New Membership Database with Exciting Changes

Great news! We've recently upgraded to a new membership database that will make it easier to connect to our hundreds of clay lovers across the state. This means two changes you as a member should know about:

·        Your membership is now yearly.
Previously, your membership was for the calendar year. That meant that regardless of when you signed up (January 1st 2017 or July 14th 2017) your membership only lasted through the end of the calendar year (December 31st 2017). That was confusing and frustrating for members and management alike, so we found a better solution!
Whatever date you purchased your membership in 2018 (January 1st 2018 or July 14th 2018), your membership will remain current for 1 year after that date (till December 31st 2018 or July 13th 2019). You will get a couple reminder emails before your membership expires so you can renew on time.

·        Everyone has their own membership profile.
Click this link to access your profile: https://www.joinit.org/o/washington-clay-arts-association/members
Once you're there, you can enter the email address you used to sign up for your WCA membership and choose your password. On your profile, you can update your contact info and renew your membership. You and the WCA Board are the only people who can see this profile.

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Meet a Member: Sherry Kirk

Name:  Sherry Kirk

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Years working with clay: 8 years
Type of work made (sculpture, pottery, etc): Mostly functional ware, also some beads, brooches, buttons & baubles.
What region of the state do you live in? 30 minutes outside of Olympia
Describe your process and materials: Most of my work is handthrown from mid-range stoneware.  I do some handbuilding and have recently started making jewelry components.
What is your favorite tool?  A tiny wooden spork.
Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: Vinegar instead of slip for attaching stuff.

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When and/or how did you get started working with clay? After I retired from the Army I wanted something completely different so I went to school for art.  The pottery ate my soul and hasn't given it back yet.

How has your practice change over time? I'm constantly pushing myself to try new things and to improve my skills.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Did this influence your work at all? Active army for 21 & 1/2 years.  I think my background helps with my time management and focus.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay?  Just try it, it's only clay.

What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity or being an artist? Listen to criticism and then decide whether it's valid or not.

What inspires you?  Making functional vessels that people fall in love with.

How do you prepare to make your work? Drawing, research, etc. Research online and then sketch out basic shapes.

Where do you feel most inspired? The ocean.

What venues do you use for sales? Which are most successful? Etsy and local vending events.  I do best when I sell my work in person.  I love to share my excitement about functional art work and to establish personal connections with my customers.

Was any of your work inspired by a custom order or a special request, or has customer feedback played a role in the development of any of your work? Absolutely.  Some of my favorite designs were inspired by requests and me pushing my skill set to see if I could make the shapes or designs.

What social media platforms do you use and which are your most successful/favorite? Facebook, Instagram.  I love Facebook!

What is your best marketing tip? Do marketing consistently.

What is your most popular item or what is your favorite item to make? Anything with an octopus on it.

 

2017 WCA Scholarship Recap with John Brooks

Last year we held our first annual WCA Scholarship - a chance for a member to be awarded a $500 scholarship to take a class of their choosing related to clay.  John Brooks received the scholarship, and he wrote an article to share what he learned!  Thank you John for sharing your experience! We are still accepting applications for our scholarship for 2018 - be sure to check it out and apply!

 Details of Soda on a piece by john Brooks

Details of Soda on a piece by john Brooks

   Hello! My name is John Brooks. I am a studio potter living in Olympia, Washington. I have been working in clay for sixteen years and earned my BFA in ceramics at the University of South Dakota.  Six years ago I moved out to the PNW to pursue my ceramics career.
    I was so excited to discover the incredible WCA - what a wonderful community of clay folks!  Setting up one’s own studio is a fun yet daunting task, and there can be so many things to figure out.  It’s so great to have such a vast network of people that are so knowledgeable and friendly. The more we all can work together, the better it is for everyone.
    On top of being such an amazing organization, the WCA has a scholarship program, geared to helping Washington clay artists improve their practice.  I was so humbled and ecstatic to receive the WCA Scholarship this last year which allowed me to attend a soda firing workshop with Damian Grava, as well as purchasing clay and glaze materials to test in a soda vapor atmosphere.
  

 Damian Grava and his up-cycled downdraft conversion soda kiln

Damian Grava and his up-cycled downdraft conversion soda kiln

Since working primarily out of my own studio I have been firing cone 6 electric, but had been really missing firing with atmospheric surfaces. In undergrad I fired gas and wood frequently and had experimented a little with a humble re-purposed electric updraft soda kiln dubbed “Rocket Boy”. Firing cone 6 electric was a whole new game. I do enjoy firing electric, but it is undeniable the pure thrill of magic one feels when firing a soda kiln.  So many variables are different.  The form of the object must be considered for soda, not only in consideration for the way the fire will wrap around it and the soda blasting it when introduced, but also the proximity of that object with its surrounding ceramic companions.  Depending on placement, one can affect flash marks on raw or slipped clay bodies. The process of identifying the various properties of the clay and how they determine the interaction with slip, glaze, and vapors in the kiln. I would like to build my own soda kiln in order to explore these variables more in depth.

