garage, where
Lalish’s grandfather had run a gas station and Model T repair from
the 1920's on.
This studio was a much more comfortable
place to work in than the Dover basement, with plenty of room for
my imagination to stretch its legs.
After several years of making pots at the
Northwood Pottery location, and driving a half hour from Dover where I
lived at the time, I was able to find a home and studio location in
My studio from 2003 - 2008 was housed in a nineteenth century New England barn. It
is located only 4 miles west of my previous studio. This
even more room for my thoughts and imagination to run wild. I also
live a close 30 second walk from home to the studio and gallery, so I could
spend much more time with the clay.
Today... I share my Seagrove, North
Carolina pottery studio and gallery with Michele Hastings.