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  • 08 Jan 2022 8:34 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

     Gary and Valerie Tibbetts of Weyrich Gallery are retiring, and will be closing the gallery January 30,  2022 after almost 40 years enriching the community with their array of fine art. Their support of  potters and ceramic artists has been unparalleled. Grateful for the time given by Valerie and Gary for  this interview --- this is “Part One,” --- “Part Two” will be published at a later date. 

      

    From their website: 

    Weyrich Gallery, owned by Valerie and Gary Tibbetts, is a special place. Intuition is the determining factor in the harmony the Tibbetts have orchestrated in their small space whose inspiration is on a grand scale. The thoughtful visitor will soon realize the high level of craftsmanship reflected in the work on display and also the sense that gallery artists seem to have an affinity with each other.

    The Weyrich Gallery is full of educational and artistic products and services that bring harmony into one’s hectic life. We offer a creative environment featuring exquisite jewelry, paintings, acrylic, pastels, and prints. Also mixed media, glass, metal, wood, clay, fiber, wood block prints, hand colored photography, monotypes, and limited-edition prints.

     

    In a follow-up conversation after the November 15th interview, Valerie told the story of how she became enthralled by a place they visited in Latin America (their mode of transport was hitchhiking). The vision she gained there would give fruit to starting the gallery, and lead them to name it a “Rare Vision” gallery. A vision they have been dedicated to ever since.

     

     

    The Slip Trail: What do you think of this warm weather? 

    Valerie: Ha! We should be out hiking!

    Gary: It’s scary. What’s the summer going to be like?


    PHOTO CREDIT: Leonard Baca, November 2021

     

    TST:  Here is that first question I sent. You have shown ceramists/potters from New Mexico as well as potters from across the country in your gallery. Talk about the importance of ceramics and clay to your gallery.

    Valerie: Well, I’m just going to start from the beginning. In 1982-83, we opened a “rare vision” type of gallery, our focus on fine craft and fine art, mixed media, ceramics, paintings, and prints. My background is in fine art and metal work design. In 1973 my study of art and metal work began. I studied fine art at the University of New Mexico, and lived and studied arts and metals work at the Art Institute in Córdoba, Spain for 9 months, in 1974-75. Gary graduated from UNM with a degree in anthropology, and had studied ceramics in Sydney, Australia in 1966. And he will give you a little bit of a connection leading up to that answer about his experience with clay. In 1989, Jim Srubek, a professor at the university in the College of Education, came to our gallery and asked to do a show, I think it was called “Legacy in Porcelain,” with his work and the students of the Arita Method of Porcelain program. We had a very successful show, and continued to exhibit ceramics from University of New Mexico. The gallery continued to feature works by UNM students and faculty after Prof. Srubek retired in 2001, until 2021.

    Gary: The first show was 1989 although we are not certain of the date. 

    Valerie: We had been exhibiting tea bowls, and really didn’t have much knowledge about Chado / Japanese Tea Ceremony, so, when Kathy Cyman came on board in 2001, I asked her if there was ever a teacher, I would love to know more about tea bowls, and to start studying about Chado. And that led me and Gary to a teacher and to many other accredited teachers in the U.S.A., many would come and speak/tour to ABQ and Santa Fe. The school of Japanese Tea Ceremony is called Urasenke. We started in 2006. Chado New Mexico group connected us to many different ceramic artists in N.M. and nationwide. And so, Gary and I would go out to the west coast to San Francisco and stay there, cause that’s where the North American headquarters for Urasenke is, at Green Gulch Farm north of San Francisco. And there’s a tea house there, there was one also here in Santa Fe that we were lucky enough to drink tea in also. This was the catalyst that changed our outlook in ceramics and clay, and to present it at the gallery as fine art, not fine craft. Because in the East, ceramics back in Japan, it’s considered a fine art. I’d been to Japan twice, and was exposed to ceramics, Raku, Hagi, in the different prefectures in Japan, Bizen and Karatsu, and how again ceramics in the East is considered a fine art. The study of Tea is a very deep and moving meditation that opens the senses of the physical body and also really connects with the present moment. It is very sensual: smells, touch, sound, seeing, listening, taste. And again, the Japanese Tea ceremony has the 4 principles: wa - harmony, kei - respect, sei - purity, jaku- tranquility. So, this really started Gary and I to understand more about clay and ceramics by holding tea bowls. Then we had to start learning more about glazes, the rim of the bowl, the foot rims, the clays, the shapes of the tea bowl. Again, Raku - considered the crème de la crème, Hagi, and Karatsu ware. This really changes our eye. The subtleties of holding the tea bowl in our hands and mixing tea in the vessel with the whisk and preparing tea, but also during the ceremony, before drinking, you make an offering, called kanche, honoring the tea, the potter, the people that made all of the utensils, past and present, was important. The shape of the bowl, the front, maybe where the glaze has hit the bowl. I think what really happened is we were taught, not just us, we were taught the pure essence of the bowl. And again, really moving into the present moment, I think that’s why we were willing to sit you know in these strange positions sometimes [both chuckle]. In my mind, the Tea connects with the kokaro, which is the Japanese term for heart-mind connection. So here we started opening the heart area, not really intellectualizing about the glaze or the form, but we were moving into learning about the essence of what you were holding in your hand. So that’s what I feel was my story of how we began, the answer to your question. 

