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  • 25 May 2024 10:59 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Summer of 2022, Brant Palley and Cirrelda Snider were asked to co-teach one of the NM Connections workshops at our NMPCA Ghost Ranch weekend, “Using Stains and Oxides in Clay.” Alas, he needed major surgery, so was unable to participate. Cirrelda interviewed him to get info for the stains and oxides handout, and he wrote his own bio to be included. Here the handout format has been removed, and the interview that actually happened is presented. Brant is happy to have this information shared to a wider audience than the participants at that past Ghost Ranch retreat. 

    The Slip Trail (TST): Brant, please tell us about yourself.

    Brant Palley: Owner of New Mexico Clay since 1985. Ceramic artist graduated Otis Art Institute 1979 (LA). Clay body designer, Webmaster of nmclay.com, kiln expert, and, head floor sweeper. Started with Art at a young age as my Dad taught at UNM in the 50’s and they collected Indian Art including some fantastic Acoma pottery that I have seen every day. We were dragged to museums in Europe and saw a lot of art.  In high school I had a great pottery teacher, and then at UC Irvine when super bored with psychology classes, started taking pottery and painting. Went to Otis Art Institute in downtown Los Angeles where, in the decade before, ceramics school was begun by Peter Voulkos in the 1950s and was part of art movements like the Craft-to-Art movement, also known as the American Clay RevolutionMove to NM 1985. “Ceramic King” then “NM Clay” on Girard now for 38 years. Brant worked at his uncle’s art gallery Reese Palley’s where they sold figures from Boehm and Cybus,  Brant was responsible for shipping and handling and delivering fragile porcelains.

    Brant at his desk at New Mexico Clay.

    TST: Tell what you know about oxides. Tell us about adding oxides to slips.

    Brant: Oxides are elements, all elements have different properties, like melting point, cobalt and titanium are very refractory, where iron and copper are not.

    TST: And adding oxides to water? 

    Brant: Will not reliably stick to clay body as stains. Oxides are refractive [melt at higher temps.]

    TST: Then what about firing oxides? 

    Brant: Each are different. 

    TST: Clay Bodies - all? 

    Brant: Generally, oxides are not as sensitive as stains, but may change color in the presence of other fluxes like sodium and boron. Changing composition of clay body affects the oxide’s performance.

    TST: Safety important when using oxides? 

    Brant: Each are different. 

    TST: Here’s another tangent about oxides — have you seen trends in usage? 

    Brant: Usage is down except iron wash, more products available for potters makes glaze-making less necessary. Only the “geeky” want to be making own glazes now.

    For example: Iron oxide -- different ones melt at different temperatures vs cobalt oxide – refractory higher melting point.

    TST: Now we turn to stains. What about adding stains to slips? 

    Brant: Should be body stains, if stain rule is #1 on Mason Chart. For example, 6000 Shell Pink used as body stain comes out white … needs Ca carbonate [Calcium carbonate].

    TST: Adding stains to water? 

    Brant: Will not reliably stick as stains are refractive.

    TST: Firing? 

    Brant: See rules 2-4 on Mason Color Chart 

    https://www.masoncolor.com/ceramic-stains

    TST: Clay Bodies - all? 

    Brant: Same as slips. [Pure white is recommended.]

    TST: Safety? 

    Brant: Don’t inhale, yes to gloves if mixing.

    Brant checking out an old container of stain in the back room of New Mexico Clay.

    TST: History of Stains - any personal anecdotes? 

    Brant: Early experiences with crystal glazes; the high soda-zinc glazes change some colors dramatically, Nickle blue anyone?

    TST: Use of stains rose w/ Duncan Cover Coat in the 70s? Or earlier? 

    Brant: Stains were made for the tile industry, not potters. We just get the sloppy seconds…

    TST: Was Duncan the first to use Mason Stains for a glaze “line”? 

    Brant: Yes. … Duncan, then Mayco, Laguna’s Moroccan Sand, then everyone popped out. Only the geeky are making their own glazes nowadays. NM Clay was top seller of Duncan. We used to sell to 80 other stores, now to 2. Duncan had a room full of ball mills (vs. blenders). 


    Mason Color photo of ball mills, https://www.masoncolor.com/mason-color-history

    “Mason Color Works was founded in 1842 as Bleak Place Color Works in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England by James and Mary Skerratt Mason. Mary was a well-known color chemist who developed many of the inorganic pigments which are still used in the whiteware industry today.” Son “F.Q.” moved in 1902 to East Liverpool, Ohio, “Pottery Capitol of the World.” Read more at website https://www.masoncolor.com/mason-color-history.

    Mason Color Factory photo, https://www.masoncolor.com/mason-color-history

    Reds in glaze color were difficult to come by. 

    More from Brant: The Environ-vent was invented for Lead based red glazes because of their need for good oxygen in firing.  

    From digitalfire: https://digitalfire.com/glossary/ceramic+stain

    “Encapsulated stains were introduced by Cerdec-Degussa (also called inclusion stains) are a special class of man-made pigments that enable bright and difficult-to-achieve colors in ceramic glazes (especially reds and oranges). Encapsulated stains are made by special processes that 'coat' the individual particles (i.e. cadmium) with silica or zirconium. In this way they can be suspended in a melt with minimal dissolution of the harmful metals into the glass. These stains are very expensive, must be used in larger amounts, and come with lengthy safety data sheets and must be used according to instructions. Like regular stains, they are intended to be incorporated into engobe or glaze recipes, not used as a straight powder. These are a recent development in glaze technology, and, many companies that hesitated to use them in the past now use encapsulated stains in their biggest-selling products.”

    Cover-Coats were unceremoniously dropped by Mayco. Other underglaze brands include Amaco Velvets, Amaco LUG’s, Coyote, Spectrum and Mayco’s Foundations.

    __________________________________________

    Tips on Using the Mason Color Chart*

    Charts were given to all participants of the 2022 workshop, courtesy of Mason Color Works!!

    https://www.masoncolor.com/reference-guide

    •Reference numbers under color swatches

    6000 Crimsons                     6400 Yellows

    6100 Browns                        6500 Grays

    6200 Greens                         6600 Blacks

    6300 Blues / Violets

    •Numbers under color name refer to 

    % of stain / % of Opacifier (Zn:zinc base glaze)

    “Body Stains” need reference numbers 1, 3, 6.

    •Inside flap list includes oxide combinations.

    •Mason Color Works:

    https://www.masoncolor.com/ceramic-stains

    •On NM Clay website:

    https://nmclay.com/potters-material-chemicals/mason-stains

    •Archived Formulas for colors not available

    Mason reduced number of pigments from 160-100.

    https://www.masoncolor.com/archived-formulas

     6000 Shell Pink used as body stain comes out white … needs Ca carbonate.

    MS6020 Pink Manganese Alumina oxides are Al & Mn, and its reference numbers are: 1,3. 

    Mason stains are made to be combined!

  • 16 Feb 2024 1:28 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Every year when we launch the Bill Armstrong Grant there’s an urge to know more about the man the grant was named after. Bill Armstrong was a founding member of New Mexico Potters Association (the original name of the organization) in the early 1970s. After he passed away, the organization established a grant to award ceramic education programs in his name. 

    The award was begun in 2002 according to Daisy Kates, who, with Penne Roberts, administered the grant from 2002 through 2018. Michael Thornton took over the grant administration in 2019. 2005 is the earliest grant listed on the website. Just one grant is not on that list – “2002: Healthcare for the Homeless, Artstreet, Downtown Albuquerque.” This means that Bill Armstrong must have passed before 2002. 

    Internet searches still do not reveal an obituary. Many longtime NMPCA members were contacted, asking for their memories about Bill. No one could remember the year he died. But a few folks shared anecdotes! 

    Pam Seigal, who moved away from ABQ to Eugene, Oregon in 2012, but was a member of NMPA in the early days, had this to say about Bill: “I was under the impression that Bill bequeathed some funds in his will toward a grant fund. Bill and I traveled to Europe together for the Dutch Potters Exchange. Bill set up the whole affair. I had organized their housing when they came to New Mexico. That was 1991. We took them out to the end of Southern Blvd. in Rio Rancho where there was no sign of civilization. That impressed our Dutch visitors. Also drive-throughs – they don’t have a car culture like we do. But much earlier, Bill and I were two of the originators of NMPA, when I served as president, he was vice president. Then he became president.”

    Judith Richey shared her memories about Bill Armstrong in December of 2022: “I would say yes, Bill was one of the founding members of NM Potters Association. I don’t remember what year he died. He was instrumental in getting meetings held at Ghost Ranch, as well as contacting people to do workshops at the Ranch. Amazing in that respect. He was a very kind fellow, very generous, and he had a wealth of info to share. We were very lucky to have had his help. Very big on Ghost Ranch. From very early on, he was arranging workshop leaders. He valued people. When I went to Ghost Ranch, it was to attend the Potters Association workshops.  When we all got together, the camaraderie was wonderful. Last time I saw Bill and his wife, it was at a Mexican restaurant on 4th street. Really glad to know him. A really giving person.” 

    Mary Sharp Davis shared this about Bill in 2023.  “Bill Armstrong? I miss him. He was a draw-string type of person. It was easy for him to get a hands-on group together for potters. He was willing to share whatever it was he knew. He was generous, jovial, welcoming. If you were looking for a glaze, he would give you his glaze recipe.”