Damian’s workshop was a dynamite immersion in throwing, geometry of clay bodies, slip work, firing, loading styles, and kiln construction techniques. In addition to learning how to make, load, and fire pots in a soda kiln, we were able to study and fire Damian’s up-cycled downdraft conversion kiln.  It is a soft brick electric kiln body, with all the elements removed, an additional floor built with burner ports and a brick chimney.  I was most excited to see how he had constructed his kiln. It is a much less expensive option for building a soda kiln and until I can save enough for an all brick kiln this is the best route to go.
   

 soda details on a piece with a breadtag texture

soda details on a piece with a breadtag texture

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I was also able to soda fire some of this work created from the WCA scholarship with Chase Lilleholm at Pottery Northwest in their cross draft soda kiln.  It was incredible being able to see a similar process in 2 different kilns and compare.  The up-cycled downdraft kiln was a little smaller, and fired in reduction. Lots of soda ash build up, with bright intense flashing of reds, oranges on the clay bodies. The cross draft was fired in oxidation and then reduction cooled at the end.  This created a juicy bluish green hue where the soda had built up, with softer blushes of pale pinks, oranges, purples and yellows, also lots of white/cream surfaces.
    One major misconception I had was thinking soda went through the kiln like fly ash in a wood firing.  The ash flows with the flame, working tightly through all the pots, much as water flowing through a river flows through the rocks.  However, the difference in a soda firing it seems, is that the soda combusts and creates almost a smog that hits the front loads but won't aggressively fight through the kiln, usually choosing the path of least resistance.  By giving vessels more space in the kiln, staggering the height by wadding, or crowns, posts or tumble stacking, one may have fewer pieces, but more dynamic pots with a wide ranges of surface, from heavily blasted soda to brilliant flash marks.
    It is the unknown that entices me, to explore all the variables, to really see what the materials can do, often learning by what they can’t do.  I was really happy with many of my pieces but more importantly was able to take away the experience of making, loading, glazing, and firing in a soda kiln.  Being able to fire and absorb so much information has given me the experience and confidence to build my own soda kiln.  I can't stress enough how invaluable this opportunity was for me as an artist. My work deals with using a variety of common household objects to create rich, in-depth textured patterns and designs.  I believe these surfaces are greatly enhanced by the vapor effects of a soda kiln.
    I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience without the WCA Scholarship, and I am so grateful for everything I have learned through it.  I highly encourage any WCA member to apply for the scholarship this year, it is an amazing opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.

 details of mug with household item textures and soda

details of mug with household item textures and soda

One major misconception I had was thinking soda went through the kiln like fly ash in a wood firing.  The ash flows with the flame, working tightly through all the pots, much as water flowing through a river flows through the rocks.  However, the difference in a soda firing it seems, is that the soda combusts and creates almost a smog that hits the front loads but won't aggressively fight through the kiln, usually choosing the path of least resistance.  By giving vessels more space in the kiln, staggering the height by wadding, or crowns, posts or tumble stacking, one may have fewer pieces, but more dynamic pots with a wide ranges of surface, from heavily blasted soda to brilliant flash marks.
    It is the unknown that entices me, to explore all the variables, to really see what the materials can do, often learning by what they can’t do.  I was really happy with many of my pieces but more importantly was able to take away the experience of making, loading, glazing, and firing in a soda kiln.  Being able to fire and absorb so much information has given me the experience and confidence to build my own soda kiln.  I can't stress enough how invaluable this opportunity was for me as an artist. My work deals with using a variety of common household objects to create rich, in-depth textured patterns and designs.  I believe these surfaces are greatly enhanced by the vapor effects of a soda kiln.
    I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience without the WCA Scholarship, and I am so grateful for everything I have learned through it.  I highly encourage any WCA member to apply for the scholarship this year, it is an amazing opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.

Meet a Member: Jenn Gavlin

Welcome to our next installment of Meet a Member! This time we are going to introduce Jenn Gavlin!

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Name: Jenn Gavlin

Years working with clay: Oh boy, I got interested in clay in high school. Our art class had two wheels that we took turns on, and I came in after school to play. Then in college, I minored in art in order to get into ceramics classes. So I guess that makes almost 20 years of clay with some breaks when I didn't have access. I've been more consistent with it since I started teaching in 2008.
Type of work made (sculpture, pottery, etc): Mostly functional pottery, but the occasional sculpture
What region of the state do you live in? Seattle proper, teach in Kirkland and Bellevue
 

 

Describe your process and materials: Most pieces start on the wheel, but I've been enjoying playing more with slip casting after making myself a couple molds. I work almost exclusively with porcelain and would love to focus more on my illuminated pieces, but they're a harder sell than a good ol' mug.
What is your favorite tool? I cannot survive without a mudtool rubber rib, yellow or red. Close runners up, though, are my bison studio trimming tools; while an investment, they make porcelain trimming so much smoother.
Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: Compression and magic water have become my survival mechanisms for dealing with porcelain attachments. Magic water is sodium silicate, soda ash, and water. I don't know the ratio as I steal it from where I teach. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

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Maker focused:

How do you prepare to make your work? Drawing, research, etc. I've fallen in love with instagram. I am so inspired by seeing the things other people are making and their processes. It makes me want to spend more time in the studio just experimenting. Sometimes I draw, but mostly I try things on clay. I try to take at least a month out of the year for "play time", usually after the holidays, with no set agenda.