     

    TST: Describe a potter your gallery has represented, sharing an anecdote. 

    Valerie: One time at my tea class, which is called a tamae in Japanese, I was using a water container with the form called mizusachi, that a potter Willi Singleton had made. I was moved by the form, the glaze, the design. I didn’t know he had studied in Japan 6 years. And dug his own clay and made his own glazes. I was then introduced to anagama, the wood-firing kiln by Willi, the potter from Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, and he taught us about his process of “Slow Clay,” like “Slow Food.” He was a teaching potter at Lama Foundation in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which was started by Millie Johnstone. She’s an important figure because she’s the one that brought Urasenke to Lama Foundation in 1970. That’s where a lot of our teachers were coming from. Then we were introduced to different conferences, one was called Tea Beyond Japan, where there were new teachers, new ceramics, and artists, a circle of artists, not only we were exposed to local potters like Kathy Cyman, Michael Thornton, Michael Prokos, or some of our Native American potters that we had, we were also then introduced to people like Rob Barnard, Judith Duff, Jack Troy. And that also broadened our awareness. I continued to see that it really happened, even though I had been to Japan twice, and introduced to it while I was there, I think it was the actualization of holding the vessel, and really being taught how you look at them. And that too, as I said, the intellectual mind, that really kind of heart-felt … what was the essence of the vessel that you were holding. We’re such a throw-away society, and we’re moving at such a fast rate, that even I know for artists, they’re not being able to center, you know, so that they can quiet themselves and kind of get grounded. 


    PHOTO CREDIT: Leonard Baca, November 2021

     

    TST:  Didn’t you also hold seminars and workshops there at the gallery?

    Gary: Yes, we had the classes in tea ceremony, but of course we also had openings throughout that whole period, that went along with it. 

    Valerie: Oh yes, many different times, yes. We did classes, as Gary was saying, in the loft, for I think two years, where our teachers would teach the pottery, and offered the tea room, but yes, we have done different exhibits with having our potters from NM come, and see the work of four students as well as other visiting ceramicists. Sometimes if we had an exhibit opening before that, what we would do was to bring the tatami mat out, then upstairs, we would create as a tea room, maybe we could only sit six people at a time. Then some of the members of the NM Potters group would come down because some of them lived in Santa Fe or Taos. Then they would talk about how you would move the bowl, and how you look at the subtleties of it. And sometimes the “Slow Clay” potter Willi Singleton, I think we had 10 shows with him, would always do a lecture about his process and a lot of potters would come to that. And sometimes he would go and do a teaching at UNM with Kathy Cyman’s class. When you know about glazes, when you know about shapes, and then developing that eye that you’re talking about, being exposed to shows and the things people do during the ceremonies --- when one starts developing that, one starts seeing things differently. 

     

    TST:  Describe a learning experience you had with clay, and share about pottery you have made yourself. 

    Valerie: Part of Chado New Mexico arranged for people to visit different clay artists. Betsy Williams was a member of that. Betsy offered to do a class and she showed me how to throw a tea bowl. For me it was most humbling to get on a wheel and center, to knead the clay and all that. I left thinking, “This is hard work these people are doing!” I know a lot of the artists they say the clay, what they are doing, is valuable. Betsy says this helps her stay focused and centered. But Gary’s the one who has experience doing clay. more than I have. Gary, he’s a potter. When he looks at a potter’s cup, he immediately goes to the handle to see how the hand fits it, and also, he’ll put that cup to his lips.

    Gary: The cup and the feel is so important, and the same with the Chawan [tea ware], which of course started out to be a Korean rice bowl, that were incorporated by the early people of Tea, when they got away from Chinese objects. The thought of it was being the epitome of what they were using, given to more wabi and more fundamental pieces of the tea- of more Japanese pieces. I was lucky enough to be introduced to pottery work in Sydney, Australia. I had a great teacher whose name was Ivan McMeekin, and he worked with Bernard Leach in St. Ives in his early days. And he was a friend of Hamada who came to the University of New South Wales and lectured and looked at what he was doing there. I was just very fortunate to be introduced to clay by using a kick wheel, and of course trying to make a cylinder out of a pound of clay, or tea bowl. I was just a beginner, just enough to give me a feel for what’s involved in pottery, in clay, in the work, and an appreciation of the work. 

