local

I stumbled across this video earlier this week.  It's really stuck with me.  It is quiet, meditative, purposeful, inspiring.  I began thinking about the local impact of pottery-  in terms of my local economy (including but beyond my family), local influences (people, seasons, materials), and I was particularly struck by a scene of this potter digging clay to use in her decorations. 
Several years ago my family camped at a state park on the banks of the Mississippi river.  We spent a day on one of the sandbars and found deep, dark, iron-rich clay veins running throughout the sand.  We all marveled at how black and sticky it was, took note, and went home.  Later in the season we returned with small shovels and buckets to bring some of that clay home.  I made a few test bowls to see how this local clay would fire, closed up the bag and forgot about it.   Because I work with light clay bodies, switching between light and dark clays is problematic- all of your tools, wheel, bats, etc have to be thoroughly cleaned when switching between clays to prevent mixing that is either ugly (dark or light streaks showing up unexpectedly) or catastrophic (some clays have different rates of shrinkage and absorption- this means explosions in the kiln or bubbling glazes, or cracks, none of which makes this potter happy). 
Returning to the video, I thought about this stash of dark local clay in my studio, pulled out a small jar, and made some slip.  I'm experimenting with using this dark clay as an inlay.
I only decorated two tumblers that I'd made with this local slip- we'll see how it works.  Local is very important to me- I try my best to support local food and farmers, shop at local small businesses, but all of my supplies come from who-knows-where.  I'd love it if this works and I could add this to my regular work.

A second thing that stuck with me was the artist's statement that "we have enough things already in this world" and she is careful about what she makes.  Is everything that I make worthy of firing?  The energy expended by the kilns, the materials rendered from the earth?  The money I've spent on clay and glazes?  No.  So no more firing of warped bowls, pieces with design flaws or drawing bloopers.  Seconds happen (speaking of, that kilnload of ^7 cups didn't heal.  The chicken platter was better, but the cups were still crackled from too-thick glaze on bottom).  Most of my flawed pieces go into a smash bin for mosaic work, but I don't want to put time or energy into firing pieces that I know are flawed before they are fired.  Lots to think about. 

Have a nice weekend friends.  I'm returning to my quiet.

R&D- San Francisco

This trip was fantastic.  I toured Heath Ceramics (This is such a wonderful small company.  Everyone there was so incredibly kind and open and I learned SO MUCH), several individual pottery studios (Diana Fayt, Fourth and Clay, the studio of Josie Jurczenia, Rae Dunn, and Christa Assad), and Trax Gallery, which is both a ceramics gallery and studio for Sandy Simon and Robert Brady.   There was a drive-by of Whitney Smith's studio and shop in Oakland.  Bought unavailable-locally glazes, underglazes, and tools.  Spent several hours at SF MOMA, which, happily, featured a ceramics collaboration .


I returned home inspired to clear my plate of my obligations (this week will be a veritable glazing festival) so that I can work on new pieces, using new techniques I learned on the studio visits and try my hand at adapting some pieces that were particularly inspiring.  I am ever grateful to Diana Fayt for sharing her time, knowledge, and passion for this medium with me, and even more grateful to call her my friend.

(top, L-R Josie Jurczenia's studio, Heath Ceramics, test tiles at Diana Fayt's studio.  middle, L-R Rae Dunn's studio, Diana Fayt's studio, Trouble Coffee and my friend Monica Bodnar-Pharr's teacups.  bottom, L-R Heath Ceramics, work in process, Christa Assad's cup, Nest, Louise Nevelson at SF MOMA)




preview

to say that I am thrilled with these is an understatement.  Bisque firing a bunch more of these today.




This weekend I also went to see this show and lecture.  I bought the book that accompanied the show, which is something that I rarely do, but I think I'll go back to it over and over again.  I drew and took notes furiously throughout the lecture- not so much on this potter's style- it was very much in the folk, utilitarian style of the NC mountains (read- really, really thick), but he used a slip-painting style that was reminiscent of Wedgwood Jasperware (without knowing about Jasperware) and crystalline glazes.  Crystalline isn't something I'm interested in pursuing- they're not really food safe- almost, but not quite, too soft and leachable, and frankly, too finicky in the firing.  I'm not into finicky.  Nope.  But I did fall in love with how they cascade down the shoulders of large vases, and that, friends, is something I can draw.  If you're in Memphis, the show runs through mid-November.  There's also a nice impressionist exhibit up through Oct 9.

good morning!

