Well over 200 gourd-like pieces were completed over a span of about 5 years while working at the Midwest Clay Guild in Evanston, IL . They were some of the first serious works I made after my return from Peru, where I lived from 1975-1978. Initially the gourds were made using the basic pinch method— creating shape from a ball of clay. As the pieces grew in size, coils were added to achieve added height utilizing a technique I learned from the renowned Casas Grandes potter Juan Quezada, who I met while working as his translator at a summer workshop at the U of CA, Idyllwild. As the process continued to unfold, I pinched the tops closed—creating a “false bottom” into which I placed other pinched organic forms. Most surfaces were coated with a couple layers of terra sigillata (ultra-refined slip), then burnished. Many were sawdust fired. Some had additions of glaze, others ceramic slips. Only a handful of pieces now remain in my inventory.
Spirit Box Series
This entire body of work over the last 10 years emerged from an assignment given to my students at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin to create a reliquary piece using soft slabs. What ensued after making a piece of my own for the assignment was an immediate connection not only to the spontaneity of this method, but also to the endless possibility of creating vessels that suggested both timelessness and reverence. This ever-evolving series has been largely influenced by the trapezoidal stone structures and portals that are found in the ruins of pre-Colombian civilizations. The pieces start with a geometric core which is then textured and adorned with handles, feet, and other additions. No two pieces are alike.
My first exposure to clay was on the potter’s wheel over 40 years ago. I learned how to make standard pots such as cups, bowls, and plates in Tucson, Arizona, and have continued to return to this method over the years as a welcome tool to create utilitarian items for everyday use. My thrown work is very straight-forward—simple, graceful forms with a dipped glaze application. The latest body of functional work is comprised of slab built darted bowls or tumblers with tripod feet. These off-the-wheel pieces allow me enormous flexibility to move beyond symmetrical silhouette and to imprint subtle textural relief imagery using handmade tiles I’ve carved over the years.
All this work is dishwasher and microwave safe.
I invite you to take a look at my photo gallery.