    TST: Gary, your teacher had direct connections with Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach. Did you meet either of them?

    Gary: No. Ivan McMeekin was a great teacher and I was very fortunate to have some time with him. Some of his pottery was inspired by the Song Dynasty China stoneware that was made for the common people 1000 AD.

    Valerie: with the celadon glaze --- 

    Gary: Celadon glaze, Ivan McMeekin loved that. 

    TST: Was there a museum there, a collection of Song Dynasty pottery?

    Gary: Not there, but in the Philippines, we saw a great collection. In the Song Dynasty time, the Chinese and the Filipinos were trading with each other so you find lots of good Song Dynasty work in the Philippines. 

    TST: Very good to hear your teacher Ivan loved that. Not the ornate, painted with gold, that you’re saying the Japanese got away from and started to appreciate wabi, the style of their own pottery.

    Gary: Yeah, they were using things in tea ceremony that were not only ceramics, but metal as I recall, and the Japanese in their early tea ceremony were using lots of Chinese stuff, but then they got to their own stuff. 

    Valerie: and Rikyu.

    Gary: Yeah, Rikyu, the founder of that school.

    Valerie: Rikyu, the founder of Urasenke. He was the one then that really brough nature into the tea room. It was more austere, not decorative, just like Gary was saying. 

     

    TST: Any more to add about experiences with clay?

    Gary: A memory of Australia years ago, from when I was in New Guinea … Under a house on poles was a woman with her thumb up in the air and a lump of clay on the top of it. She was opening that lump of clay on her thumb, she was centering and opening it up to make something, I assume a bowl. But I will never forget that image of that lady, and God, there are so many ways to do clay!

    Valerie: We aren’t as in touch with our bodies to know what we can really do with them that was the thing I thought about, oh my God, look at that! I think we underestimate the potential. 

    Gary: That is just something that has been in my mind for many years.

     

    End of Part 1 --- to be continued …


    PHOTO CREDIT: Leonard Baca, November 2021 


  • 29 Nov 2021 11:05 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    The Healing Wings Project in Las Cruces is the proud recipient of this year’s Armstrong Grant. This public art sculpture is a creative remembrance to all that has been lost to Covid 19. Nestled in the peaceful courtyard of Josephina’s Old Gate in Mesilla, New Mexico, the art piece is composed of two metal sculptures: a metal tree with barren branches that is quickly filling with ceramic wings and a collection of metal boxes where notes can be left to lost loved ones.

    When the idea of the project was born in March of 2021, our communities had been rocked with the traumatic losses of the pandemic. It became evident that few of us had escaped the innumerable losses of Covid.

    Every community has its stories. In Las Cruces, families gathered outside throughout the long days and nights keeping watch through the hospital windows as loved ones remained in the isolation of the Covid Unit.  Just down the road in El Paso, unable to honor traditional rituals of grief, family members huddled in the stair wells, across from refrigerated trucks serving as temporary morgues, to mourn.    

    Nine months later, we continue to hear stories of complicated and often isolated bereavement in our communities. Several weeks ago, a teacher visited the sculpture, sharing that the students and faculty had lost a beloved teacher to the virus. The school struggles with the loss, having created a mural in honor of their lost faculty member. The teacher expressed a hope that engagement with the Healing Wings Project might provide another outlet to heal.

    The Healing Wings Project is a collaborative venture between the Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces and The Agave Art Coop, to provide a venue and opportunities to groups and individuals to acknowledge their losses by painting individual angel wings and leave messages about their experiences. The Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces has taken on this project as a tribute to its forty-year anniversary.

    The idea for the tree and the memory boxes came from a conversation between myself, the owner of the Agave Art Gallery Wendy Weir, and fellow Potter's Guild member and Agave Artist, Vickie Morrow. The concept was presented to metal artist Josh Switzer, who came up with the designs. 


    Free workshops are offered to community organizations and individuals where they are supported in their bereavement and healing process through artistic expression. Members of the Potters Guild hand make bisque wings which are then fired, and hung on the tree as a memorial. Interestingly, people are much more willing to jump in and paint wings as a group activity. Writing notes for the memory boxes almost always happens privately.  Notes have only been placed in the locked boxes while the open boxes remain empty. 