Where do you feel most inspired? That's impossible. I mean, I regularly inspect dishes at restaurants. One of my longest running bowl styles was originally inspired by a dish at crate and barrel. The questions my students ask will send me down research rabbit holes. I was convinced I would be adding curving, archy lines to everything after seeing an art nouveau exhibit. I started a line of jewelry based on leaves on neighborhood walks. Instagram is my motivational crack. And one of my designs literally came from the Portlandia sketch "put a bird on it". 

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What is your favorite tool? DoI get another? Then I'll add in a shout out for diamond core tool carving tools. There are my favorite for sgraffito and mishima and carving translucent porcelain.

What are your favorite forms to make and why? For the longest time, this has been teapots. They're still up there, but I also love making lamps. I love the challenge of going big and thin with porcelain (ok, love/hate). Since they take a while, there isn't a lot of repetition with form or surface - less boredom. And they're a good exercise in managing disappointment. If you carve through on a lamp once it's too dry, it's just done. The porcelain will always remember the crack past a certain point, so it's better to trash it and start over. It's just an object, which is an important mantra to remember.

What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity?One of my colleagues and I had a discussion about the word "just" that's stuck with me ever since. We were talking about it in the context of teaching, and she said "I've worked really hard to cut the word 'just' out of my teaching vocabulary. It's easy to slip into the habit of saying 'just push the clay this way' or 'just hold your hands in this position' as a stand in for "simply", but when you're first learning, there's nothing simple about it." I feel like that applies to a lot of things, including creativity, and we really need to watch out not to put unnecessary expectations on ourselves. Creativity takes as much work, trial, error, and gradual successes, as anything else. There is no "just do it" and happy accidents are always a result of all the unhappy accidents that came before.

Meet a Member: Stephen Mickey

Welcome to this next installment of Meet a Member! 

In this post, we will meet Stephen Mickey! Thank you Stephen for sharing a bit more about yourself!

Name: Stephen Mickey

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Years working with clay: 50 years
Type of work made: Pots for the kitchen
What region of the state do you live in? Southwest Washington, Clark County
Describe your process and materials: I work with a variety of kilns that include a new hybrid bourry box(fired once this fall with good results. I also use a cross draft soda gas fired kiln and an early model Geil 12 cubic feet updaft /downdraft
What is your favorite tool? My Leach wheel
Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: I teach one hand throwing.

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Background: When and/or how did you get started working with clay? I started working in clay at the University of Minnesota as a premed major. One look at my instructor, David Standard, making a pot change my life and I said “that’s it, that is how I want to spend my life.” My sponsors i.e. my folks were not impressed, feeling that medicine would a better choice for a livelihood. They may have been right but I have not looked back and I got to catch of few babies a long the way. 

How has your practice change over time? For most of my life I have been teaching full time and only in the last 5 years since stopping public service at Mt. Hood Community College have I had access to my studio daily as I wanted. 

What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Did this influence your work at all? As a college instructor student provide such a deep reservoir of ideas to share and bounce around with. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay? Showing up is 90% of the struggle

What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity or being an artist? From Stephen DeStabler “ I believe in inspiration but I believe in being in the studio when it strikes”

What inspires you?  My family, Nature and great pots. 

Maker Info:

How do you prepare to make your work? Drawing, research, etc. I’ll start with a making list usually and let the work guide me and focus my attention on particulars 

Where do you feel most inspired? In the studio when the flow is right 

What is your favorite tool?  My Leach Wheel

What are your favorite forms to make and why? bowls , tea bowls and altered bottle forms

What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity? I believe in inspiration but I believe in being in the studio when it strikes”

Business: 

What venues do you use for sales? Which are most successful? Mostly my holiday sale at my studio.I also take pots with me to sell while I am offering workshops. I usually take Yunomis and little whiskey cups to these events. I’m doing workshops in Hawaii at the Donkey Mill Art Center this February and am teaching for two weeks at laMeridiana in Tuscany for the first 2 weeks of May.  This year I was invited to the St.Croix Valley Potters Tour  which was a terrific sale . Very educated pottery buyers, Now that I am in the studio more I need to find another outlet for sales. I’m going to add a spring sale at home. 

What social media platforms do you use and which are your most successful/favorite? I use Instagram (@stephenmickeypottery),email and Facebook mostly as an amateur. I know there is a lot of room for more creative use.

What is your best marketing tip? Make what you love, educate your clients about what it is you do and why . A newsletter on a regular basis helps people stay interested in you and your work. 

What is your most popular item or what is your favorite item to make? My wood fired tea bowls give me the most pleasure to make and to finish

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Butternut Squash and Sundried Tomato Soup Recipe

Congrats to Rupa Palasmudram and Vickie Sanders for their winning soup entries at our Winter Social soup cook off competition!