    Cirrelda Snider-Bryan recollects: “I am looking through an incomplete set of old Slip Trails and can’t find when he died nor an article explaining that the grant would be named after him. However, I did read many an old editorial that he wrote, like this one at the top of the March 1984 NMPA Newsletter. I took Primitive Fired Pottery seminar taught by Jim Kempes and him at Ghost Ranch in 1989. Bill was there leading with Jim as we visited several digging spots to collect from deposits for use as either clay or slip. Especially remembered was the vein on highway 85 overlooking the Chama River, about ten miles south of the Ranch, at that iconic view. The Ranch van parked in the pull-out parking area, and we crossed the highway to a band of dark maroon that proved later to be a great slip. I had already known Bill from attending the Ou Mie Shou workshop on Chinese brush painting sponsored by NMPA in 1984. His wife Mary also took that multiple Saturday workshop held at the Albuquerque Zoo in the Reptile and Amphibian Hall with the renowned Chinese artist who had lived in Albuquerque for decades since leaving China after WWII. Then, there is this description of 1986 seminar offered at Ghost Ranch a few years in a row, with Bill in the list of instructors, which I wish I would have signed up for!” 


    Penne Roberts did not remember when Bill died either. She shared: “Bill Armstrong was very instrumental with the Heights Community Center’s pottery studio for its first twenty years. Until the City changed it. They didn’t understand pottery, and remodeled the building, didn’t pay attention to our feedback. The great thing about pottery is you don’t have to be structured. All get inspiration from each other. Conversations were really good, philosophical. Really, really good.”

    Penne also shared generously of her set of photo albums that document clay happenings in New Mexico from the mid-seventies on. Let’s revel in these photos with their great captions, to get a sense of the variety of activities he was involved with and instigated. We can sense who this great leader from New Mexico Potters beginnings was, from all of these photos:


    Penne sharing from one of her photo archives at her home in Albuquerque, 2023. Photo: Cirrelda SB.



    Bill in center, white hair and plaid shirt. Tonque Brick factory field trip he organized. Photo: Penne Roberts

    Bill, right, and geologist, left, inspecting the clay deposit at Tonque Brick Factory in Tonque Wash. Photo: Penne Roberts


    Two geologists at the Tonque Brick pile. Early 1980s. Photo: Penne Roberts.


        

    1981 Raku kiln building workshop at Bill Armstrong’s Corrales home. Photos: Penne Roberts  


    1981 Raku kiln building and firing at Bill Armstrong’s – Mary and Bill on right, Daisy Kates front center. Photo: Penne Roberts.


     

    Left: UNM Clay, Fiber, Wood Show program, organized by Bill Armstrong, 1984. Right: Tile conjunto by Bill Armstrong. Photos: Penne Roberts.

    One person recommended talking to another while researching Bill Armstrong’s NMPA contributions for this article. Thanks to Penne, Judith, Mary, Pam, for helping us see how well Bill Armstrong connected folks in the early decades of our organization. From the Dutch Potters Exchange, to engaging UNM Ceramics Faculty and exhibits, creating workshops with renowned clay artists from near and far, strengthening the relationship with Ghost Ranch Conference Center, to making the connection for the community with hands-on firing and clay deposit digging – his legacy now lives on in the long list of ceramics education projects supported under his name.

    ¡Bill Armstrong, presente!  

    ---Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, editor

    --Please send stories of Bill to editor: sliptrail@nmpotters.org --

    Armstrong Grant 2023 Summary

    By Michael Thornton, Armstrong Grant Administrator

    This year two organizations answered the call for proposals for NMPCA’s Bill Armstrong Grant.  

    After due consideration and site visits to meet the applicants, the board voted unanimously to approve both proposals. 

    Congratulations to Art Smart NM, and Thrive Community School, both of Santa Fe, on your worthy projects!

    Art Smart’s project is helping to fund an artist residency, which brings artist Jarrett West to instruct students in art. The grant will impact 60 2nd and 3rd grade students at Sweeny Elementary School. The grant will fund necessary materials, tools and support for this project to include travel for field trips, and the construction of a permanent outdoor installation. 

    The project at Thrive Community School will benefit 250 K - 7th students by providing materials and tools needed for ceramics lessons. 

    Students will participate in exhibitions planned to share their artwork at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the International Folk Art Museum. 

    NMPCA is proud to support these projects, as it fulfills our mission to promote education in the ceramic art. 

    More will be shared here after reports about the schools’ projects come back.

  • 07 Feb 2024 8:52 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    This Meet the Member on the Slip Trail blog is in honor of member Rob King’s recent selection as a 2024 NCECA Emerging Artist. 

    How does it feel to be selected to be a 2024 NCECA Emerging Artist?

    Oh my goodness! What an incredible honor. It feels really nice to know that others enjoy seeing the world through my eyes. I’m excited to continue to build my support system in clay and to share my passion for these materials, the precious ground beneath our feet, with the world and this platform will allow that on such a grand scale. So, to answer the question, overwhelmed and grateful.

    How did you first get interested in clay?

    I first got interested in clay after seeing a video of someone throwing on the wheel. I think it may have been the Great Pottery Throwdown (haha!). It seemed like a really fun and dynamic process and I couldn’t stop watching videos of people doing it. I mentioned my newfound fascination to my brother and he said that his girlfriend had a pottery wheel in storage so I begged him to bring it to me. He obliged and I absolutely fell in love with the process. I think within a month, I had a kiln and a whole setup in my garage. 

    Describe your studio.

    My studio is a converted garage. It is a very basic setup but enough for what I need to create and teach. It stays messier than it should but I’m trying to be better about that. I particularly love how the space changes with the seasons. Right now, with winter in full force, it feels very intimate, quiet, womb-like. I create a lot in the winter and don’t teach but, in a few months, I’ll open the space up and students and visitors and sunlight will pour in, the studio will expand to include the high desert surrounding it which, of course, is a completely different feel. 


    "Via Combusta 1" by Rob King

    Describe your work.

    I think that when I am making good work, it feels very timeless and contains the essence of this incredible place we inhabit. I utilize local resources extensively in my work, local clay, minerals, rocks, sand, wood ash as I feel that this connects the work to place, to me, to both of our histories. 


    "There is Fear There, Yes" by Rob King

    When you are not working in your studio, what do you enjoy?

    Running the studio keeps me very busy but when I get some downtime, you can usually find me reading in my big comfy pink chair or going for a hike (I really love being outdoors) or visiting friends or a gallery or museum. Lately, much of my non-studio time has been spent planning and executing the opening of my new gallery space in Galisteo, NM, Duende Gallery, which is set to open in April 2024. It will feature my work as well as rotating exhibitions featuring New Mexico artists of all mediums.  

    Do you play music in your studio? If yes, what do you listen to?

    Sometimes, yes. It depends on my mood and the studio’s mood. Occasionally, I just like to work with the ambient sounds of the studio and the noises of nature. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, particularly when I’m doing the more mundane studio tasks (e.g. recycling clay, cleaning, trimming dinnerware, etc). If it’s a music in the studio day, it could be anything from Indigenous flute music to Neil Young to Wagner to Kurt Vile to George Jones. 


    What other pottery do you have in your home?

    I have some traditional Acoma pottery and a few special pieces from friends that I really treasure.

    What caused you to join NMPCA?

    I feel that clay is such a powerful tool for healing and expression, it certainly has been for me. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with others?

    -Rob King, February 7, 2024.

    Congratulations, Rob! Thank you for sharing your answers with your clay community for the Meet the Member column.


  • 28 Dec 2023 2:49 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Slip Trail editor shares notes, photos, memories from the James Watkins Ghost Ranch Workshop – August 18-20, 2023.

    I got to the Ranch a day early to get a campsite, and thus was able to be there when James Watkins first arrived to Piñon Pottery Studio. He had left his home in Lubbock at 4:30 am, in his large extended cab pickup with trailer, transporting himself, his wife and her mother – they arrived around noon on Friday. After not being able to fit through the west entrance to Piñon, he drove his truck and trailer around the north/back side, which ended up providing the perfect space to accommodate all the containers of his large vessels as well as firing equipment and supplies under the ample portal. Our teacher had come very well-prepared.


    Array of distinctive clay works by James Watkins. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.

    Classroom 2, already set up with slide projector and rows of chairs, became the ‘gallery’ as a number of us participants carried in piece after piece of the huge, gorgeous wares. After 3 pm, when it seemed all participants were gathered, James Watkins began his slide show introduction to our weekend. 

    Watkins began his presentation with a piece he described as having a “deep, gun metal black.” 3M tape was used to mask off design, and sticky-backed paper made especially for bisque ware. James’s comment, “You collect memories,” led us into his broad overview.


    James Watkins addresses participants at the beginning of the workshop. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B. 

    He began by sharing the trajectory with his clay practice: 1978-1983 Mackenzie Terrace Pottery Center in Lubbock, TX. 1983-2018 he taught Architectural Ceramics at Texas Tech. Since 2018, his own studio is his nexus: JCW Clayworks at Junction Center. Thus, he has been 34 years in Junction, TX. 

    Of his influences, he shared, “Wide open spaces of Lubbock!” He collects dust from dust storms to make terra sigilatta slips. He collects clay from canyons and deserts to experiment with textures. 

    Another influence are the pictographs near the Mexico border around Langtry, TX. He took students there for two days of camping, telling them no copying of the pictographs allowed. His “Rattlesnake Canyon platters” were influenced by this place. 

    More influences were shared: “Covered jars influenced by cotton gin. Luster inspired by sunsets. Copper black. Martial arts training concept: “relaxation and explosiveness.” Another influence was crafted after a vessel his grandmother made “soap” (food) in - soap (pronounced 'saw-oop') big black urns. Then, vessels using the “cattle feeder” shape. Vessels were also inspired by field furrows. Tiles were created by James to echo irrigation circles and playa lakes.

