Terry and I have known each other for a while now, as members of the local Mountain Art Guild, and from doing shows together. We like to chat about the latest Etsy happenings, local shows, and art marketing tips. She makes wonderful functional pottery that is also fun and attractive, and is the potter behind Loma Prieta Pottery.
I was happy when Terry invited me over the other day to chat and drink some iced tea in the heat of the afternoon. I hadn't seen her studio before, but had heard it was very nice. Apparently her cats think so too. Terry is getting ready for a show this weekend, so not much was going on here.
She has been making functional items like mugs, vases, soap dispensers, wine chillers and plates for some time now, and each of them has been engineered to perform its function well. One of her special items is her carved cherry blossom teapots. The design is very clean, and quite lovely. She recently sold one of her "lucky red teapots" to be used during a Japanese wedding ceremony. How cool is that? The tea sets make wonderful wedding gifts.
If you've seen the movie "Julie & Julia", you might be looking for a salt pig. Terry makes some great ones.
Salt Pig in Woo Blue.
Anyway, as she was showing me her work space, I was struck by how much our dissimilar arts actually have in common. We both can make messes, that's for sure, but I think she's better at it than me. Her process has a number of disctinct stages, like mine does, but her pieces take much longer to produce.
First she throws the piece on her electric wheel, and it gets transferred to shelving while still on the bat. When leather hard, she cuts it off the bat and takes it to her trimming wheel (kick-powered) to clean up.
Efficiency is another thing we have in common. She saves the scrap clay from trimming to rehydrate and reuse. Glass beadmakers generally produce a lot of "shorts", or very small ends of glass rods that many folks either sell as scrap, or throw away. I like to melt mine onto full rods so that nothing is wasted. I also use the heck out of my mandrels, cutting them shorter as the ends become too bent to be usable.
Once pieces are dry they can be fired in her kiln, but she waits until she has a full load before firing. The kiln can handle different numbers of each size piece, so she will make what items she needs to fill the kiln before firing.
Glazing is done at a friends' house with her kiln, and once again, you'll find Terry schlepping her art out of the house to a remote location. It's truly a labor of love, or a workout, or both, but in either event, the outcome is very pretty. Every time we do a show together I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a jewelry artist. She's usually still packing her bulky, heavy pottery as I stop by to say goodbye on my way out with all my work in one small case. But at least she has a very nice husband who often helps her set up or pack up.
This is a photo of Terry working in her studio (from her website). I hope to visit again when the production line is up and running.
If you're not able to come to one of her shows in this area, check out her website and her Etsy shop. She's very friendly to custom work, but I'm sure you'll find something you love in her shop. I think I'm going to visit her this weekend at the Tapestry Arts Festival in San Jose and do some shopping.