I am 99% sure that I've shared this with you before- it is a cup that I made for one of my favorite customers who is also a volunteer at the Memphis Farmers Market- he takes the early shift and usually helps me set up my  tent- those last few pulling it out steps that one person can't do alone.  And he is always so happy and sunny- as is his wife, who plays the harp (!) at the market (!).  I wanted to give them something happy and sunny.

Text appeals to me- maybe because I love reading so much, and I love calligraphy (but don't really practice it myself) and vintage fonts.  Red on white reminds me of old redwork embroidery and vintage enamel kitchen-ware.  This morning I saw this bit of happy text on my flickr contacts stream.  It made me really happy, and made me wonder how I could take this idea and make it my own.

I think we'll be seeing more "good morning" pieces in the future- and maybe some happy welcoming wall tiles.  We'll see how this percolates.

Have a beautiful week, friends, and happy Valentine's day!  Tell someone how much they mean to you- it will make their day.  You being here, reading, commenting, means so much to me.  Thanks for being a support system!

today


seventy
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I got back on my wheel for the first time in two weeks. I have been itching to throw again. I really, really need to glaze this week, but what I wanted to do was throw. I managed about an hour and a half- two taller cylinder vases, more eggs, some tiny bowls, and a honey pot. I need to take this vase upstairs and put it up by my wheel so that I can work on this form. Or perhaps it would be best handbuilt, like my new salt cellars. This was my mother in law's, probably from when she was a child or very young adult. It is Japanese export, very old. I'm not sure if it is the square shape and fluted texture that I like (probably) or if it is the burst of orange (not usually my color, but it works here) that appeals to me.

I think I talked about these antique jonquils last year. They came from Sisters Bulb Farm in Louisiana, which sadly, (really, really sadly, because they grew a huge variety of antique daffodils) is now closed. The really tiny ones are called "Early Louisiana", and I tell you, just this small clutch of 6 flowers has been enough to perfume my living room all week. I adore them.

Hope you have a lovely spring week- it will be a busy one for me, but I do hope I'll have new work to show at the end of it.

request

I'm a bit stuck. I've been restocking in the studio- making things I need to make, but I'm not exactly inspired (no, that's wrong- I'm VERY motivated to bring in money for my family. But I'm not excited about it) by what I'm doing. Surface design really isn't what gets me excited about pottery- it's the form that does great things for me.

So I'm trying to work through this stuck, but would you, could you, send me some images (or urls of images on line) that you find lovely and inspiring, shape/form wise? Pretty please?

Thank you!

advent

Advent is my favorite "season." It is a quiet time for waiting, reflection, preparing. I love it. A peek of light in the darkness, speaking of good things to come. Yesterday we had our annual advent wreath workshop; this year, little boy did the wreath almost entirely by himself. I usually have very specific ideas of what I want, how I want it to look, but I let go and let him create this year. Letting go, preparing, waiting is my own personal theme for this advent season. It is hard to do that- I HATE letting go- but the results always pay off- in beautiful memories and unexpected blessings.

I went to a women's college in Winston Salem, founded by the Moravian church. Advent was very special in Old Salem, celebrated with beautiful white stars hanging in doorways, lots of beeswax candles, and greenery. It was simple and lovely. I've taken my cues for Christmas decorating from my four years in this special place- I don't put up our tree until midway through December, but our advent wreath is out, my simple advent calendar comes out, and in years past, I've hung a Moravian Star over our doorway. Sadly, it died last year (after eight years of advents) and I never got around to replacing it.










This year's advent preparations are more simple, and hopefully more meaningful. We've cut back on the extraneous- both gifts and activities. We're giving fewer, simpler, and more handmade gifts. I have some sewing to do, more pottery to make, and a bit of knitting to finish. I spent a large chunk of Saturday afternoon finishing rolled beeswax candles and making some paper star ornaments for packages. The smell of beeswax and the golden light these candles make me happy and fill me with hope. That's what advent is about- letting go and quiet, hopeful waiting and watching for the bright future.

Blessings, friends.

the martyrs of memphis


martyrs icon
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Here, finally, is the 90% completed icon for the Martyrs of Memphis that will go home this weekend with the Sisters of St. Mary's in Sewanee, TN. I finished the gold portions today*, ironically, on the feast day of Constance and her companions.

I've shown you pictures of this and my other version of the Martyrs icon before, but I'm not sure I've explained why I'm so fascinated with this group of mostly women (but including men) featured here.