    Watkins also had influences from his travels. In 1994, he traveled to Japan, “East meets West.” It was during his Artist in Residency there that the double walled platters, Raku-fired, began. Tea bowls were created and anagama kiln-fired, with no glazes. 

    During another trip, this time to Hong Kong in 2001-2, he produced his “Shinto Toru Gates” piece. They were created after wrapping with toilet paper, then fired to cone 017, with hold for one hour. More influences came from Hong Kong bamboo scaffolding. Another trip was made to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in 2004. 

    Along the way, a number of books have been published, including Alternative Kilns and Firing Techniques: Pit, Barrel, Raku, Saggar (2004)*.

    In 2018 he retired to put energy into his studio. 

    A far-ranging lecture, we had just been given the background for all the methods we would be introduced to over the weekend. 

     

    "Black on Black" pieces wrapped in toilet paper, loaded into JW's canister. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.

    Friday evening "Black on Black" firing with Michael Thornton checking pyrometer. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.

    Black on Black activity

    Friday evening, we had our first activity – Black on Black – like the very first piece he showed in the slide show. We took a bisque fired piece or two we had brought with us and applied slip and auto detailing tape. After applying terra sig, we burnished with plastic bag, then wrapped with TP up to 1” thick. After binding with masking tape, the pieces were piled into James’s own round metal firing bin with lid that he’d brought. The big bin went into gas kiln, and was fired to 1500 degrees F. All of us mingled in the kiln yard while the gas kiln was started, then monitored, and shut off after reaching 1500 degrees. (Leonard and Cirrelda paid a visit to Barbara Campbell up at Long House where her son had just gotten married, to see if she had any advice to lend about the gas kiln. ;)

    "Black on Black" pieces after being unwrapped. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.  

    Saturday morning first thing after breakfast, we unloaded the Black on Black pieces that were nicely cooled down.

    Naked Raku activity

    Next up was the Naked Raku Activity. (See p. 39 for Terra Sigillata slip recipe in Watkins’ book *Alternative Kilns and Firing Techniques.)

    Peel Away Slip bin with Lee Akins. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B. 

    We used same Terra Sig slip as last night for Raku. With the addition of a Peel Away Slip “dip” right before firing (recipe on the plastic bin: Fire Clay 60, EPK 20, Silica 15). Slipped pots awaiting firing were placed on a table, then we went to lunch. 

    Throwing Demo

    After breaking for lunch, we paused the firings for a bit to watch James throw a double-walled pot. JW: “I imagine there’s a hole in the center of that bat, and that I’m trying to push clay into that hole.”

    James Watkins throwing a double-walled vessel. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B. 

    He shared story of discovering double wall from his dream. “Takes a few days to throw very large bowls – wait til it gets stiff.” James slowly finished the double wall vessel on wheel – over 3 hours – draped plastic over during lunch break. Methodical. Conveying anecdotes along the slow throwing process.    

    Raku

    Then it was time to do the Raku firings. We used the small Raku kiln under porch roof, and did around 10 firings of 6 pieces average at a time. We got caught up in the thrill of Raku. Lee Akins and Leonard Baca dedicated much time to help these firings happen.

    Jennifer Stewart bringing her dipped pieces to the kiln. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B. 

    Naked Raku. Photo: Kathleen Allen.

    Naked Raku pieces by Sharon Brush, Charlotte Ownby. Photo: Kathleen Allen.

    Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, participants set off with their fresh "NM SOL" cone 10 clay (from New Mexico Clay in Albuquerque), many taking advantage of the 15 wheels that were available to throw on, though a few folks did some hand-building, too. 

    Left: David Blackwell. Center: James Watkins. Right: Sharon Brush & Sheryl Zacharia. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.


    Throwing double wall forms. Left to right: Michael Thornton, Christiane Couvert, Brant Palley, Joan Eichelberger. Photo: Cirrelda Snider-B.

    Saggar with stannous chloride

    After dinner, we were introduced to the final Activity -- Saggar with stannous chloride (mask needed!) and myriad coverings, including lichen, etc. Each participant concocted their own personal applications on multiple pieces, ending with tightly wrapped foil. Then we each personally loaded our foil bundles on the growing heap of individual saggars inside the gas kiln again. 

    Stannous chloride sagger-fired pieces by Cate McClain. Photo: Kathleen Allen. 

    The kiln was lit and the firing began as we hung around with new and old friends, deep in conversations as the pyrometers registered climbing temps, and finally reached the 1500 degrees again. 

    After a delicious breakfast together on Day 3, we unloaded Saggar pieces. Group photo shot in front of gas kiln. Made our good-byes, as James and family had to make the long drive back to Lubbock. Then of course, we relished the clean up!


    Group photo by Leonard Baca.

    Photo album from the workshop viewable here.

    --Solidarity, Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.

    Grateful for help from Kathleen Allen, Charlotte Ownby, Brant Palley, Michael Thornton in reviewing this article. 


  • 05 Dec 2023 7:52 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    By Judy Nelson-Moore

    With an interview by Slip Trail editor Cirrelda Snider-Bryan on October 11, 2023 

    Judy Nelson-Moore:  It is difficult to decide where to start my story about my involvement in the NMPCA. Should I start with attending the New Mexico Potters Ghost Ranch workshops in the late 1980s while living in Denver?  Should I start with when I became a member of the NMPCA board after moving to Santa Fe about 32 years ago?  …

    Wherever I start, this story about me is also about the NMPCA and its growth, expansion, and success over the last 25 years.  I have been a player in this success, having served on the board for 20 years and in various capacities on committees.  I am proud of what we have accomplished and extremely grateful for the friendships I have gained from long-standing and recent introductions.  If I were to mention the names of all the friends I have made it would nearly make for a roster of members.   These friendships have enriched my life immeasurably, and I can’t imagine my life without them now.   

    The greatest observation I can make about the NMPCA, if I take a long view, is the increased quality and variety of ceramic art expression exhibited by members.  If you come to each of the exhibitions put on by the NMPCA for 20 years, as I did, this fact becomes very apparent.  New members have brought in new forms of expression, workshops have encouraged ideas and excellence, and individual members have put forth their best efforts to improve their work. 

     The Slip Trail: You talk about the greatest observation you can make about the NMPCA being “increased quality and variety of ceramic art.” Within that context, please discuss your history with the Celebration of Clay, the annual exhibition.

    Judy Nelson-Moore: NM Potters, for a time, held their annual member shows at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, with the name “Celebration of Clay.” Here is the flyer for the 2003 show, for which I was an award juror. Elaine Biery won Best of Show that year, and you can see the pictures of other awards. There was never an overt jurying process in those early Celebrations of Clay. Members were notified of the show, and if any pieces were ever rejected, I didn’t know about it. It was mainly organized in Albuquerque with Kathy Cyman and others. 

     

    Celebration of Clay 2003 flyer. 

    Not too long after, the annual exhibition moved to the Albuquerque Arts Alliance Gallery, where Cricket Appel, then president of the NMPCA, was also the director of the Albuquerque Arts Alliance.  The Arts Alliance had a gallery with their office, and we started showing there. And at that time, we overtly discussed it would not be a juried show. I was mainly in favor of that because I had had two previous experiences with craft organizations where juried exhibitions created a poisonous bitterness.  In one case, the organization died because the acrimony devolved into disinterest. I felt the NMPCA should not have the same fate!  NMPCA should be very inclusive. The whole purpose of our organization was to build up the ceramic arts and encourage artists. From my previous experience, I felt a juried show was contrary to that purpose. Fortunately, many of the other members agreed.  Several years later, I was validated by learning that renowned artist and teacher Robert Henri, who worked with Edgar Hewitt in 1917 during the founding of the Museum of New Mexico, implemented an open-door policy for the exhibitions without jurying because he felt judgments were the antithesis of creativity and artist’s development.  

    From Robert Henri, The Art Spirit, published in 1923:

    “…To struggle for an open forum for exhibition without the control of juries, and for greater opportunity all, for self-education…. there will grow new and wonderful things”

    I’ve long fought for what I called “the self-juried show.” I said each artist should submit their work to the Celebration of Clay, where they can imagine themselves standing at the opening, having their picture taken, and feeling proud of their submittal. I call that “self-jurying.”  Over the years, the NMPCA’s conduct of their annual exhibition has proven the success of the “self-juried” show concept ... We had some difficulty finding venues who would accept the idea early on, but the venues realized a quality show could still be staged because we had demonstrated it for many years. You can look at specific artist’s work from years ago and then look at their work now, and you can see a fabulous progression. 

    The Slip Trail: How was the Clay Community back in 1992 here in New Mexico, especially Santa Fe when you moved there. Was it more fragmented? The reason I ask that is because in your outline you state there was a Santa Fe Potters Guild and at one point it merged with NM Potters and Clay Artists (at that time it was just called New Mexico Potters). What’s the story about Santa Fe Potters Guild merging with NM Potters? 

    Judy Nelson-Moore: When I first came to Santa Fe in 1992, I was really very busy with my computer software consulting business, I was doing a lot of travel.  My husband, Jim, and I were also building a house.  Of course, the house has a wonderful clay art studio!  At this time, I also continued working with paper clay.  This is adding paper pulp to the clay body to increase the dry strength.  I have been exploring this concept ever since with my own work and conducting workshops. 