    The Project’s Dedication on August 26th of 2021 featured traditional prayers and blessings by the Tortugas Pueblo. Pueblo members, like many in New Mexico, have been hard hit by the pandemic. In the ceremony the journey of those who have been lost as well as the paths of those of us left behind were honored.  At the Dedication, members of the Pueblo, civic leaders, health care providers, and residents took part in the first of many wings painting workshops.

    Through the generosity of New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists’ Armstrong Grant, we will be able to expand our community outreach. Free community workshops are scheduled twice a month.  Beginning in January we are resuming on-site workshops with activities scheduled at area healthcare facilities, and senior programs. We are committed to a year of programming that would bring us to September 1, 2022. At that time, we will reevaluate the project.

    Individuals frequently visit the courtyard looking for “the tree.”   This provides an opportunity to provide a brief education on the healing nature of ceramics and encouragement to attend a workshop to create a wing of their own. Education about the project and use of ceramics as emotional expression has been one-on-one conversations initiated by the brochure and word of mouth in the community.  The brochures are distributed by Potters Guild members at art shows and in the gallery.  We have also had articles in many local media.

    We are working on the design for tiles for those donating $200 or above.  We hope to have a dedication of the tiles in the Spring, if Covid cooperates.  Other projects that are being discussed are a writing workshop in the courtyard in the spring, a photo book, and a public exhibit in July of 2022 in collaboration with the Potters' Guild Fire and Fiber Show. 

    As the public art piece evolves with the addition of new wings, in a parallel process our project also expands. We have wings representing participants from Las Cruces, El Paso, Juarez (Mexico), Miami and Albuquerque, including NMPCA. We look forward to providing members of NMPCA future updates as your support has enabled

    this to happen.

    “To hold you must first open your hand to let go.” -Tao

    Kathy Baker

    The Healing Wings Project

    Las Cruces, New Mexico

    Agave Artists Cooperative Gallery is located at 2250 Calle de San Albino, in Mesilla, New Mexico. 

    www.agaveartists.com/healingwings

     

  • 19 Dec 2020 11:43 AM | Judy Nelson-Moore (Administrator)

    The NMPCA has had a blog newsletter since 2010.  There are various subjects authored by a variety of authors, coordinated by webmaster and slip trail editors.  There are a lot of really interesting articles on old blog posts.  We are hoping to have a way to display archived blog posts.  

    In the meantime, please enjoy this new blog.  If you are looking for some specific topic, put a word or two about the topic in the search above and you will find all the blog posts that contain the word(s) you entered in the search.  

  • 17 Dec 2020 5:53 PM | Jacquita Beddo

    Late August 2020 saw a contingent of NMPCA members among ceramics enthusiasts convening for a weekend of workshops at the historic Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu.

    This small group of potters braved the pandemic’s relative lull to venture out to the remote and rustic Ghost Ranch. The natural charms of the ranch’s landscape, along with the promise of exploring new ceramics methods, and the desire to be in community among other ceramists, were irresistible.

    The NM Connections workshop is sponsored by NMPCA every 2 years, and features presentations by local NMPCA ceramic artists. This year, the presenters were members Judy Nelson-Moore, Andrea Pichaida, Joe Bova and Michael Thornton.

    Being mindful of Covid19 protocols, NMPCA kept enrollment for this year’s workshop to a bare minimum, in compliance with social distancing requirements. Face masks were de rigueur.

    Since Ghost Ranch has had to severely curtail it’s programming this year, we were among their few guests at that time. Those familiar with the ranch observed a radical departure from the norm. The ranch’s protocols included: temperature checks on entry, and segregated rooms.  Its dining hall featured hands-off service, and disposable dishes.

    In the hands-on workshops, Judy Nelson-Moore and Andrea Pichaida teamed up for an informative presentation on Paperclay Sculpture. Andrea shared her perspective as an immigrant from Chile, along with her unique approach to sculpture.  Judy shared her vast knowledge of paper clay techniques, and followed up with an illuminating evening slide show of international paperclay artists.


    Joe Bova presented a workshop on altering wheel-thrown forms in a zoomorphic fashion, producing forms he calls Potimals. Joe shared lore from his extensive experience as he demonstrated the techniques he uses in his signature anthropomorphic approach to pottery.

    Michael Thornton presented Naked Raku 2 Ways. Participants prepped the bisque ware they had brought with them for the raku firing, using either of the One-step or Two-step techniques. 

    Michael demonstrated. Dramatic results ensued, as expected from the post-firing reduction!

    Despite intermittent wind and rain, it was a worthwhile and enjoyable weekend of ceramic exploration and community!