I attend St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral**, located at the fringes of downtown Memphis, TN. It is in the medical district (appropriately, given its history with the Yellow Fever Epidemic, when over 5,000 Memphians died), bridging bustling downtown, impoverished neighborhoods, three hospitals, and numerous social-service organizations, including several missions for the homeless. During the 1978 Yellow Fever Epidemic, St. Mary's (a mission church of the larger downtown Episcopal church, billed as a "house of prayer for all people" because its parishoners weren't required to buy their pews, attracting members of lower socio-economic status) opened its doors to those orphaned by the fever. The Sisters, led by Constance, ran a school for girls. When the epidemic struck, Constance and Thecla were safely on vacation but returned to nurse the poor (for everyone of means left the city posthaste), sick, and dying. They worked until they, too, were struck with the fever. Charles Parsons was rector of Grace Church in Memphis and served with the sisters. Louis Schuyler came to Memphis from Hoboken, NJ, to serve at St. Mary's and died 10 days after he arrived.

Sunday night I finished Molly Crosby's excellent American Plague, a history of the Yellow Fever, it's multiple epidemics, and the scientists who worked to discover its roots and develop a vaccine. The story was mind-boggling. The sacrifices of the priests, nuns, doctors, and scientists were nothing short of enormous. At the top of the icon, an angel holds a scroll with the verse from John 15:13 "no man has greater love than this, than to lay down his life for his friends."


* I had completely forgotten what the actual date of the Martyrs feast was until I was contacted by Fr. Miguel Zavala Mugica, who requested permission to use the image of one of the icons for his excellent (but written in spanish) blog.
**St. Mary's also played an active role in the 1968 Sanitation Workers' strike and the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis. Dean William Dimmick carried the cathedral's processional cross in an inter-faith march to city hall the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain. It split the church, but many of those who stayed were dedicated to social justice issues, specifically involving the sick, the poor, and the homeless.

inspiring me

Today I bought myself a little present. Actually, today I bought a roof. That's a big purchase, but not such a present. It required that we leave the house for the day, but a couple of hours after the guys started working, we got the biggest, longest rain that we needed pretty desperately.

My little present of small sketchbook, a tin of watercolors, and some brushes was inspired by some photos, paintings, and ephemera made by some very creative ladies on flickr. I often work myself to death (don't all mothers?), cleaning, caring, pottering, gardening, cooking, without taking time to reflect on what matters, what's percolating behind the day-to-day matters in my life. I hope that participating, even just a little, in this ritual of creation, observation, and reflection will help me bring some balance into my life.

I found myself painting verbena bonerais, a tall, branchy plant that I just love. Some people consider it a weed- it does self-seed freely- and it does have coarse foliage and can be unkillable (though I've killed it many times), but I love its self-reliance, its flexibility, and how it moves so gracefully as the wind blows through it. Purple isn't my favorite color, but I even like this purple, how it pops out from its surroundings. It's been a long time since I've worked in watercolors- more than 15 years- but I enjoyed taking the few minutes to paint and reflect this morning.

Friday!

There are several magazines that I subscribe to with the laughable goal of being "on trend." Sometimes I'm ahead of the curve slightly, but mostly I make what I make and these magazines are eye candy. This little teacup and saucer, from Anthropologie, has been in Domino twice in the past couple of months. Really, it reminds me of the tumbler and bowl I bought from Molly Hatch and her now (sadly) empty etsy store. So I love it, they come in different colors, and it's a very good thing that there aren't Anthropologie stores in Tennessee (that I know of, and please don't inform me if there are) and that I no longer get the catalog, becuase I love their home goods but they, ah, prevent me from attaining my goal of a clutter-free home.

Originally, I ripped this out to see if I could make my own variation of it, but at this point in time, it seems that I will be making nothing but berry bowls for the foreseeable future. Not that I'm complaining! I'm going to attempt one, maybe making similar lines with a blue underglaze pencil, or make a blue one with white lines. . . in the fall.