    However, I was struggling with integrating into the community in Santa Fe, partly because I was traveling a lot and missed the ceramic art community in Denver.  There, we had a very active community of ceramic artists; I was a member of the Colorado Potters Guild, a very close group.  I found in Santa Fe there was a Santa Fe Potters Guild which held meetings and sales.  I joined and since I was a computer software specialist, I did their email list.  However, I found the atmosphere in Santa Fe at the time was kind of standoffish.  Artists were protective of their techniques and opportunities because of the great competition.  There were so many artists. It seems there’s much space in Santa Fe for art, but there was a lot of competition for the opportunities. It still is that way. At Denver galleries, you could do better as a Santa Fe artist than you could in Santa Fe as a Santa Fe artist. Something about an out-of-town artist has a draw for galleries.

    A fellow Santa Fe Potters Guild member and I, Jay Dirago, decided we would like a more open, sharing atmosphere.   So, we started an informal group called The Clay Salon. We would invite clay artists into a studio, his studio, my studio, and other studios followed.  We would gather around in a circle, and we would exchange ideas. We shared glaze recipes, inspiration, tools, working methods, and gallery contacts: the idea was to share ceramic art experiences.  

    I also continued to be a member of the New Mexico Potters.  (I had been a member for years from Colorado.) Gary Carlson (NM Potters president at the time) talked me into doing the email list for the NM Potters.  So, I was doing the email list for the Santa Fe Potters Guild, our Clay Salon, and the New Mexico Potters.  The Santa Fe Clay Guild folded, and I told everyone I was not going to maintain overlapping lists anymore, so I told people they should just join the New Mexico Potters.  Most people did, and we continued to hold the Clay Salon in Santa Fe, even having some people join us from Albuquerque.  I see the Zoom Clay Connections which we started during COVID-19 as a continuation of the impetus to share ceramic art experiences, expanded to the whole membership around the state.  

    So, you could say my software consultant career let me make major contributions to the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists over the years.  First with the email lists and sending emails, then with website creation and maintenance, leading to my idea to have an online “studio tour” of artists on the website, then online membership records, online event registrations, online donation campaigns, exhibition displays, people’s choice voting for exhibition works, and conversion of the paper/email “Slip Trail” to the current blog.  I think these initiatives have helped to keep the organization vital and growing.  I am grateful to the active participation of the membership, especially fellow board members, past and present for their support.  I am very thankful for Sara D’Alessandro for taking over the newsletter. Michael Thornton for taking over the Ghost Ranch Coordination, and Leonard Baca for taking over the website.   

    The Slip Trail: Ghost Ranch became an important place for you to connect with other potters and learn from them. Please talk about the ways you remember having the NMPCA organization help the Ranch be a place for Clay Community. You had brought up in your outline the Armstrong Grant, Clay Forward, any other projects to support the ceramic arts at Ghost Ranch.  

    Judy Nelson-Moore:  Ghost Ranch was and is my first and best love in New Mexico.  From the time I attended the first ceramic art workshop at the ranch, I was caught.  I went to Ghost Ranch for a Jim Kempes and Willard Spence workshop.  Some of the most memorable NMPCA workshops were Rudy Autio (1985), Akio Takamori (1986), Jim Romberg (1992), Kathy Triplett (1998), Joe Bova (2007) and many in between including New Mexico connections  (workshops with multiple presenters) I attended as a participant and a presenter.  

    When my mother died, I went to Ghost Ranch and I climbed up to Chimney Rock where I was in tears and sitting on the ground, feeling like I was home. So, when my husband and I decided we wanted to retire to Santa Fe, I was still working as a consultant at the time. We suddenly realized we didn’t have to live in Denver because I was always flying anyway, so why don’t we move to New Mexico, and of course we had to move to Santa Fe. 

    I became good friends with Barbara Campbell when she took over the Ghost Ranch ceramic program coordination, and she and I partnered on many years of workshop planning and presenting, donation campaigns and fundraising projects, volunteer camp coordination, and thinking about the future of the ceramic art program at the ranch.  Our partnership continues to this day.  One of our ideas to better utilize the ceramic art facilities was to promote “Edge” workshops.  These were workshops scheduled on the calendar before or after the regular Ghost Ranch programming when the studio was not in use.  The weather at the Ranch is good for most of the year, so we were successful with several of these, including Jim Romberg, Joe Bova, and Sheryl Zacharia.  Luisa Baldinger and I did one of the workshops together:  I was doing paper clay, and she was doing soft slab construction.  


    “Edge” workshop at Ghost Ranch: Paper Clay led by Judy Nelson-Moore, Soft Slab Construction led by Luisa Baldinger. Photos by Marta Rodeheffer

    The experience of planning, presenting, taking, and talking to clay people over the years about Ghost Ranch experiences, led me to see that Ghost Ranch is a significant place for the ceramic arts, not just for me but for a lot of other people, and it had a potential I needed to help become fully realized.  Barbara and I had this idea where we applied for the Armstrong Grant in 2008 to put in a cement floor.  The Armstrong Grant gave us  $1000. We worked with the grant and put a cement floor over the dirt in Pot Hollow. In conjunction, I raised a donation campaign among the members where we collected a sum of money for other projects. Then the Ranch put in the Raku pavilion about a year later. We really were able to make several improvements down in Pot Hollow. 


    Judy and Barbara Campbell at Ghost Ranch. Photo by by Marta Rodeheffer

    When the flood occurred in 2015, and we moved up to Piñon, we had a campaign to get money for the sun awning over the portal, so it wasn’t so difficult to work on the portal because the sun was really quite difficult in that location. So that was a significant expense. When Covid came along, and I saw the Ranch was struggling, I had this idea. First of all, Andrea Pichaida’s daughter, a graphic designer, developed these logos for the Celebration of Clay for about three years. They were beautiful logos, I felt. We hadn’t had any T-shirts or aprons for several years, and I thought we needed something to remember these logos by, if not the shows and workshops themselves. And then I got this idea: let’s use them as collateral to collect money for the Ranch. So, you know, I’m always coming up with ideas. I’m never short of ideas. Other people probably feel that’s unfortunate. (haha!) I always believe you cannot put forth an idea and then step back and say, okay, everybody else, you do that idea. That’s not fair; that’s not right. So, I started pitching the idea and dedicated myself to making it happen. That’s how the Clay Forward campaign started. I had a wonderful group of artists on the committee (Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Luisa Baldinger, and Merlene Walker). I thought we had a brilliant idea to call it Clay Forward, and we met our goal, plus more.  Everyone now wears their shirts and aprons happily. Well, strangely, when Barbara Campbell was investigating how were going to use that money, she found out that the Ranch had been holding on to some money designated for the ceramic art studio for quite some time. So, there’s more money there than we even thought there was. 

    Another program I am supportive of for the NMPCA is the Armstrong Grant.  I knew Bill Armstrong, and he was a great guy.  He was selfless in his contributions to the New Mexico Potters. 

    The Armstrong Grant was initially set up for $500. And we later increased it to $1000. We need to increase the amount.  When we receive an application for more than $1000 or applications we want to award, and it’s more than $1000, the board does award them. Because we have some money in our savings, we can do increase the award for good reason. At an annual meeting several years ago, when we were giving the treasurer report, some members asked what we were doing with all that money. Let’s do something with it, they said. I’ve been conscious of discussion for several years. In the past, we didn’t always get applications for the Grant, and I think part of the reason is it’s such a paltry amount nobody wants to go to the trouble to apply for it. 

    The Slip Trail: You lent the organization your computer savvy in many ways. Wasn’t the motivation always to bring people together more easily? Can you reminisce on that process of converting to an online presence?

    Judy Nelson-Moore: First, I want to say, after the Annual Meeting this year, Kathy Cyman came to me and said something wonderful.  I think it reflects where we’ve come as an organization. She said, “Judy, I think the NMPCA would not be where it is now without you and your computer skills and putting us online and all the communication that has occurred.”  I felt like this was a good reason for all the hours of work I had spent on developing the technical side of the organization. I started because it seemed I was the only person in the organization who could. The initial motivation was to get the word out about who we were and our activities, the workshops, and grants.  I felt like people didn’t know what was going on. The motivation was also to raise what we now call the “profile” of the NMPCA, the public side, that was the website side, and the member side, all the communications, the emails, the newsletter, to get the word out among the members, to give the members some value, to make them know this is a happening organization, it’s well worth your participation. And I think this value has come to pass. 

    Bringing people together more easily was really the goal of the Zoom calls, with the Clay Connections, starting during COVID lockdown when we couldn’t meet in person. Being a statewide organization, it was always difficult for us to meet in person anyway. Clay Connections became an ongoing activity because it filled a need to connect beyond local areas.  I think it’s a great way for people to connect. And people are more interested in connecting now than they were before.  

    In those early “transition-to-online” years, we also evolved to have several websites. In the early days of WordPress, it didn’t seem possible to do more than one function on a WordPress site. I started one for the main website to publicize who we are and what we are about. Then, I started another website for the Studio Tour. I think the Studio Tour is one of my most significant contributions. It was another one of my brainchild ideas (chuckles). I felt like this was to be of significant value to members. It was when internet searching was increasing, and it enabled the artist, for a very low cost, to have their presence on the internet to show their work. I think this was very helpful. So the studio tour was the second site. Then there was The Slip Trail, the blog. The Slip Trail has had so many generations. It was initially a mailed mimeographed paper publication. Penne Roberts was the editor for many years, as well as other editors. The postage was getting very expensive.  The newsletter editors had trouble getting anybody to give them any input. We changed it to every other month, then to quarterly. And one meeting, the board was at my house, actually right here in this room where we are talking, and the board said, “Why don’t we have an online blog?” Then they all turned to me (big smile). And so, I implemented another WordPress site for the blog. The fourth one was for show applications. When you have even a non-juried show, you need some way of determining how many people to accept and collect their entries for tracking and labeling. 

