Reclaiming Personal Experience

Reclaiming personal experience: experiencing something rather than just looking at a digital image. The Chris Staley teapot pictured below is so beautiful. How different the experience would be if I could use it:  feel the smoothness of the handle, the weight as you lift it,  and the warmth of the body of the teapot holding tea.


From Chris Staley: The Hegemonic Eye

“Certainly in ceramics a photograph of a pot can have profound implications. Often it is slide transparencies or digital images that determine what art schools we go to, what jobs we get, or where we sell our work. And yet we know a functional pot isn’t really appreciated until it is used. As a young potter I was told that the quality of a 4×5 transparency was more important than the pot itself simply because more people would see the photo. When the eye solely experiences art, in this case pottery, we become an audience of viewers, which is much different than the full sensory experience of using a favorite cup. By using a cup we reclaim personal experience.”


Making pots

“It took me into my hands, to creating something real.”

pots drying 2

Something I think potters can share is the pleasure received from seeing a shelf of finished pots waiting to be fired, or a kiln opening brimming with pots still warm from that fire.   I work for weeks, and can hold the tangible product of my labor in my hand. There’s no ambiguity,  the process of my work is visible as objects in space.

My table full of pots drying is an exhilarating sight for me. At this stage of the process, I usually don’t want to stop the making- it’s a time when I have more ideas for the forms that I’ve just finished, but it’s time to glaze and fire, and complete this cycle.

“It took me into my hands, to creating something real,” is a statement by Terry Tempest Williams on the program, “Being.”




Knots and Pots Exhibit

Next Friday, June 5th,  the “KNOTS and POTs” Exhibit at the Phoenix Village Art Center will open, and run till June 29th.  I’ll be showing Nerikomi pottery and Kathryn Keegan will be showing her nerikomi work.  Join us on First Friday for the opening.  6-9pm


June Postcard front


Kathryn is a wonderful artist who works in many materials.  This show will primarily exhibit her intricate knot work.  Hundreds of hours of careful work are needed to create her beautiful necklaces and sculptures.  Also in this exhibit she’ll have floor cloths, wall weavings, and a delightful “recycled” sculpture.    Take a look at a few of the pieces that will be in the show:


knotted jewelry








woven wall hanging

Simple Handmade Pots

“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?”
– a quote from the Donna Tartt novel, Goldfinch.

So, though handmade pots aren’t magnificent paintings, the simple mug, that for some reason gives you a short shot of pleasure, maybe helps you to pay attention to that morning coffee, or the morning light coming through the translucent porcelain cup. The rice bowl, the rim, that swirls around the warm oatmeal on a cold day. Little pleasures like this, and so many others awaken me to a small beauty, and give me a path to experience something larger and indeed magnificent, like the following Mary Oliver poem:

Franz Marc’s Blue Horses

I step into the painting of the four blue horses.
I am not even surprised that I can do this.

One of the horses walks toward me.
His blue nose noses me lightly, I put my arm
over his blue mane, not holding on, just
He allows me my pleasure.
Franz Marc died a young man, shrapnel in his brain.
I would rather die than try to explain to the blue horses
what war is.
They would either faint in horror, or simply
find it impossible to believe.
I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
Now all four horses have come closer,
are bending their faces toward me
as if they have secrets to tell.
I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t.
If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what
could they possibly say?

Mary Oliver

Strictly Functional!

I submitted two pots to the show “Strictly Functional”, and one was accepted. Hooray! The problem is, they didn’t tell me which one, and I won’t find out until August. Which one do you think made the cut?

New Ikebana

The Ikebana class that Jose’ Juico and I led this summer just finished. Success in vessel making, and so many beautiful arrangements were the result! Below are some images of arrangements, starting with an exquisite one by Jose’

Spring Classes at Milkhouse Studio

The Spring equinox is next week. Hooray! Has there been anything more welcome than Spring 2014?

I’ve planned Spring classes and offer them to you.-  Classes begin March 25th.

I’m looking forward to begin another Ikebana Class with Jose’ , the studio filled with flowers and the quiet beauty of an Ikebana arrangement!

Carol Ikebana
This winter I’ve been experimenting with Nerikomi: flower designs, geometric patterning and easy ways to transform slabs into 3 dimension, hoping to share new techniques with the Spring Nerikomi class.

teapot chrysanthemum cropped

And, finally, after a surprising result from a sawdust firing from last year’s handbuilding class, I want to explore ways with students to create figurative gesture and movement in a slab built pot.   Roz Epstein and I will teach the class, Form and the Figure.


gourd sawdust pot cropped

For imformation about the classes, follow the link to my Classes page.



Flameware Pottery


flameware threesome


For my Black Friday sale  last year, I sold flameware pots for use on stovetops and ovens.  The clay is very foreign for me to use- red-brown, very gritty and gooey- a departure from working with porcelain.  I was glad to clean my studio at the end of my work cycle making these pots.  Nevertheless, I love using them.  I’ve had a few flameware pots for over 3 years, and have used them brutally- frying bacon, steak, fridge to stove, freezer to stove, testing their durability.    They’ve withstood all my abuse, are easy to clean, and have developed a pleasing black flashing from the flame.