Dreaming of a warm, colorful soup to warm up during our gray winter? Look no further and start with Rupa's Butternut Squash and Sundried tomato soup. 

Butternut Squash and Sundried Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
 1 Large Butternut Squash
 ½ Cup of Sundried Tomatoes
 1 Large Chopped Onion
 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
 ½ Cup of Heavy Cream
 ½ tsp Ginger Root Powder
 1 tsp Curry Powder
 ¾ tsp Cumin Powder
 ¼ tsp Turmeric
 2 Tbsp Butter/Oil
 Salt and Pepper to Taste
 Parsley to Garnish


Directions:
1. Cut the butternut squash into large chunks and remove the seeds. Place cut-side
down in the baking tray and pour enough water to fill ¼ inch of the tray. Bake in a
preheated oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until soft.
2. In a large pan, add butter/oil and chopped garlic. Heat on low until the garlic
releases its aroma.
3. Add chopped onions and sauté until tender.
4. Add sundried tomatoes and the spices, and cook on low heat, stirring frequently
for one minute.
5. Scoop the soft flesh of the squash and add to the pan. Add water and bring to a
boil.
6. Remove from heat and blend until smooth, using an immersion blender. Adjust
water until you reach the desired consistency.
7. Place the pot back on the heat and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to
taste.
8. Add cream, garnish with parsley, and serve hot.

Meet a Member: Amy Popelka

Welcome to the next installment of Meet a Member! In this issue, meet Amy Popelka from Bellingham! 

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Name: Amy Popelka
Years working with clay: I have been working as a ceramic tile artist for three years. 
Type of Work: Tiles are my main passion, although I will throw in some planters and vases to
shake it up. 
Location: I have lived in Bellingham Washington for 12 years now, it is a pretty fantastic town for artistic inspiration and is highly supportive of the arts. 
 What is your favorite tool? My favorite tool is probably my slab roller, it would be much more
time consuming to roll clay out nice and flat without it.  Also, my tile cutters are a real time
saver and keep my tiles looking nice and flat. 

What is your favorite tool? My favorite tool is probably my slab roller, it would be much more
time consuming to roll clay out nice and flat without it.  Also, my tile cutters are a real time
saver and keep my tiles looking nice and flat. 
Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: I found if you adhere some thin foam to the top of
my cutters, I can cut my clay immediately after rolling it out.  The foam paper makes it so
that the clay does not stick to the metal plunger.  
What venues do you use for sales? I am just getting started on the craft fair circuit.  Last
year I did the clay extravaganza, San Juan Island lavender festival, La Conner Art's
Alive, and Allied Arts holiday fair.  I hope to do all these again this following year, plus a
few more. 
What social media platforms do you use and which are your most successful/favorite? My work is featured on Facebook as Tac Tile Company, instagram as @tac_tile, and I have an etsy
shop called Tac Tile Shop.  I am not doing any real online sales at the moment, but
enjoy using instagram the most to keep up with other artists and people also making
tiles.  I feel it's a great platform for people from all over the world to view your art.  I also
have a website www.tactilecompany.com . 
Was any of your work inspired by a custom order or a special request, or has customer feedback
played a role in the development of any of your work?
I love doing custom orders for people
because it is always something new that I may not have done otherwise. 
What is your most popular item or what is your favorite item to make? I did a set of gingko leaf tiles for my Mother's bathroom and loved them so much I continue making them all the
time.  My most popular pieces tend to be a wave set that I make.  I love creating the
sunset by hand on each one of those to make each sunset truly unique.

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Meet a Member: Brenda Lovie

Welcome to our next installment of Meet a Member! 

We are featuring Brenda Lovie - co-president of the WCA! Read on to learn a little bit more about her and her work.

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Name: Brenda Lovie

Years working with clay: 10 years

Type of work: Functional and Sculptural

What region of the state do you live: Whidbey Island

Describe your process and materials: For functional work I throw on the wheel and alter by hand. Lately I’ve been using porcelain and terra cotta. I recently learned how to make plaster molds and am looking forward to experimenting with slip casting.

What is your favorite tool: I love all my hand carving tools, especially the little loop carving tools. I also like to use garment pattern making tools as well as French curves and rulers.

How practice changed over time: I used to only wheel throw. Now I love to experiment with hand building vessels as well as sculptural pieces. I love to take classes and learn new tricks and techniques.

When/How did you get started in clay: When I was 9 years old, I went with my mother to a community

college studio to pick up some fired work that she and my father had made. I remember seeing all the wheels and people making stuff. I knew right then that one day I had to do it. 10 years ago, while living in NJ, a neighbor invited me to take a pottery class. I was hooked! (she stopped after a few classes)

What jobs have you had other than being an artist: After attending the Fashion Institute ofTechnology in NYC, I worked as a fashion designer. Soon after my first proper job I started my own business designing and manufacturing ice skating and dance costumes. I am also a Professional Figure Skater and have coached ice skating most of my adult life.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay: The one thing that stands out in my mind is, you can’t rush clay. Impatience has been and still is an important lesson for me to learn.

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What is the best advice you’ve received about creativity: Make what you love and not what you think people want to see.