    Then the WordPress sites became too unwieldy, and I began to realize, although they were nice sites and a credit to our organization, WordPress was not a tool just anybody could work with. It’s a difficult tool, and you need to be technically minded, especially with all the functionality we use.  You almost need to have a full-time person. And the board kept saying, “Well, Judy, we’ll just hire you to be the person.” I finally decided we needed to convert to something else. In the meantime, we decided to utilize Wild Apricot for membership records, dues tracking, and payments. The credit goes to Cricket Appel. She’s the one who identified the “content management system” (the official word for it). We converted all our membership records. It’s a great system to maintain membership records; it sends notifications when it’s time to renew membership, plus it enables us to register events, so we put the show applications on there, along with workshops. Wild Apricot accepts online payments. It is also a fairly adequate website and email tool. But I said to the board: we must have something people can manage easily. Multiple WordPress sites did not work for easy maintenance.  We decided to consolidate everything into Wild Apricot.  So, we went into a big project. It took us about six months, and people helped me. We converted all our functionality into Wild Apricot. And it works reasonably well. We had to convert all of the Studio Tours; we had galleries of previous shows we converted, and we had the Slip Trail articles; it was a big effort.


    Judy during the interview. Photo credit: Cirrelda Snider-Bryan

    The Slip Trail:  Almost our last question: You were involved on an administrative level with NMPCA for twenty years. You took on many roles. You took your required year off, but then you joined back on after six years, three times. Are there any anecdotes you wish to share about the various roles you took on the board over the years? Treasurer, President, Vice President, Webmaster, all the different roles.

    Judy Nelson-Moore:  I have worked in a business for many years. I was a manager in a computer software business. I worked as a consultant, I worked with clients. That experience was invaluable in all the roles I later took on the NMPCA. However, I quickly discovered the differences between working with business clients and clay artist volunteers in the NMPCA.  My best role in the business environment was as a consultant, helping people. I’d let them make the decisions, and I could just help them implement them. This skill came into play in leadership roles within the NMPCA. When I was NMPCA president, we had some difficult decisions and times when communication within the board was difficult. But there’s one very important action we took:  We made an operations’ manual. Sara D'Alessandro, Barbara Campbell, and I attended a Santa Fe Business Institute workshop. They gave a workshop on non-profits and how they should operate. After the workshop, we created the operations’ manual. It’s on the website.  Unfortunately, many people have forgotten about it. So, my final advice is to pay attention to the manual.  It can be updated and changed to meet current circumstances, but it can give guidance if questions arise and communications get confused.  

    The Slip Trail: Brava, good. Looking into the future, do you have an idea for the future of the NMPCA and your own direction in creativity?

    Judy Nelson-Moore:  I hope for the NMPCA to expand its role in the Arts Community, emerging as a key organization to advocate for creativity in ceramic arts. Creativity, a vital tool for personal and organizational growth, finds unique expression through clay. The tactile experience of molding clay connects artists intimately with their creations, fostering a powerful, restorative, and exciting process. The NMPCA can attract a diverse community, solidifying its position as a driving force in the intersection of art and craftsmanship and inspiring a new generation of clay artists dedicated to increasing creativity in our world.

    In my personal exploration with clay, I've entered a phase where commercial motivations no longer drive my creative pursuits. This direction stems from a transformative shift in my creative journey. My focus has evolved towards a profound love for experimentation and exploration in the realm of ceramics:  alternative firing methods, alternative surfaces, unfettered shapes, unfired and mixed media combinations.  Experimenting with effects, and methods has become an intrinsic goal in itself. The works that emerge are a genuine manifestation, either flowing intuitively from my hands or taking shape from the canvas of my dreams ... My desire is to persist in crafting with energy, unbridled freedom, and share my love of clay with others.  

    The Slip Trail: What a completely successful interview. I applaud your words and your thinking. Thank you so much, Judy. 

    Judy Nelson-Moore: You’re very welcome. I am so thankful to you for helping me with this process. I’ve wanted to get something in the Slip Trail to make these stories known.

    -       This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.   

    To see Judy’s ceramic work, go to  her studio tour page at www.judynelsonmoore.com and her website at www.nmpotters.org/judy-nelson-moore

    Also, to read Judy's article "The Monster From Within or How I Became an Artist," visit this link.

  • 09 Aug 2023 12:08 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

      Part Two: Interview with Barbara Campbell

      Barbara Campbell: Then a 27-foot flood came [July 7, 2015], and took out a lot of our equipment. It took the slab roller and dumped it upside down about 300 feet away. We found it 'cause its legs were sticking up out of the mud. All of the wood parts in the middle were pretty nasty and it was really rusted so I cleaned it all up. Somebody helped me build some struts for inside of it. It still could use one more piece of particle board in there right now. I usually put 2 or 3 pieces of canvas just to roll it a little thinner. So we managed to rescue that and it more or less works. 

      We moved up to Pinon #1. The Potters Association was fabulous. Dean Schroeder built all those indoor shelves and a counter around the sink. Joe Bova, Leonard Baca, and a few other people, I can’t remember who all else, built shelves along the side of the patio. First of all, I told the Ranch we needed more outdoor space. They moved all the kids’ equipment out of the way so we would have room for the kiln yard.  The Ranch built us a patio that went out back from the smaller old patio, but it was a little too narrow. The Potters Association, again, raised $6000 for the retractable shades to come down so the afternoon sun doesn’t come across and fry people that are working on the patio. So, we have this nice shady area to make that patio very workable. The lattice work gives us some privacy without blocking people’s view or the much-needed air flow. 

       

      June 2016 “V” Camp: Dean Schroeder, Barbara Campbell, Tomas Wolff, Leonard Baca, Monika Kaden, Jack and Penne Roberts showing Raku kiln moved into "new" kiln yard. Photo credit: NMPCA.                           


       May 2019 “V” Camp: Penne Roberts, David Canfield, Barbara Campbell, Michael Thornton review the Studio Manual. Photo credit: Cirrelda Snider-B.

      Katie Sheridan donated the electric Bailey kiln that goes up to cone 10. It’s a lovely kiln. Because of the flood we no longer had a computer kiln. It’s really nice to have a computer kiln because if I can’t be there, that’s 4 or 5 hours I have to wait while I’m turning the kiln up before I can leave. One of our Jan Term teachers melted a batch of micaceous clay all over the inside of the Bailey kiln which totally ruined it, so we were down to one small funky kiln. It was then someone in Albuquerque, I can't remember who, had a computer for sale for $1,500. I asked our Program Director if the Ranch would buy it for us and they did.

      Then, a year or two ago, Daniel Lauer from Albuquerque who works on kilns came up. Michael Thornton started cleaning all the melted micaceous clay out of the Bailey kiln. We kept one of the shelves that was completely destroyed. That shelf had the mica melted onto it like lava. There was one little space that was left bare and I found a lizard painted there, and a poem written by way of an apology. Michael started cleaning up the inside of the kiln. I asked the Ranch for the money to repair it. Buying a new kiln would be $3 or $4000 but we could probably repair it for under a thousand. Daniel Lauer came up and did an evaluation. I ordered all the parts he recommended. He later came up and rewired the whole kiln and put 2 courses of new bricks that were needed. He was the one who said you don’t want to be pulling a plug out and putting another plug in, on these other two kilns, he said, because it damages the metal, and eventually will start arching and you will burn up your sockets. They are really hard to get in and out and apparently it does damage each time you take it out. I had that happen to one of my kilns. My plugs are up high, under the eaves, because I have my kilns outdoors. Just the weight of the cord hanging, it eventually burned whole the whole plug and socket up when I wasn’t looking. Fortunately, it didn’t start a fire in my house, but it was all blackened. So, when I reinstalled it, I put a brace up there to hold the plug up so the weight wasn’t pulling. I understood the whole concept of that. We now just leave the computer kiln plugged in and we don't use the old small kiln that was so instrumental right after the flood. The small kiln was donated to the Ranch by Cricket Appel. I think it is time to pass that kiln along to the next person in need.

      The Bailey kiln is hard-wired now. Everything is now working again. We also got the big gas kiln working. It turned out it was the sludge in the pipes leftover from the flood.

      That’s the story of the maintenance. Everything is working now. Unfortunately, at the editing of this piece, we are having trouble with the gas lines again, and both the Raku kiln and the big gas kiln need some detective work on the pipes or basovalves or both. I will hopefully be working on these issues in the next few weeks as I have a throwing class starting on the 17th of September and would very much like to use the large gas kiln.

      The Slip Trail: What a story. You also served on the board of NM Potters and Clay Artists. 

      Barbara Campbell:  I did, I think I did a six-year stint and a year off and then another six-year stint. From the mid 90s until 2016 or 17 I can’t remember exactly when I went off the board.

      The Slip Trail: So much interacting with Potters. If you hadn’t been chosen to replace Kempes, there might not have been such a great relationship. NM Potters had so much collaboration, gave so much hard work and time, and so much money was donated by them. And you were involved with NM Potters before the Ranch asked you to be coordinator.

      Barbara Campbell: Part of it is that, and part of it was Judy, saying let’s get this going, and she was like the inspiration on a lot of the ideas.  I can’t remember whose idea it was to have a volunteer camp. We were going to call it Work Camp, but Linda Kastner said, “Oh no, that sounds like Auschwitz. Call it Volunteer Camp.” That happened during that period of time. Early 2000s. Now we call it V-camp. I hope we will be able to do it again next spring. I think it is time. 