Today I have my mother's helper, but all the pottery I'm going to make for my sale is made. I have more berry bowls for orders to make, but not today. I've done 26 this week, both for orders and my own sale, but today's task is herb markers, finishing sale postcards, and listing the pieces that I photographed for etsy on Monday (while I catch up on my podcasts!). Thursday was an all-day little boy fiesta. We went to the library, out for lunch, went to the barber shop for our first professional haircut (and silly mama forgot her camera), to a playdate, and then to the pool for a swimming date. We finished the day by catching fire flies at dusk under the trees at Rhodes College, and reading books in mamas bed until we passed out. Literally. I woke up with books around us and the lamps still on. Ahh, summer.
Have a wonderful weekend!

last little birdy

I made a few of these little bowls- one larger than my cafe au laits, one teeny one (this one is 2" tall, 2.5" in diameter at the top) and a tumbler. As I look at it now, this bird stamp, which I made for some St. Francis icons, looks a bit like an airline logo. Maybe it's just the position and the royal blue. Or maybe I'm just tired after a very full weekend. The larger bowl has a robin's egg blue interior and bird, the tumbler is all white with a blue bird. I like the clean lines, white exterior, and colored interior. Somehow, though, it almost doesn't look like my pottery to me. Not bad, just a stylistic departure. But not sure how exactly, though.

That last birdy piece sold before I could even pack it up to take to the farmer's market. Thanks Michele! I'll have to make more. I do like that style.

Have a great week, everyone. I'm teaching again this week and next. Between that and farmer's market preparations, I'll be around less, but you'll still hear from me.

birdy teapot

Yesterday, in my sketchbook, I showed you a picture of a bird-lidded teapot. It just came out of the kiln, and is the same one that I showed you and talked about way back in January, inspired by Laura Norris's fun bird painting. Well, here it is. I was pretty pleased with how it came out- This one will be for sale, but I haven't priced it yet. For more detailed pictures, go here.

Happy Friday!

sketchbook


sketchbook page
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
yesterday afternoon, while little boy was watching his coveted 30 minutes of pbs kids, I spent some time wandering around etsy and flickr, looking for ideas. I frequently look for "bee," "bird" and "pottery" to see what other people are doing with my favorite themes. Lately I've been all about the birds. When we go on walks I pick up the newly hatched egg shells from robins and mocking birds, marveling at the intensity of the blues. I found a tiny tiny blue jay feather that is resting in my kitchen window. It only makes sense that I'd put these things that inspire me in my pottery.

Two things I noticed- small birds perched on the rims of bowls and/or used as knobs, both of which I already do, and paintings or drawings of silhouetted birds perched on a wire. Because I don't want to copy anyone else's work, blatantly or otherwise, and because I really don't draw or paint freehand on my work (that tends to impede production), I started thinking about how I could make this image my own with clay stamps like my little bee logo stamp. The lone dove (because those are the birds I see perched outside my window most often) will probably be the image that I use for the stamp, and I really like the idea of the line continuing around the entire piece. I'm thinking of a bowl or mug with a small thin line carved around the top of the piece as it rotates on the wheel. We'll see how it goes.

why I love bees

* I wrote this little essay back in January. I've already told you some of why I love bees, but this is the whole story. Since I posted about the bee project earlier this week and have been spreading the news far and wide, I thought now would be a good time to go into the origins of my love for the little winged creatures.

In the 1970s and 80s, all, it seems, little Baptist boys and girls around Memphis were given small frameable cards with their name’s origins in greek, roman, or Hebrew. Mine is a derivation of the Greek word for honeybee. In mythology, Melissa was the name of a wood nymph who helped save young Zeus from his father, Cronus (a nice fellow who ate all of his other children), hid the young god in the hills, and fed him on milk and honey. When Cronus discovered Melissa’s treason, he turned her into a worm. Zeus took pity on the nymph and turned her into a honeybee. The card didn’t go into mythology, but stated that honeybees were hard working, diligent creatures. The name and its symbol are fitting: I have always been busy, industrious, bouncing from one project to the next (but finishing most of them!) like a bee gathering nectar and pollen from flowers in a garden. I have a bee’s inborn tendency to plan ahead and amass what I might need for a busy season: pottery for a festival or sale months away, a freezer full of meals to feed my family while I’m teaching a residency, six different books and knitting projects to fill my time on long trips.

After I had been making pottery for a year or so, I drew some designs to carve into stamps: a dragonfly, a bee, plus a few floral and leaf motifs- all reflecting my love for the garden and nature. I carved these designs into clay and bisqued them to use as stamps. Eventually I stopped using all but the bee. That original clay stamp still sees use in the designs of my pottery. I try to remember to stamp each piece while the clay is wet to leather-hard, even if the bee is not a part of the design of the piece. For those times when I don’t make it back up to the studio until the piece is too dry to handle, I had a rubber stamp made to use with an underglaze pad. That stamp, made in 2001, saw so much use it fell apart this year. Dear Gary had a new bee stamp made for me for Christmas this year.

