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.