      It was Jim Kempes who needed to go back to work, as a teacher. He had been at the Ranch, he had taken care of Pot Hollow, all of the Festival of the Arts classes and all for more for many, many years before I came along. He had always been onsite when NM Potters did our workshops. We did a Spring one and a Fall one back then. He and Willard Spence. You know, Willard Spence was an older man who was part of the Bauhaus group from Taos, the two of them put Pot Hollow together to begin with. I would love to get Jim Kempes to tell his story. [see the interview in The Slip Trail here.]

      The Slip Trail: Can you tell about the “TruGreen Pottery” course?

      Barbara Campbell: Judy Nelson-Moore had done a couple of paper clay classes. You know with paper clay you can fire it/not fire it – deal with it how you want. She started talking about cold finishes and encaustic and she was always talking about this, that, and the other thing. And I thought, you know, wouldn’t it be fun to offer a class and call it TruGreen Clay partly because of the low carbon footprint because it is not going to be fired. But with Taxidermy clay you’re not supposed to fire it. That’s what I have been using. It’s very, very fibrous. And I don’t know what the fiber in it is. I should probably ask at NM Clay.

      The Slip Trail: Sheep Dog?

      Barbara Campbell: No, it’s called Taxidermy clay. It’s not to be fired. I think Sheepdog you can still fire it. 

      The Slip Trail: I’ve never done any of Judy’s paper clay workshops unfortunately.

      Barbara Campbell: I did several of Judy’s workshops – and I helped her do one at Santa Fe Clay as her assistant. Then she did one up here at the Northern NM College before we actually got a space at the Ranch after the flood. She had four or five students. I got into it that way. I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to have a class where we didn’t have to fire. We were also talking about a class that was one day shorter. Because one of the things the Ranch wants to do is take advantage of the weeklong classes, but also accommodate the weekend people that come up. If the class goes until Saturday morning, that means people can only come up for Saturday night. Cleaning crew has a massive amount of stuff to do, so with everybody gone by Friday they can do it. They were looking for classes that could be one day shorter. I thought, it’s taken me ten years to figure out how to get it into this five-and-a-half-day period. Turning it into four-and-a-half-days was just not going to work for me, with the time firing entails. They are very happy to have a class that could be done in four days with no firing. 

      The Slip Trail: I love hearing about that. And it’s true, we need to learn how to not have to fire. I’m going to take it. Tell about the other classes you teach. Do you have a favorite?

      Barbara Campbell: This year I’m going to be teaching Micaceous clay for one week, then Raku for the second week, then I’ll be teaching TruGreen for the third week. I think my favorite of course is the Raku always. I also like the Micaceous. What I’m going to do for that this summer is fire in the round brick kiln we brought up from Pot Hollow. And I will be using cedar for the firing. That will be fun.

      You know, I like all of it. 

      A few months ago, I had a workshop in April with the TruGreen. The next week they called me and said there would be two groups of 20 ten-year-olds, and would I come give them a taste of pottery. They were going to go to Tony Roller’s down in Santa Clara, but he canceled. "Can you do something?" So, I said, "Sure." I only had them for three hours. Tomas Wolff, at one of our Potters Association workshops with 30 or 40 people, did this one drill where he had us take a piece of paper, write our name on it, write favorite color, favorite animal, something else, and something else - I can’t remember exactly what. Also, if you were introvert or extrovert.  He then divided us into groups, and told us to build a village as a team using the information on our cards as a starting point. So, I did this with the kids. First of all, I asked these ten-year-olds if they knew the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. They were right on. First day it was word perfect, the second day it was just a little off, but it was close enough to be fine. Anyway, they divided up into groups of 4 and 5 and received a circle of clay or a square base slab of clay. I had them build animals while I was talking to them. They divided into the aquatic ones, four-legged, etc. They had a great time. They got finished about 45 minutes before the end of the period. Each group had a spokesperson and everybody crowded around and the spokesperson said what the village was all about, whether it was Romanesque or an under-seascape or a farmyard, or whatever. Everybody asked questions. First of all, we talked about how it was conceptual art. So, once they were done, they were done. They could use rocks and sticks, anything they wanted to incorporate into their environment. Then after they were done … I said, “Okay I’m going to give you a different kind of clay.” They were looking like, OMG. Aren’t we done yet? I handed them this Taxidermy clay and the minute they touched it, each and every one of them was totally back into it. It was kinda sticky, it was a way different texture than the clay they had been working with. Just to watch that transformation really delighted me. I told them once the pieces are dry, they’re finished. You don’t want to leave them outside, but you can take them home, you can paint them. They got to take something home. That was one of the most fun classes I have taught in a long time. 

      The Slip Trail: I think it’s brilliant that you gave them clay again. These are stories that needed to be told, Barbara. You are really there for the Ranch and ceramics education. I say, brava, Barbara, excellent job! I just want to say thank you. You are fabulous and we are lucky. 

      First two questions were presented by Barbara in written form. Interview for the rest of the questions took place on June 22, 2023 via Zoom, online. 

      -       This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.    -

      -Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Slip Trail Editor

      • 09 Aug 2023 10:36 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

        Barbara Campbell currently serves as the Ceramic Arts Coordinator at Ghost Ranch Conference Center north of Abiquiu, NM. Here is the story of her life in clay and her work with it at Ghost Ranch. 

        Told in two parts, here is Part One:

        • The Slip Trail: Tell the story of how you came to be a clay artist. Along with that, tell how you became a production potter living in El Rito, NM.

          Barbara Campbell: Between high school and college, I took a year long trip to Europe. At the time I spoke passable Spanish and enough French to get into trouble, but I really liked languages so off I went. While living in Paris I honed my French and started learning a bit of German. When I returned to attend college, I thought I would like to be a foreign diplomat, so I started taking Russian and going after my Bachelors, still fooling around with this direction. In my third quarter of college, I took a pottery class and got totally snagged.

          I think part of my decision to transfer to an art school was that my mother went to an art school in the Bay Area, and I had a boyfriend in the Bay Area so it was an easy decision to transfer. My education became very non-traditional very quickly. The boyfriend disappeared and I was sent by my college to a rural village in Mexico to help set up a branch campus there. It was an amazing experience and I learned to be more of a self-starter. We had to do everything without much mature adult supervision. It was a fabulous experience. I had to return for my final semester to the Oakland campus and there I worked with Viola Frey. Once out of school, I headed off to NYC and got a job teaching pottery at the Cooper Square Art Center. I only lasted about eight months in NYC before I felt I was completely losing myself. I took a three-day train ride back to San Francisco and joined the Berkeley Potters Guild and from there went full into production pottery. 

          About this time the powers that be were demolishing all the old Victorian homes in Oakland and I started making little houses out of clay. This sort of took off and I got into all sorts of different styles of house replicas and fantasy castles and planters and it became very popular to the point I was supplying shops all over the country. I had patterns for certain styles so just started cranking out the work.

          Berkeley decided it needed the area where our guild was located for a redevelopment project. It never actually happened, but they gave us all about $2,000 to move. I used mine to invest in all the equipment I would need to set up my own studio. I had a friend who got the same and we moved into a caretaking position up in Jenner, and he helped me build a downdraft gas kiln before moving on to his own place up near Fort Bragg. I saved up my money that year and found a property I could afford in Sebastopol, CA.

          I lasted there for four and a half years when I was missing the mountains and blue skies of the Rockies where I had grown up. I sold my house and moved everything except my huge kiln to Boulder, Colorado where I had grown up. I couldn’t find what I was looking for anywhere in Colorado, but I had an opportunity to drive a friend to New Mexico. I did a search when I got here in early 1978. I found and house in El Rito and made an offer on it that was accepted. I moved from Boulder on Easter weekend of that year. About a week after setting up my studio, I met a guy right here in El Rito and we were married about a year later. 

          His property and my house were really inconveniently located so after a big show, I had enough money for us to go together and buy a property in the middle of town. We had this town property and the property up the Potrero canyon. I built a studio up there and had the one in town so we were able to come back and forth while raising our son. The town property was crucial for when he started going to school. 

          Meanwhile when my son was about three years old, I can remember hating making these stupid little cookie cutter houses and one morning I woke up and decided I would never make another little #%$* house. I got my wheel out and started honing my throwing skills. I had been fascinated with the Mimbres culture from the moment I got to NM. I wasn’t able to find a lot of information about them and the two or three books that were out there all seemed to contradict one another. I started collecting their very graphic wonderful designs. About this time, I had to paint my window frames and doors on the house we had bought in town and my neighbors said I had to use this certain color of teal as it was what would keep the brujos away. 

          So here I am an Anglo living in a Hispanic community thinking about using Native American designs on my pottery. As I was designing this line of work, I needed to get the Hispanic element into the dinnerware I was preparing to make. I worked on the blue slip recipe from Daniel Rhode’s book until I got a really deep lovely teal. Now I had the tri-cultural intention working for me.

          The Slip Trail: I remember you selling your pottery at Ghost Ranch in the 1990s at the local craft market held on Friday evenings. What was that like? 

          Barbara Campbell: Somewhere around the mid 80’s I started selling my work at the Mercado on Friday evenings at the Ghost Ranch. It was a captive audience and very lucrative. That is what I spent my summers doing every Friday evening for about ten weeks per summer.
          I did American Craft Council shows as well as small local shows and managed to make a reasonable living.


          Barbara at her home during the online Zoom interview on June 22, 2023. Photo credit: Cirrelda Snider-B.