What inspires you: I am inspired by color, patterns and texture in textiles. I also like architecture and the geometry of things.

 

 

 

Clay Art Center in Tacoma - Under New Management

We are excited to share an article written by WCA Member Elinor Maroney about Clay Art Center's new ownership by Quinn Brougher!

 Quinn Brougher in front of Clay Art Center 

Quinn Brougher in front of Clay Art Center 

Clay Art Center in Tacoma – Under New Management

By Elinor Maroney

When I stopped in to buy clay for a class in a senior housing center a few weeks ago, Quinn happened to be behind the counter that day. I had seen and admired his pottery at the Puyallup Fair a few years ago and asked, “Where are you selling our pottery now?”

“I really haven’t touched clay for a couple years.”

“Oh, why is that?”

“Well, I got married a couple years ago and then I bought this business.”

I think my mouth dropped open. “This business?”

“Yes, Joe and Kim had been here a long time and were ready to let it go.”

It turns out Quinn Brougher had finalized the paperwork just a few months before and is still in the process of finding out just how it all works.

Part I: The next time I was in Tacoma I interviewed Quinn in order to inform the pottery public about the change.

EM - How did you come to pottery as a career path?

QB I did a couple years of college at Evergreen in Olympia but didn’t know what I wanted to do so dropped out and later went back to Olympic Community College and found myself skipping all my other classes so I could spend time in the pottery. When I found a “Help Wanted “ ad from Clay Art Center I applied and got a job. I started learning all there was to the business of clay – got my college education right here! Joe and Kim were patient and good teachers. I started learning about clay bodies and glaze chemicals at Clay Art Center with excellent mentors and teachers.

EM How long ago was that?

QB - I started here about 2005 – so 12 years ago. I worked here and learned “on the job” for the next 2 ½ years. Then Joe got a phone call from Bliss Pottery in Anchorage. They needed a production potter. He asked me if that’s what I wanted to do and after an hour on the phone I agreed to work there for a while. I drove up the AlCan Highway to Anchorage and enjoyed throwing pots for 2 years – another great learning experience.

EM - How did you end up back here?

QB - The glaze tech told me he was leaving and maybe I could come back and take his job. After another hour on the phone, I was on my way back to Tacoma. A bit of a problem as I didn’t know chemistry. Oh, well, that can be overcome. I was the glaze tech for the next couple years. I learned a lot from my great teachers!

EM How about a little of the history of CAC?

QB - I understand that Joe and Kim bought out a small pottery supply business that used to be on Pacific Highway in order to buy supplies for making their own pottery which was selling pretty well – like at the Puyallup Fair every year. Well, it didn’t take long for the business of selling clay and supplies took over and they didn’t have time to make pottery themselves anymore.

They bought a bigger building to house the business about 1984 and added warehouses later for storage and clay and glaze mixing. They have been quietly planning for this transition of ownership for a couple years. And Prepping Quinn to take it over.

My wife Val and I have bought a house in Tacoma now and are settling in.

EM – Any changes made in personnel? Any employees held over?

QB - The truck driver, Matt Anderson, knows the area and is still employed. Cruz Rojas, the clay maker and the warehouse man Clayton Woolard, are staying on for continuity. Larry Douglas comes from Olympia every day to take care of the computer needs at CAC. He has been a steady and consistent presence. I have hired two new employees to fill in where needed.

EM - Are you planning any major changes or making plans for the future we should know about?

QB - At this point I am hoping to continue the customer service that Joe and Kim worked so hard to keep up and maintain the quality control over our products.

EM – Thanks Quinn. I know that is why potters are willing to drive extra miles to purchase supplies here in Tacoma.

LATE NEWS FLASH! Quinn and his wife just had their first child – a girl born December 24th named Charlise.

Part II: Telephone Interviews with Joe Brecha and Kim Lyle:

Original partners: Interviews with Joe Brecha who lives in (and commuted from) Elma, west of Olympia where he is enjoying (and getting used to) retirement. And Kim Lyle who lives in Tacoma. I’m sure both of them are thinking about making pottery again.

John and Belva Bull had a craft supply and gallery space in Tacoma in the 70’s where Joe and Kim worked right out of college. They did craft fairs and sold in local markets and were paid to make production pottery for the Bull’s retail gallery. Joe was still doing craft fairs until the late ‘90’s.

They helped to keep things going when John Bull who was a Boeing engineer was out of work and when he returned to work and wanted to pass off the business it was reasonable to have Joe and Kim “partner up” and take it over. The two of them started mixing clay in a rented warehouse and continued to make pots to sell to make a living. They mixed glazes, learned to make clay; as each experience was conquered they started on a new one. They

kept adding one thing at a time as they learned the business. When they needed help, they added employees until they had a going concern.

When the building they were in came up for sale in the early 80’s, they searched till they found the building on Pioneer – one large warehouse where they could make clay and do anything they wanted. They turned the “mud pit” in the back yard into another warehouse in later years as their needs expanded. They bought delivery trucks and expanded their reach across the Northwest with contacts in Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, and Oregon as well as Washington. As their employees moved on and became teachers they purchased clay and supplies from CAC and passed the word. Local art departments in colleges and high schools ordered their year’s supply of clay, equipment and glaze materials from CAC.