  • 19 Oct 2020 5:44 PM | Judy Nelson-Moore (Administrator)

    Frank, our much loved founding member of NMPCA and mentor, model to many clay people in New Mexico has passed away.

    Frank’s ready wit and gentle ways have inspired and guided many of us over the years. His fabulous skill in throwing, including thoughtful consideration of the true function of his pots, is unmatched. He and his wife and fellow clay artist, Luisa Baldinger, glazed the pots to perfection, for beauty and functionality.


    Frank died at home, surrounded by his family, on October 15, 2020.  He was 91 years old.  Here is some information about Frank and his career: 

    Frank held an MA in Fine Art from CSU Los Angeles and taught high school art in California before moving to Santa Fe in 1971, where he established Santa Fe Pottery on historic Guadalupe Street.  Through the years he produced pottery continuously, all with an unerring sense of beautiful form, good design and superb craftsmanship.  He and Luisa collaborated in many ceramic adventures. Together they produced Sunridge Pottery, a line of functional wheel-thrown and slab-made pottery for both the wholesale and retail markets, designed and produced “Santa Fe Lights”, ceramic architectural lighting fixtures, and continued to sell their work in their shop Santa Fe Pottery.  In 2003 they sold the shop.  In his “retirement” Frank continued to spend several hours in the studio each day making his more one-of-a-kind pieces on the wheel and collaborating with Luisa on the glazing and firing. Frank continued to throw work through August 2020. 

    Awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2013, Frank Willett’s work in high fired porcelain and stoneware was recognized in that award as being widely known and respected in the ceramic art community in New Mexico. 

    In addition to the Governor’s Award, he was honored by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2002, was featured in the December 2005 issue of Ceramics Monthly, and was included in the Ceramic Arts Yearbooks 2015.  His work has been shown in numerous invitational and juried shows, including an invitational show in the New Mexico Governor’s Gallery, an invitational show of New Mexico potters at Santa Fe Clay, and, most recently, an exhibit of ceramics, “Critical Chaos”, in conjunction with an NCECA conference, “Critical Santa Fe, a Symposium” in the Gallery at Santa Fe Community College. 

    He has taught wheel throwing classes and has given workshops at several colleges and ceramic educational institutions in the region. He was an active member of the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists (NMPCA) lending his expertise as judge of the Clay Olympics, juror for the Celebration of Clay, lecturing and demonstrating at NMPCA Ghost Ranch workshops,  and showing his pieces in the annual Celebration of Clay Exhibitions.  See a video of Frank’s demonstration of trimming a bowl at Ghost Ranch on the NMPCA YouTube channel.

     
         
    Frank’s Personal Statement
    My pottery has always been functional for use in the kitchen, dining room and household.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with forms.  Staying within the constraint of functionality, the forms are stretched, bent, imprinted with varied textures, enhanced by glazes that break and run over the treated surfaces, and fired either in gas reduction to cone 11 or in soda to cone 11.

    Making new forms is still a driving force; there’s excitement in it.   I enjoy working with clay and have had a pleasant and successful lifetime of playing in the medium.

    The melancholy of post maturity is upon me but I try my best to turn it into humor.

    You can see and purchase Frank’s work as well as the work of his wife, Luisa Baldinger, on their website at www.willettbaldinger.com. Work can be purchased through the website to be shipped or picked up at their Santa Fe Studio. Instructions are on the website to make appointment in advance to pick up work and wear mask.

    Please add a comment to this post to share your memories of Frank.

    7 Replies to “In Memory of Frank Willett, 1929-2020”

    1. jnelsonmoore 10/20/2020 at 5:36 pm

      Frank is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He is greatly missed, but I feel so fortunate to have known him.

    2. Layne Vickers Smith 10/20/2020 at 6:51 pm

      Such a fantastic man, but I can never think of Frank without also thinking of Luisa, his soulmate. Always a pleasure to see one or the other—but to see them together, still flirting with each other, was sizzling.!

    3. amber archer 10/21/2020 at 8:22 am

      my heart goes out to Luisa and blessings to Frank on his journey

    4. Maggie Beyeler 10/21/2020 at 9:14 am

      I first met Frank in 1999 when he and Luisa hired me to work at Santa Fe Pottery. They told me I could bring my dog Ed to work with me and that clinched the deal for me. I spent a couple of great years working for them and I got to know them and their families.
      More recently, Frank and Luisa have joined me and other potters twice a year as participants of the Contemporary Clay Fair. Frank not only brought his wonderful work to the show, but also himself and his friendly humor. I will very much miss seeing him every April and November, for he was also a mentor to me as a potter, and I dare say to most of the potters I know. We love you Frank!