          The Slip Trail: You were hired for the Ghost Ranch ceramics education coordinator position in the early 2000’s, was that first year a full schedule? As you come close to teaching there 20 years, what has changed?

          Barbara Campbell:  I wasn’t hired, I was asked to volunteer. Around 2004, Jim Kempes, who was the Arts Coordinator and main ceramic artist running Pot Hollow at the Ranch, decided to go into grade school teaching and left the Ranch. I had been on the board that runs the Mercado at the Ranch and I was asked to take over the Ceramic Arts department. By that summer or the next, I started teaching several classes during Festival of the Arts. Soon I was teaching Jan Term as well.

          When asked if I would be coordinator for the ceramic arts program, I wanted to know what it involved. They said, “A lot of work and no money.” I said, “Sure, why not.”

          There was an Interim director named Mary Ann Lundy. Judy Nelson-Moore and I actually initiated doing some renovations with Pot Hollow.  We went to Mary Ann Lundy and made a proposal that we have a volunteer camp. And so we did. That was the beginning of V-camps. First of all, all the wheels were on tiny pads of cement that were sticking up and one would trip over them all the time. If you dropped a tool it went into the dirt or the sand and if you didn’t pick it up right away it got stepped on or lost. It was pretty funky down there in Pot Hollow. So, the Potters Association raised enough money to pour a slab and that was the beginning.  Then, there was this program coordinator named Jim Baird. I had been told the best way to approach him if you wanted anything was to kind of come in from the side, so he felt like it was his idea in the end. So, I kinda got good at that. There was no cover over the two raku kilns and trolley kiln. You know the tubes that ran the gas were in the sun. In the winter they were in the snow. We suggested that the Ranch put up a pavilion roof. And they did, that was the result – the Ranch paid for that. The Potters Association raised enough money to do the cement. Then Potters raised enough money for half of the big gas kiln, the West Coast 24 cubic foot gas kiln.

          The Slip Trail: The one that’s there today?

          Barbara Campbell: Yeah, just got repaired this year. It’s now functioning perfectly well with one glitch, that’s just a get-it-going glitch, the electronic ignition doesn’t actually work because the striker doesn’t work, so somebody has to be there to do the switches while somebody’s under the kiln with a torch. There are eight burners. You just have to keep working at getting it going. The gas doesn’t seem to flow well at first. But once it gets lit it works, it goes up to cone 10, in 6-8 hours. 

          Almost every year after that, we did a volunteer camp where the potters would come and renovate, repair and take inventory. One year we had this woman named Judith Baker who took the class and really loved it. Her husband was quite wealthy and he made a nice donation to us. I asked him if he would buy these Advancer shelves for us because I was getting to the point where lifting heavy things into the back of the kiln was becoming too hard for me. There was a potter in El Rito who was going out of business. He had 16 of these shelves, and he sold them to us for $1200, which is a third of what they would cost new. We now have all these lovely Advancer shelves compliments of the Baker’s. 

          So, it turned out, somewhere in the 90s, somebody else made a donation. It could have been the Bakers. I can’t remember. But anyway, I didn’t know about it until this year. Apparently, what the Ranch did in the meantime was to invest it, earmarked for the ceramic arts program. It has now earned to around $28,000.

          Then Debra Hepler came along and she was there ten years. Tom Nichols who ran the welding department wanted to put together a Peace Garden in honor of Barbara Schmidtzinsky, Archivist and Assistant Program Director, who had recently lost her battle with cancer, and Ed Delair, Program Director, who had died suddenly of a heart attack. From the patio at Headquarters, you can’t really see the Peace Garden down at Lower Pavilion, so we had the idea that if we put a mural that reflected those Fibonacci spirals in the Peace Garden, it would draw people down to the Peace Garden. Dean Schroeder, Tomas Wolff, Judy Nelson-Moore, and I got together to plan it out. Judy and I did the design and decal work -- Judy, Dean and I did the tile work. Then Tomas and Dean installed it with the help of Tom Nichols and some help from me and Judy. 


          April 2014 Peace Mural: Tom Nichols, Dean Schroeder, Barbara Campbell, Eddie Kay Nichols, Judy Nelson-Moore, Tomás Wolff. Photo credit: NMPCA. 

          We had this tiny little 12 by 18” slab roller and it was not big enough. Michael Walsh who lives in Santa Fe had a 4' by 24" Brent Roller and he was willing to sell it to the ranch for $800.  It was in new like condition and Debra gave me permission to have the Ranch buy it for us. We sold the little one to Mountainair for 100 bucks which went back to the Ranch. 

          The Slip Trail: I would say 800 for a huge slab roller, that’s a great price. 

          Barbara Campbell: That’s what I told her. Debra got to the point where I would start walking up to her and she would kinda go like this [hands up] and go, “How much is this gonna cost me?” I would say, “Well, not too much!” Anyway, she was very helpful for getting equipment we needed for pulling things together. 

          I had this big wood fire kiln up in Potrero. The reason I built it up there was because we always had these piles of brush that needed to be burned. It was oak, it was the wrong fuel for a kiln. I could never get up to cone 10 -- it was just like really, really difficult. The oak would make clinkers, you know it would make coals, then it would stall the kiln and I would have to rake the clinkers out and get the fire going. So, I just quit firing it. And at one point, after Terry died, Colin said, “Mom, what do you want to do with this kiln?” I said, “I want to move it to Ghost Ranch.” So, we got several people together, there were 6 or 7 of us. We took that kiln apart. Loaded it onto the Low Boy trailer, and made two trips over to the Ranch. It was way too heavy for one trip. 


          January 2013 Wood fire kiln firing, Barbara Campbell and Leonard Baca. Photo credit: NMPCA.

          I offered a course on “How To Build a Wood Fired Kiln.” We had four students - two of them were not pulling their weight, the other two were really into it. I had to keep taking stuff apart and rebuilding it. It was somewhat frustrating; however, in a week’s class we rebuilt that kiln.

          So, I decided it needed four feet more stack. One of the reasons it wasn’t firing correctly was because the stack wasn’t high enough. I went down to Santa Fe Steel (the Potters Association raised the money for this, I think it was 400 or 800 – I can’t remember --somewhere under $1000). Then my son rented a cherry picker, and my brother-in-law and my son brought the cherry picker and installed it on top of the other piece that we already had in place. We now had 11 feet of stack. I had previously fired it once or twice with a few people and we were just stoking and stoking it, it was insane and it was hard. It was also very aerobic. I still wasn’t happy with the way the temperature was so uneven. So, I called Betsy Williams and she said, “I will come over and help you.” We were getting mill ends from Moore’s Lumber Company, so when the guys from the Ranch would take the recycle into Espanola, they would stop at Moore’s and pick a couple of these huge bundles for 30 bucks, deliver them to the Ranch. Potters Association people would come saw it up into two-foot pieces. There was lots and lots of firewood. Well, for two-fifths of a cord of wood, cut into two-foot pieces, Betsy showed me how to fire the kiln gently. When the pyrometer started to go back down, you throw two pieces in and it will keep going down, and then it will start going up a little higher. The minute it would start to come down again, throw two more pieces in. It was so civilized and it was so easy, and could easily be done with just two people. We didn’t need four teams of people to take turns, we just needed a couple people in an easy chair or two out there, and some lemonade or cold water. It worked beautifully. We got to cone 10 in 8 hours and it was fabulous. With this technique, we did two or three workshops. We could go from clay to wood-fired, finished pieces in less than a week. It was amazing.

          The Slip Trail: I am so glad this story is being told. 


          April 2013 Barbara’s wood fired kiln with its new stack. Photo credit: NMPCA.

          To be continued ... see Part Two here.

      • 10 Jun 2023 1:06 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

        How did you first get interested in clay?

        While my husband was stationed at naval base in San Francisco, I enrolled in pottery classes at Letterman Army Base craft studio. I started out slip casting with molds, I then began to do wheel work in 1972. Later I took classes at the DeYoung Museum’s Art School with David Fukiyama, their pottery teacher. While on a bike trip around San Francisco, I discovered a studio whose owner, Tom Burdette, had been the production manager of Heath Stoneware in Sausalito. I took classes with him and later rented studio space from him. He was a great inspiration to me. 

          

        Describe your studio. 

        I live in the mountains east of Albuquerque. My studio includes a beautiful corner window where my wheel is nestled and I view land to the north. I use a gas kiln. There is also a place where I have shelves that display my work. Complete sets of glaze test tiles are displayed in both the work space and in the kiln room. 

            

        Describe your work.

        I do both stoneware and porcelain – functional ware. At my previous studio in ABQ, I had a gas kiln that I had made, and fired to cone 10. When I moved to the east mountains, I gave my gas kiln to Kathy Cyman, and while I saved to purchase a new gas kiln, I began using a cone 10 electric kiln.  I created a brand-new palette of cone 6 oxidation glazes which took forever. When I was finally able to purchase my gas kiln, I first fired to cone 6 with propane, then when natural gas finally came to our area, I had to learn again the process of firing with natural gas. Propane fires much hotter than natural gas! However, I didn’t throw out any of the cone 6 glazes I had developed, and I did add in a number of Coyote Clay cone 6 glazes. I had created a following with my cone 6 oxidation glazes and have only just begun to work again at cone 10 where I fire in reduction. I recently attended a glaze development class with Theo Helmstadter at his studio Green River Pottery in Santa Fe. I was particularly interested in testing Cone 10 shino glazes in his workshop. I still use a Shino glaze developed by Jenny Lind, the potter from La Cienega. While working with cone 6 clay and glazes I did a lot of tile work, a self-created method, using different clay bodies for colors – Marilyn’s, Ochre, Anasazi 5X, Laguna Red. I use tile in architectural ways both indoors and outside on walls. 