The children of Joe and Kim all worked at Clay Art Center through high school and into their adult years though none of them continues in clay. I think both Kim and Joe will get back to working in clay in the near future. They are both enjoying a period of “retirement” and making plans for the future – whatever it may hold.

Contact Information:

Clay Art Center

2636 Pioneer Way E

Tacoma, WA 98404

253-922-5342

fax 253-922-5349

800-952-8030 www.clayartcenter.net

“For all your Pottery and Ceramic needs.”

Business Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00am-5:30pm; Saturday 10:00am – 2:00pm.

 

Check their web site for January Specials and featured products.

CAC shares a list of clay classes and places to get your firings done around the South Sound area. 

Meet a Member: Briggs Shore

Welcome to our next installment of "Meet a Member"! We are excited to introduce Briggs!

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Name: Briggs Shore


Years working with clay: About 10 as a hobby, and about 3 taking it seriously


Type of work made (sculpture, pottery, etc): Wheel thrown dinner ware and functional pots


What region of the state do you live in? Whidbey Island


Describe your process and materials: I use mid-fire porcelain (mostly Laguna ^5 Frost), and a variety of colored slips for decoration. My work all starts on the wheel, gets trimmed and smoothed, and then I incise lines in simple patterns. These lines get filled with black or dark slip then cleaned up with a metal rib to look sharp. Then, I'll brush colored slip on the inside and foot of the pot and sign the bottom. After bisque, I spend some extra time sanding to make sure all the surfaces are very smooth and any slip smudges are cleaned up. Glazing is a simple coat of clear inside and out. I fire to ^6 in an electric kiln. A quick clean and bottom sanding after they come out of the kiln, then they're done!

 

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What is your favorite tool? A steel pen I found in a machine shop years ago. It's what I use to sign my pots and the tip is very sharp, but not thin like a needle. I love it.


Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: After you learn the basics, the clay is your best teacher. Making a piece is a give and take process, especially when you're working with porcelain which definitely has its own ideas about what it can and can't do.

Background focused: 
When and/or how did you get started working with clay?  I remember the first time I saw someone throw a pot on a wheel. I was 5 and it looked like magic. I don't remember the first time I got to finally try throwing, but I knew it would be my life's passion in college when I just couldn't stop taking ceramics classes despite my Interior Design major. I've had a number of teachers, but not one specific mentor. I've found places to work in clay in each city I've lived in, treating it as a hobby or side project for a number of years as I pursued other careers. In 2015, a friend encouraged me to have a booth at her group's craft show. Soon after, I found the Ceramics Center in Cedar Rapids IA, and they invited me to become a Resident Artist. It wasn't till around this time that I realized that I could make this my profession, and started seriously applying to shows. The last few years have been moderately successful, and I'm so very grateful that I've been able to focus on something I love so much.


How has your practice change over time? I've been in a lot of different studios with different rules about what types of clay and glazes can be used. In all of them, I've tried my best to create work in my own style. Thinking back, I'm kind of pleased that I've been so true to my aesthetic for so long. While I've explored differences in shape and form, my look has always been very clean with simple color block or line designs. I feel like I'm searching for the perfect form, and each new studio environment has given me a new opportunity to find it.


What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Did this influence your work at all? In college, I waited tables to pay my living expenses. I got an Interior Design degree in 2007, tried designing kitchens and baths for a couple years, then moved on to managing a non-profit. When the funding ran out there, I went back to waiting tables. I worked as a graphic designer for a couple years, then when I was obligated to move across the state, went back to waiting tables. My life and career has been a roller coaster. I'm very grateful that I found serving early in life and actually find it a wonderful partnership with my studio work. At my restaurants, I'm sociable and outgoing, and always moving quickly. At my studio, I'm quiet and introverted and move slowly and thoughtfully. Also, serving pays well and has allowed me a measure of financial stability I didn't have in entry-level jobs. Always tip your servers 20%. We work hard for it.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay? That thing I said above about the clay being your best teacher. I really wish I remember where I heard it first, but I definitely took it to heart. You have to pay really close attention to what the clay is telling you. Push just a little to hard, or move too abruptly and it will not give you the result you want. This way, you learn to feel every minor bump and wobble in the turning clay, and learn how to thin and smooth them.

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What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity or being an artist? I actually just got my favorite piece of advise from a friend this morning: You are your own boss. You decide what day is a studio day, which pieces are good enough to sell, and how hard to push yourself. This was both comforting because it gave me permission to take a day off when I wasn't feeling well, and really sobering because it reminded me that my success is totally dependent on me.


What inspires you? I actually don't think I'm inspired as much as I'm motivated. I feel like I've been on the same journey working toward the same perfection of form for a lot of years now, and that motivation has never waned. When people talk about inspiration, they're usually talking about getting new ideas, but I feel like I've been chasing the same big idea my whole career, and I think I might chase it for the rest of my life. For some people that might sound exhausting, but for me it sounds comforting. I just want to keep my hands in the soft clay and inch it closer and closer toward the perfect shape and surface, a little better every year.