The bee is now my signature, which made this summer’s bee die-off feel personal to me. I made an extra effort to plant bee-friendly flowers and plants in my garden, letting vegetables and herbs bolt, flower, and go to seed, and letting local wild flowers- clover, dandelions, and asters- pop up in my lawn to nourish the little bees of midtown Memphis who found their way into my garden. We use local honey from Peace Bee Farm in Proctor, AR (available at the Memphis Farmers Market downtown and at the Wednesday Memphis Botanic Gardens Farmers Market), and do our best to both grow and buy local organic produce and garden without pesticides. Interested in bee gardening? This is a great place to start, and, of course, the bee project.

This photo was from last summer- I had a bunch of sunflowers that volunteered in my little kitchen garden. The bees swarmed all summer- I liked nothing better than to go and watch the big and little pollen-covered bees gorge themselves at the sunflowers!

drippy ginkgo teacup


drippy ginkgo teacup
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last summer I made a series of leaf teacups for my boy's mother's day out teachers, as well as the librarian who we saw every week for 2 years at the toddler story hour at the main library. I think I made 6-8 of them, let them sit around for a while, then finally put them up on etsy in the last week or so. You've already seen a couple of my favorites- one with a big beautiful fern (that I broke and may try to fix for my own use), and one with a Japanese Climbing fern.

I had serious reservations about putting this one up because I was so unhappy with how the glaze slid off the leaf and pooled at the foot of the cup. Ruined, I thought. A waste of a ginkgo, I thought. I LOVE the ginkgo tree. The tall stately sculptural shape of the tree itself, the fan-shaped leaves, its ancient history, and the fabulous golden fall coat it puts on every year*. My neighbor transplanted a small ginkgo from her backyard to her front yard shortly after we moved to this house in 2004. It thrives in the east-facing yard, and serves as a handy-dandy source for leaves for my pottery. Her neighbor also has a tree, so I may never be without!

I called in sick with a stomach bug this morning and went back to bed after dropping little boy off to school. When I awoke, in a sleepy queasy fog, I turned on the old mac and was shocked to see that this piece had sold. Thank you, Dane, for giving my poor drippy child a home. I am always surprised when the things that I perceive as sub-par are among the first to leave my "nest."

*Before I had my son, we lived way out in the country and I would drive into the city to teach clay residencies in the city schools through what was then the Center for Arts Education, an arm of the Greater Memphis Arts Council. Sadly, this program folded in 2003. I remember driving into midtown to reach a specific school just before Thanksgiving to drop off the children's pieces. I stopped the car in front of a huge ginkgo that was beginning to lose its leaves, a golden tree with a golden carpet. On impulse, I filled the entire back floorboard of my car with ginkgo leaves. Half of those leaves made it into pottery, a quarter stayed in the floor just to make me smile that winter.

new blog

a while ago I posted a picture of the goodies my miniswap partner, Amanda, sent my boy. This weekend she started a new blog- Owl and Pussycat. Our swap package was filled with fun things to play with, eat, make, read, and listen to, all based on her little family's favorite places to go in Vancouver. I look forward to seeing what creative goodness Amanda sends our way.

lovely and shiny and new



One of my first blog posts was about my dear friend Katharine's sister, Laura, who inspired me to work harder at pottery and at creative mothering. At the time, the painting, Night Chorus, pictured above, was the placeholder for her website. I've just discovered that the site is up and running! Please go and visit Laura's site and meander through her beautiful, folksy paintings that celebrate the everyday.

YAY, Laura!

bees

You may already know that this little image of a bee finds its way into all of my pottery. It is either stamped into the wet or leather hard clay, or I stamp it on the bottom of each piece with underglaze. And then there are the bee-skep* inspired pieces, the honey pots and butter dishes I've already shown you. I've always loved bees- I've even been known to find bees, drunk on necter, buried up to their hind ends in flowers and very carefully stroke their velvety bodies (please don't try this with honeybees. You'll get stung. It really only works with bumblebees).
Yesterday I met with some "colleagues" (can you call us colleagues when we're vendors at the same market?) from the Memphis Farmer's Market, Richard and Rita Underhill of Peace Bee Farm. My family uses a LOT of honey- we've gone through 4 lbs since November, so I called the Underhills to see if they sold in Memphis during the winter. They happened to be coming into town from Proctor, AR, so they met me at the museum and brought me another 4lb of honey. I enjoyed visiting with them-they are truly the nicest people, have the most lovely honey, and also have wonderful handmade beeswax candles. They said that they would be at the Memphis Farmers Market beginning in April, and assuming that the Memphis Botanic Gardens opens their Wednesday Farmers Market again, I'd expect to see them there, too. Richard and Rita were featured this past October on our local PBS affiliate's "Southern Routes" program, both because of last summer's scary bee die-off, and because they are so knowledgeable and approachable.