             

          

        When you are not working in your studio, what do you enjoy? 

        A lot of gardening. I am the secretary of the NM Orchid Guild. I am also the president of Tecolote Auxiliary, a community group that supports our local volunteer fire department, in the rural area where we live. 


        Do you play music in your studio? If yes, what do you listen to?

        I listen to CDs of 70s music and classical. 

        What other pottery do you have in your home? 

        Theo Helmstadter’s thrown lidded jars, Waltraud Weber a potter in Berkeley, Frank Willett, Steven Hill, Tom Coleman, Gary Parker, Kathy Cyman, Leonard Baca, Brianna Richter and Pueblo pottery from Acoma, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, and Jemez. 

        What caused you to join NMPCA? Describe involvement with NMPCA.

        I have been a member since 1977. I originally studied pottery in San Francisco, though I had been living in New Mexico before that. My husband was stationed on an aircraft carrier out of San Francisco and later went to dental school there. We moved back to New Mexico in 1976. While listening to KUNM radio, I heard Penne Roberts talking about NMPA, and she was inviting people to come to a lecture at UNM by Franz Kriwanek from Silverton Mountain Pottery, Silverton CO. My first introduction to NMPA was attending this lecture. It was a time before internet. At one time I did the newsletter which was printed and mailed out to members, and then I became the treasurer for about 18 years. There was a period when our membership was dwindling, and we were working to try to find ways to get potters to join us and participate in workshops and go to the Ghost Ranch. A number of people kept it running. Penne at the Heights Community Center worked very, very hard. She has amazing photographic records of what happened at Ghost Ranch. When our member communication depended on mailed-out newsletters, no electronic, I tried to keep people going. I managed the data base for dues renewals and developed a membership card. At the time, the art shop Langell’s was on Carlisle, and they gave a 10% discount to NMPA members who presented their membership cards when making a purchase. You could buy brushes and all kinds of art supplies from Langell’s. Giving out that card to every member as dues were renewed, was something we did. I’m very proud of the logo I created - the kiln logo. I’m very proud of that - used on stationary that I produced on my computer and on the membership cards. That was my gift to NMPA. These days, I participate in Celebration of Clay shows, and I attend some of the Clay Connections zooms. 

          

        Photos taken at studio visit by editor Cirrelda Snider-Bryan on May 22, 2023. 

         

      • 15 Apr 2023 8:35 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

        By Susan Voss

        Within the Land of Enchantment there is an abundance of gifted ceramic artists who develop their craft across the state. One of the great gifts of clay and surface design is that almost any expression of art and form is possible. This is the gift of the current show at the Albuquerque Sunport, a broad array of ceramic form and color brightens the showcases and provides a swatch of the talent within New Mexico. The show is organized by the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists (NMPCA) that promotes excellence and creativity in the clay arts. The Sunport Ceramics Showcase is currently on display and will be available to see until April 30th, 2023 in the bottom floor of the airport in the passageway to the vehicle parking. A link to the display can be found at https://www.nmpotters.org/NMPCA-Sunport-Ceramics-Showcase-Albuquerque-New-Mexico-A-Catalog-of-ceramics-works and a link to an image of each piece in the display, price and the artist name and contact information is found at https://www.nmpotters.org/page-1800744.

        Each of the three showcases provides a range of ceramic expressions from large vessels and platters, abstract sculpture, to sculptures representing fish, animals and the human form. The beautiful variation in form, surface design and color immediately catches the viewer’s eyes and beckons them to take a closer look. The range in expression will entice different viewers and hold them intrigued and enchanted.

        Coming off of the elevator from the baggage area upstairs, one is met with the first set of ceramic expressions. The overall sense of horizontal flow as seen in Karin Bergh “School of Fish” and stability of place expressed in Robert Kings vase with flowers ("Untitled"). Within the overall arrangement there is an expression of rising up as in the central piece “Nest” by Judy Nelson-Moore and of holding place as seen in the abstract piece “Wrinkles in Nature” by Catherine McClain. Several of the vessels demonstrate the beauty and variability of alternative firing processes including Gail Goodwin’s “Ceremonial Vessel,” Sjoran Fitzpatrick’s “Remembering,” and Serit Kotowski’s “Seed Jar.” The three female sculptures show how varied the female figure can be modeled to express a sense of joy, knowing and being.

        First set off the escalator. Photo by Susan Voss.

        The central showcase provides a feast of colors and forms. From the two solemn central figures in the sculpture “Afghanistan” by Lois Olcott Price, the colorful and widely expressive gargoyles by Darla Graff Thompson, to the rabbit topped “Listening Desert” by Jacquito Beddo, the many human and animal figures within the display invite the viewer to pause and consider each piece. The gathering of forms “The Seven Sisters” by Luisa Baldinger, the abstract and symbolic forms including Ann Trott’s “Pod / Emerging” and Sharon Brush’s “Acclimation” contrast beautifully with the functional art of the “Cosmos Vase” by Adam Padilla, “Earthscape” vessel by Jenna Ritter and “Lizard Plate” by Richard Orlando. The simple and the complex come together to demonstrate the range of expression possible with clay.


        The central showcase. Photo by Susan Voss.

        The last of the three showcases before exiting the Sunport provides a broad display of ceramic expressions. The central piece by Sheena Cameron entitled “Our Deb Haaland” is a sculpture of the current US Secretary of the Interior from the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, NM. Several abstract pieces within the showcase capture a range of movement and colors unique to each artist’s vision. The three large platters and bowls demonstrate the beauty that can be achieved through the simplicity of a white shino surface, or through the vibrant colors of an expansive red poppy (Okjoo Lee’s “Hot Summer”or through the use of intricate pattern and color (Charlotte Ownby's "Vibrancy I"). The lovely range of vessels and forms demonstrate the ability of the artist to express their visions in many different forms including “Ceremonial Vessel I by Gail Goodwin, “Shoulder Jar” by Lee Akins, images of cranes in a sea of blue (“Cranes Rendezvous”) by Tomas Wolff, and the “Fish Rising” by Sjoran Fitzpatrick. The vibrant colors of Andrea Pichaida's “Moonrise Over the Sandias” contrast with the cool form of the “Gem cup” by Casey Pendergast. 


        Last of the three showcases before exiting. Photo by Susan Voss. 

        The collection of ceramic expression from across New Mexico is greater and deeper than could be captured in a few short paragraphs and images. Only a handful of pieces and artists have been highlighted and yet, there are many more! A visit to the Sunport Airport is encouraged during the short time this show is open for viewing. A full listing of each item, the artist and cost is provided online along with an email address to the artist. It is impossible to express how interesting and varied the NMPCA show is and the best advice is to visit the show for yourself. Take a moment and enjoy!

      • 02 Apr 2023 5:05 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

        By Sheena Cameron

        Great job again to the organizers and artists that have made the 2023 Sunport Ceramics Showcase an outstanding display. It shows 48 pieces representing 35 artists.  The diversity is astounding, as is the (thoughtfully-preplanned) arrangement.

        Standing back and taking the show in as a whole, shows that the group’s goal, of demonstrating the amazing talent and diversity of clay artists in our state, has been accomplished.

         Lois Olcott Price’s show-stopping “Afghanistan 1984." Photo by Sheena Cameron

        It also shows that there are a lot of artists using the natural colors of clay as an integral part of the message of their piece. It looks like these artists love clay and understand clay. One of the most outstanding examples of this is Lois Olcott Price’s show-stopping “Afghanistan 1984." It would have lost much of its impact had it been in color or smaller. Other pieces that so honored natural clay are: Hebe Garcia’s "Thoughts and Memories," both of Serit’s pieces, Catherine McClain’s creative "Wrinkles in Nature," Debi Smith’s “Contemplative," and my own use of natural clay color in the skin tone for “Our Deb Haaland."

         Andrea Pichaida’s “Moonrise over the Sandias” and Sjoran Fitzpatrick's “Fish Rising." Photo by Sheena Cameron

        Another thing that is apparent is some masterful use of color. Andrea Pichaida’s “Moonrise over the Sandias” astounded me with its unique use of color until I remembered she used to be a painter. But few painters seem to use color that masterfully. It seems it would not have worked as well in a painting medium as the textures, piercings, and the play of the inside and outside of the vessel would have been lost. The other standout color piece was Ann Trott’s lime green “Pod/Emerging." It was not nearly as striking in its photograph. We needed to see the flocking glaze technique in person to get the feeling of the magic of a green, growing, living being from the plant realm.

        To prove black and white can also be powerful, Sjoran Fitzpatrick brings us “Fish Rising." It was one of the most commented-on pieces, looking ancient and ceremonial.

        We have all seen, over the years, many amazing animal sculptures from Kari Rives. She did not disappoint this year, bringing us “Marshall the Musk Ox.” With his massive body yet soulful eyes, he is definitely a guy you can love.

        Usually we can count on Leonard Baca to bring us a beautiful piece of functional pottery with clean lines and masterful glazing. But this time he brings us “Secret Dreams Giddy-up” which evokes the enchantment of many of the rock faces of New Mexico, with its secret passages and contrasting  glazes on the various planes.

        Fortunately, this did not leave the show without beautiful functional pottery. Richard Orlando’s “Dogwood Plate” and “Lizard Bowl,” and Adam Padilla”s “Cosmos Vase” are sublime.

        NMPCA has definitely done a great service to the Clay Artists of NewMexico with this show.                    

        --Sheena Cameron

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