We want to Meet Our Members!

The WCA is excited to promote our members! if you would like to be featured on our website and in the newsletter, please take a few minutes to fill out the information below. The top set are required, then choose at least one full set of additional questions to answer. You can fill out more than one set if so inclined. Submit all of the information, along with two shots of your work and a head shot to info@washingtonclayarts.org

Required questions
Name: 
Years working with clay: 
Type of work made (sculpture, pottery, etc): 
What region of the state do you live in? 
Describe your process and materials: 
What is your favorite tool? 
Please share your favorite clay tips or trick:

Please choose at least one set to answer: 
Background focused: 
When and/or how did you get started working with clay? 
How has your practice change over time? 
What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Did this influence your work at all? 
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay? 
What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity or being an artist? 
What inspires you?

Maker focused: 
How do you prepare to make your work? Drawing, research, etc. 
Where do you feel most inspired? 
What is your favorite tool? 
What are your favorite forms to make and why? 
What’s the best advice you ever gotten about creativity?

Business focused: 
What venues do you use for sales? Which are most successful? 
Was any of your work inspired by a custom order or a special request, or has customer feedback played a role in the development of any of your work? 
What social media platforms do you use and which are your most successful/favorite? 
What is your best marketing tip? 
What is your most popular item or what is your favorite item to make?

Meet a Member: Anita Feng

Welcome to our second installment of "Meet a Member!" 

One of the perks of being a member of the WCA is being promoted through our association.  We love being able to highlight our wonderful members! If you would like to be featured on our website and in the newsletter, join our Facebook Members Only Forum & Classifieds Group! Find the questionnaire in our pinned post. Fill it out & send it to us at info@washingtonclayarts.org. We look forward to hearing more about you! 

Meet Anita Feng! 

Name: Anita Feng
Years working with clay: 42
Type of work made (sculpture, pottery, etc): sculpture, musical instruments
What region of the state do you live in? King County, Issaquah


Describe your process and materials: Nowadays I specialize in raku fired sculptures.  I use either a combination of thrown and altered and hand-sculpted parts, or entirely hand-formed. I used the traditional technique for pulling handles to create clouds and waves. For skin surfaces I use either a terra sigilatta or a raku patina.

What is your favorite tool? Direct contact (i.e.- hands!)


Please share your favorite clay tips or trick: 1) I like to make a mix of 50% sawdust and 50% clay slip to make wonderfully textured hair and beards.  


When and/or how did you get started working with clay? One day, in 1974, I went to a friend's apartment in Cambridge, MA for tea and as we were sitting there I noticed a handmade clay fish on her kitchen wall.  It wasn't a matter of seeing a handmade object for the first time--I had grown up accompanying my mother to art shows where she exhibited her work. My life had been surrounded by creative works of all kinds. Yet that one clay fish triggered such a passion in me that I abandoned my studies in Russian Literature, signed up for a beginner's class in wheel-throwing. Within the space of a year I gathered my meager savings, moved to Maine, set up my own studio and began a career of making musical instruments out of clay (ocarinas, drums and horns mainly). 


What jobs have you had other than being an artist? Did this influence your work at all? 

I have two other jobs, writer and Zen teacher, both of which have earned me very little in terms of income, but have provided enormous richness in terms of quality and purpose. As a writer toying with shape and symmetry in language, I'm able to explore expressions without the physically exhausting work of clay.  The creative discoveries I make in writing directly influence, whether intended or not, the sculptures that I make in my studio.  And visa versa. Both are expression of momentary reality.  

 

As a teacher, the encouragements and reminders that I offer my students are also, necessarily, applied to myself. As a teacher of meditation, all of the tools I offer to develop presence of mind help me in the studio as I confront those daily doubts and quandaries of working with and listening to clay.  In fact, I feel that my work with clay has probably taught me more about Zen than the other way around sometimes.  


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given working with clay?  This will probably sound completely Zen-like, but it would be patience, paying close attention to what the clay, the world and the heart is saying.

To see more of Anita's work, visit her website http://anitafeng.com/

Meet a Member: Jennifer Yates

 Welcome to our first issue of "Meet a Member!" 

The WCA is excited to promote our members! If you would like to be featured on our website and in the newsletter, join our Facebook Members Only Forum & Classifieds Group! Find the questionnaire in our pinned post. Fill it out & send it to us at info@washingtonclayarts.org. We look forward to hearing more about you! 

Meet Jennifer Yates!

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Name: Jennifer A. Yates

Years Working in Clay: 26 years getten’ dirty

Type of Work Made: Functional Wheel thrown, sculpted Anagama Fired Porcelain "Form with Function"

Where do you live? Island County, Whidbey Island

Favorite Tool: Kiln is my favorite tool - atmoshperic (I love firing with a group of women at the big butt Anagama)

Trick/Tip: Love it or Leave it

How did you get your start? I started in eighth grade. Fell in love with clay.  Majored it in college, learned about industry through a summer apprenticeship. 