I have an essay about bees, my love for them, and their important role in our ecosystem and our food production, but for now, suffice it to say that I love them, and what we love shows up in our lives over and over and over again. More thoughts on bees to come.


* a bee skep is a domed, straw structure that were used to house bees in gardens in England and Europe, particularly Northern Europe. They are no longer used for attracting bees (illegal for housing them, in fact), but are decorative only, because of two things. 1) no way to protect against predators/mites. 2) to harvest the honey, the entire hive had to be destroyed. Sometimes if you see a picture of a bee hive, you're really looking at the skep. The hive is what the bees made themselves inside the skep, hollow tree, or modern wooden bee boxes.

things I wish I could translate into clay

This is number one on my list: the French Duralex Picardie glass. I tried to throw and flute some, but they just didn't work for me. I bought a few for a quarter each at a thrift store, having long been obsessed with the form* (just like the cafe au lait bowls), was thrilled to discover their name, then dismayed to find out that they were no longer manufactured. Oh, there's still a version being made, I just don't like the "new" form. It's very square and boxy at the top, better for stacking, I think the idea was. I bought all that was left in 4,6, and 12 oz sizes at the local Williams-Sonoma outlet, but that only bought me 6 small glasses and 3 large ones. I'll be adding to the collection as I find them because they are fabulous. I dropped a 4 oz glass on the bathroom floor the other day- it bounced, didn't break. Everything breaks on 1920s tile!

I'd like to send a huge thank you to Patricia at A Little Hut for her praise and beautiful presentation of my bamboo tumbler. At my house, if you don't see a picardie glass in my hand, you'll find a bamboo tumbler. Thanks, Patricia.

*My plug for industrial design, this is. Also, as an aside, I'm teaching a sculpture unit right now at the museum. A student pulled me aside yesterday and whispered- is that really a trash can? It was an Alessi, I believe. I wish there had been time to talk about industrial design, but all I had time (and energy, due to my recovering but still present stomach flu) was a whispered-back "yes!"

why I make pottery

This sweet little pitcher was a Christmas gift from my friend Katherine. It came with 7 small bowls and may well be one of the nicest gifts I've every been given. The set was made by Lee and Pup McCarty, famous Mississippi Delta potters, sometime in the late 1960s. Dr. and Mrs. McCarty are unfailingly gracious- I see them a half-dozen or so times a year in Memphis at the library, the museum, and at the farmer's market. Every time I see them I feel quite a bit like I've just met Brad Pitt- I gush, am flustered, and generally act starstruck. And, because they are so gracious, they always seem to remember who I am.

Most Mississippians know McCarty pottery. Many Mississippi brides (though I am not a native of the state, my husband and I met and married in Oxford, so I feel as though the state, with all of its faults and glories, is a part of me) receive at least a piece or two of McCarty pottery as gifts. Gary and I were fortunate to receive quite a lot of it. The simple, sculptural forms, bold cobalt (also jade or nutmeg, as seen here) matte glaze, and useful nature of this pottery inspired me to try my hand at the wheel after we left Oxford and I was between jobs. I never dreamed that I would make my living from pottery when I began in 2000, nor did I imagine I would be able to tell Dr. and Mrs. McCarty how much they influenced me.

My personal pottery style changed rapidly from mimicking other potters to finding my own expression in mud, but I can clearly see their influence- especially in this tiny bird-like form. I do enjoy using my McCarty every day- our sugar bowl, tea cannister, and ramekins are all theirs. This pitcher is filed with a few short twigs of winter honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima) from my neighbor's yard. It blooms every January and fills a room with its sweet lemony perfume. The small, wavy black line on the pitcher is one of the signatures of McCarty pottery- it represents the Mississippi River and can be found on the vast majority of their functional pottery.

If you are ever in the Mississippi Delta, it is worth your time to take a side trip to Merigold, where the McCarty studio and gardens are located. We went down for my 29th birthday, four years ago, and even in mid-March the gardens were fabulous. The McCartys are wonderful artists and fine people; I am grateful for their influence on my life and craft.