    5. Barbara Harnack 10/21/2020 at 9:37 am

      I have always appreciated the joy and happiness Frank brought to the world with his clay work and kindness. His work along with Luisa, is one of the reasons we wanted to have our Gallery. To show what seasoned and visionary artist can create. He was a delightful human being, who will be greatly missed.

    6. jnelsonmoore 10/26/2020 at 4:04 pm
    7. Barbara Hadley 11/21/2020 at 3:49 pm

      I didn’t really know Frank, but I knew and admired his pottery, and purchased a bowl some years ago that I really loved. Unfortunately, that bowel got broken, but I still have the pieces. For some reason, I can’t bear to throw them away. They are still beautiful, with the wonderful glaze that Luisa does. I keep thinking maybe I can do something with them. I am so sad to know that he is no longer with us, and my thoughts go out to Luisa, his soul mate.

  • 02 Oct 2020 4:34 PM | Jacquita Beddo

    NMPCA’s 2018 Armstrong grant was awarded to The Potters Guild of Los Cruces to assist them in purchasing Chinese porcelain works of art for the ultimate goal of developing a presentation on Chinese ceramics to enhance its understanding and appreciation by students of ceramics art, community art galleries and ceramic art organizations throughout New Mexico. NMPCA’s grant enabled The Potters Guild to purchase representative works of old and new porcelain art pieces while on an educational tour of the porcelain productions regions of China.

         
         
         
         
         

    This tour was led by Professor Glen Schwaiger a Chinese porcelain scholar of Dona Anna Community College. In May 2018 a group of Guild members and DACC students toured the porcelain production regions of China. The NMPCA grant enabled the group to purchase representative works of old and new porcelain art pieces and ship the works of art back to New Mexico. Educational presentations and exhibitions on Chinese porcelain were consequently made throughout New Mexico. In addition to the porcelain ceramics, the travel group took photographs during the trip to tell the story of the porcelain history from ancient times to the present. A grant from New Mexico State University’s Confucius Institute provided funds for matting of images taken during the tour. Both purchased pieces and matted photos enhanced the story and gave more meaning to exhibits and the concomitant presentations.

    Throughout 2019 multiple sized exhibits of the Guild’s China photos and acquired porcelain pieces were exhibited and presented throughout New Mexico especially at the Clovis Community College Art Museum; Dona Ana Community College’s Foyer Gallery; Matrix Fine Art Gallery in Albuquerque and ended the year in Las Cruces at the Tombaugh Gallery in the Unitarian Universalist Church.

    An excellent investment of Armstrong Grant funds!

    By Lee Liggett
  • 09 Aug 2020 12:23 PM | Judy Nelson-Moore (Administrator)

    It’s not all bad news during the current pandemic. One silver lining is the return to New Mexico and NMPCA by Ed Byers and Holden McCurry. Ed & Holden left NM in February 2017 to be closer to family and pursue business opportunities. Missing friends, open sky, plenty of sun and space to roam brought them back last November. You will recall that Ed & Holden have been a ceramics team since 2003. Both are graduates of Auburn University. Both have done post graduate studies in ceramics and fine art painting.


    Their sculptures are made using clay slabs, extrusions and pinched forms often combined with mixed media materials. Texture is created using found objects, handmade ceramic stamps and roulettes. Drawn and painted surfaces incorporate terra sigillata, underglazes, slips, oxides and sgraffito. Mixed-media works combine original silk-printed photography, wood, wire and clay sculpture into wax surfaces. Please welcome back Ed & Holden by visiting their website: www.byersmccurry.com

    Journey Boat, Yellow Chapel with Red Cedar Cross by Byers & McCurry

  • 24 Mar 2020 11:36 AM | Jacquita Beddo

    Svetlana joined the NMPCA in February, 2020. She and her husband moved to Los Alamos in 2019, after living 20 plus years in Michigan. Svetlana is particularly interested in participating in the Celebration of Clay 2020: Perspectives. She very much misses firing in a Soda and Raku kilns.

    I began attending pottery classes in 2012. In 2016 I became a member of the Greater Lansing Potters Guild. After moving to Los Alamos I joined the Fuller Lodge Clay Club. Here I began working with new glazes and lower firing temperatures than what I had been used to in Michigan. This has proven to be and interesting and exciting new adventure for me. I like to work on a wheel and with a slab. I love to decorate my pottery using different techniques.


    As a member of the Greater Lansing Potters’ Guild I fired my pottery in a gas kiln at cone 10. After moving here, I could only fire my pieces in an electrical kiln, at cone 5. I would love to find potters in New Mexico who have access to Soda and Raku kilns.