Art jobs:  Studio Assistant for six full time potters, Ceramic technician at a college, Substitute teacher for pottery instructor at a college, Fired kilns for a few businesses, Taught wheel throwing, tile making for a business, running my own fine art business and teaching pottery/metals for over 16 years.

Advice:  Gotta love doing it or you won't be happy. A costly medium

Inspiration: Mother nature, boats, food service, kids I teach

Most inspiration comes on the water boating or in the forest or looking at things under a microscope or loupe

Favorite forms: Thrown on the potter’s wheel then cut and sculpt. Meditation with throwing and creating one of a kind work from that, showing/creating fine art is important to me. I realized I did not want to be a production potter since I felt like a factory worker, was losing my inspiration by trying to survive and I really missed people. I made a major change and became a full-time teacher where I get a lot of inspiration from others and I could go back to the studio creating what I wanted instead of what I had to survive.

I always tell my students to create from what inspires them in life.  Likes interests.  What you live for, symbols that reflect that.

Many pieces are inspired by custom orders and shows with a theme.  It makes me think outside my box and I like this!  In the past few years I began studying mycology and that has had a major influence on my designs.

Marketing?  The smartest thing I've ever done is bridal registration.  I was getting checks as I was creating and many times with full dinnerware sets the order became bigger than intended.

Other marketing tips:  Either make your work for others/orders or make it for yourself and try to sell it.  Figure out how you want to make your income and what makes you the happiest.

Most popular items are bowls and cups, everyone wants one.  My favorite are to create boats and bowls. I've learned from living in different parts of the country that potters on the west coast are significantly under-appreciated and valued by the general public, which in my professional opinion stems from lack of art education with the public through k-12 public school art programs

To view more of Jennifer's work, visit her website: http://www.yatesfinearts.com

A Survey of Selling Your Work

WCA member Chris Nielsen sent us this message containing a survey about selling your work.  This looks like it could gather some interesting data, check it out below! 

 

Dear WCA members—I’m curious how other people market their work and how they’re doing. I’ve put together a short survey and would appreciate responses. It’s obviously self-selecting and unscientific, but it could still be interesting. I’ll compile responses in an anonymous, numerical way and share the results. If I only get a few it won’t be informative, and in that case I’ll just report that without going into the details. Note that I’d also like to know if people do not sell.

By way of background to this, I moved to Shoreline in 2005 after having been in the Oregon Potters’ Association for ten years. OPA’s annual Ceramic Showcase was a big focus of its work, and involved a lot of very professional potters. I’m only semi-professional, probably like most of us. I’ve had work in a number of galleries in this area and Portland, and in several regular sales. Both galleries and sales have come and gone over the years, and my sense is that selling opportunities aren’t what they used to be. I’ve even wondered if pottery is going out of fashion—maybe it’s a boomer-hippie thing? What’s your impression?

Please email your response to chris@cwnielsen.us .

Survey questions:

 Do you sell your work? (If not, please say so and respond, and skip the rest of the survey)

Where do you sell your work? Note all that apply.

o   Galleries (details optional)

o   Sales sponsored by organizations or other businesses (details optional again)

o   Studio sales

o   Online

o   Other (__________)

  1. Which of these generates the most income for you?

  2. Do you consider pottery sales to be an important source of your income?

  3. Have your sales been increasing, decreasing, or staying about the same over the last few years? Say if you don’t know.

  4. How about your sales venues?

  5. Have you made efforts in the last few years to expand your selling opportunities? How?

Thanks for participating,

Chris Nielsen

Please email your response to chris@cwnielsen.us .

Project Canary

Have you heard about Project Canary?  It was originally one of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective's projects for National Clay Week, and the organization had hoped to call attention to these issues and the real life people affected by them, before the election, and they have decided to keep going with it since the election.

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What Project Canary is About: The extreme and misguided decisions politicians make have real life repercussions. From "bathroom bills", twenty week abortion bans to laws that make justice nearly impossible for victims of police brutality, people’s lives are gravely impacted.  Media coverage might tell part of the story but often the stories of those whose lives are negatively impacted by these policies don’t have the privilege of telling their story. Project Canary honors the experience above the rhetoric by connecting people to each other through their individual untold stories.

On their website projectcanary.org they are collecting stories of real life instances of injustice.  Each story is stored on the site with an individual number.  Artists can then go online, read and make objects inspired by the stories.  They ask that you inscribe the story number and tag with a Project Canary tag before abandoning your art to be found by a stranger.  The tag will lead them to the website, ask that they read the story that inspired the object, read other stories and maybe even leave their own.  They can then upload a picture tagging #projectcanaryfind on social media.  

Next action: January 20, Inauguration day

Many of the objects being made for Project Canary are ceramic, and we hope to organize a small hands-on object making session, potentially at our Winter Social.


Find out more by checking out these links:
Our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/projectcanary  and Instagram: @projectcanary.
Website: projectcanary.org

SECC Blog Wrap Up of Project Canary: https://sociallyengagedcraftcollective.org/2016/10/24/project-canary-wrap-up/