    In addition to learning all the aspects of lower firing temperatures, my biggest challenges have been getting use to the higher elevations and lack of humidity. Besides pottery, I love to garden and learn about NM culture and art. I look forward to meeting and working with as many members of NMPCA as I can. 

    In addition to learning all the aspects of lower firing temperatures, my biggest challenges have been getting use to the higher elevations and lack of humidity. Besides pottery, I love to garden and learn about NM culture and art. I look forward to meeting and working with as many members of NMPCA as I can.

    Contact Svetlana at skirillova@gmail.com.


  • 02 Feb 2020 1:31 PM | Jacquita Beddo

    On the last day of 2019, 3 potters and one friend gathered at Ghost Ranch to start up the first firing of the moved and remodeled fume kiln at the Ghost Ranch Pinon Pottery Studio. The day was preceded by difficulties. Two weeks previous, on December 13, 7 potters had assembled at the ranch to fire the kiln. The kiln was loaded, and was intended to be fired, but problems developed and the plan was stopped. Before I finish the story, let me go back and give a short history of this kiln prior to December 2019.


    History of Ghost Ranch Fume Kiln

    In the far reaches of history when no one can remember, Jim Kempes and Willard Spence placed hard brick in a circle on a base of cement blocks and brick. They made a lid of metal lined with refractory fiber with a hole in the middle. The original purpose and method of firing for this kiln was unknown until recently when we got this message from Jim Kempes:

    Willard had the idea to build the kiln as a cheap, mid-range temp kiln. The hard bricks were inexpensive and the fiber insulation lid was new, cheap and all the rage. He came up with the cheap burner solution and we built it for two or three hundred dollars? We fired it a few times, and I do remember the temp difference with the top having to be watched. We weren’t really working at the cone six range so it sat waiting to be repurposed. Willard always loved the science of clay and wanted to use local clays and materials as glazes (perlite from the mine by Tres Piedres) and I think that was the reason behind the kiln (and dollars). It was Willard’s baby and I was the labor. Always loved working and learning with Willard. What a potter! Hope this helps.

    Jim Kempes, via email, 2/2/2020

    Along come Barbara Campbell and Judy Nelson-Moore who decide this kiln should be used for low-fire alternative firings…pit firing, low-fire salt, wood, propane burners, etc. Over several seasons, the NMPCA volunteer camp activities included putting fiber blanket around the kiln, adding refractory plaster and cutting burner holes in the sides. Judy had done this kind of firing in Denver in previous years in saggars and called it “fume firing” because of the atmospheric effects made by salt, chemicals and combustibles brought up to temperature. Kind of like raku, except the work is left in the kiln to cool and the reduction materials are fired with the pieces, not placed in them after the firing as in raku. Here is an article about these firings on Judy’s website. Many happy firings were done in the kiln by the NMPCA and other groups.

    Then, in the summer of 2015, a flash flood washed away the Pot Hollow ceramic studio down in the Yeso Creek arroyo. The ceramic studio was rebuilt on higher ground in the Pinon building of Ghost Ranch. NMPCA volunteers carefully dismantled the still-standing Fume Kiln bricks and base, cleaned them off, moved them up to the Pinon kiln yard, rebuilt the base and kiln, reapplied the fiber blanket and plaster. Quick to say but took about 3 years. Now, at the end of 2019, it was ready to test.

       
       

    Back to our story: For the initial test firing after the rebuild, people who had participated in the rebuilding of the kiln were invited to bring work. On December 13, when the kiln was loaded, there was considerable variety in the way different people “packed” their tin-foil saggars. Some added very little in the way of combustibles and chemicals on the theory that “Less is More.” Others added more material in hopes of encouraging more colorful effects. Some used ferric chloride brushed or sprayed on to achieve the red/browns. Copper, cobalt, and iron were also added. Salt in various amounts was added as table-sized crystals, dissolved in water and sprayed on, or sprinkled in the saggar. During the preparation, some of the combustible materials (grasses, shredded wood, banana peels, other natural materials) were soaked in salt and copper carbonate before being dried. All work was wrapped in 1-2 layers of aluminum foil, usually one piece per bundle. The kiln was tumble stacked with one and 1/2 shelves separating the pieces. Here are pictures of the December 13 kiln loading.

    The firing of the rebuilt kiln was started up on December 31, 2019, after considerable effort to prepare the burners with help from Frank Willett and Big Jo’s Hardware. From the start, it was apparent the firing was difficult to control. The kiln jumped 300 degrees in the first 15 minutes necessitating a slow down. Started at 10:45 am, by 1:45 there was considerable fuming out the top. Slowly turning up the burners in small increments enable a temperature of 1330 by 2:15. Looking through the peep holes, it was seen that the tin foil was breaking down in the manner associated with a desirable temperature. Usually this point is reached at a temperature of 1450 or so, but the actual temperature inside the kiln was difficult to judge. Because the firing length of 3.5 hours was deemed minimally long enough and because there had been considerable fuming coming out the top, it was decided to turn the kiln off.

    Unloading of the kiln was delayed until January 6 because of weather and other activities. The firing crew was joined by friends and by Ghost Ranch Jan Term students for the exciting unwrapping.

    Results: The results showed considerable difference in the firing temperature top to bottom, with the top being mostly underfired and the bottom achieving too high a temperature. Work stacked along the outside edge of the shelves impeded air flow which could have added to this problem. In this firing, the “Less is more” principle did not hold, with the most color and pattern being achieved with more materials.

    Conclusions: These are the conclusions of the participants:

    • More materials (combustibles, chemicals) may work better
    • Need more pyrometer holes to be able to judge temperature throughout kiln
    • Need to rearrange bricks under the shelves to encourage more air flow through and up the kiln.
    • Make a chimney, 8″, to put in the top to draw more air up.
    • Make a damper for the chimney and use to control fuming.
    • May need to enlarge the burner holes.

    Aftermath: The people involved in the firing included Barbara Campbell, Judy Nelson-Moore, Luisa Baldinger, Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, JB Bryan, Anne Keener, Penne and Jack Roberts. Frank Willett, Barbara’s friend Tor, Anne’s husband Larry, and some of the Jan term folks gave assistance in various capacities. Even though the firing that was started on December 13 had to be aborted when the burners did not work and was not finished for almost a month, the participants felt that being able to spend an evening at Ghost Ranch in winter with a small group was a sterling experience. Everyone got to really talk to each other, listen and learn, and we all developed a great respect and liking for everyone involved. This resulted in a reunion of firing participants on February 2nd in Santa Fe to discuss the results and celebrate. These types of fun and educational experiences are why we join NMPCA!


    Thank you to Barbara Campbell, Cirrelda Snider-Bryan and Penne Roberts for contributing images to this article.

    by Judy Nelson-Moore

  • 09 Jan 2020 11:58 AM | Jacquita Beddo

    Does your creativity need a jump start? One way to give yourself a shot in the arm is to visit an exhibition. For example, NMPCA member Juanita Dunn’s show last month in Santa Fe was an inspiration to many.

    Clay artists especially appreciated the techniques and inspiration behind “Heads of States,” the first public display of Juanita’s imaginative ceramic portrait sculptures now showing at Alumbramos Art Gallery on Canyon Road. The show opened November 29.

    Fifteen sculptures—nine men and six women—represent different ethnicities and heads of states ranging from a leader of an empire or a family circle or a prison. Most of her inspiration comes from faces she finds in old photographs and her love of rich fabrics and ornamentation which she recreates in clay. She sculpts in paper clay using coils and slabs. She applies texture, multiple layers of underglaze, glaze and final finishes. Many are fired six to eight times.

    “This show was inspired by the many ways a ‘Head of State’ can be identified or imagined,” said Juanita. “Many times there are special head gears, hats, ribbons, hair ornaments, clothing or other accessories that signify special status. I spend many hours in construction and finishing and I want each one to stand as a unique individual with their own personality.’’

    In the display, an Elizabethan queen wears real pearls in her head dress; an impish Nordic peasant wears a headdress of sticks and twigs, a Turkana woman’s clay fish atop her head. By contrast, the fierce Generalissimo needs no special ornamentation to show his strength as head of state.” Other characters include a Venetian cleric and shaman, German brewmaster, cocky Frenchman, and a clown who resembles one associated with well-known burger chain.

    Which are her favorites? She confesses, “I just love old wrinkly men. They have so much character.”

    But she admits the smooth-faced old Nordic peasant captivates her.” Juanita’s college roommate sent her an old photograph that inspired the creation of a woman with the sticks and twigs for a hat.

    “She’s my latest creation and the last thing I create is always my favorite. Isn’t that always the case?”

    The Alumbramos Art Gallery, 901 B Canyon Road, is across from The Tea House. Owner Beatriz Posada can be reached at 505-469-3346. Most of the work from Juanita’s show remains to be seen at the gallery into the first months of 2020, even though the show closed at the end of December.

    The author of this article, Layne Vickers Smith, is a long-time NMPCA member and former board member. As membership chair she recruited Juanita Dunn to join when both were enrolled in a Day of the Dead workshop at Santa Fe Clay.




    by Layne Vickers Smith

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