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  • 09 Jan 2020 11:58 AM | Jacquita Beddo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by Layne Vickers Smith

  • 30 Oct 2019 5:22 PM | Judy Nelson-Moore (Administrator)

    Workshop report by Eden Radfarr, 2019 NMPCA Ghost Ranch workshop scholarship recipient

    Over twenty potters, beginners and experts alike, gathered at Ghost Ranch over Labor Day Weekend, 2019, for an intense four days of learning from four generations of renowned Santa Clara ceramists; Jody, Polly, Susan and Kaa Folwell. We were there to learn to make traditional micaceous clay cooking pots.

    Jody led us through the coiling process. She taught us to slowly hand roll the coils between our hands, though many of us ultimately reverted to our familiar habit of rolling on the table. Some of us struggled to keep our forms balanced as Jody reminded us to be sure to work all the air bubbles out of our clay. Polly, Susan and Kaa came around giving us tips and troubleshooting.

    Working hard to smooth out and start carving our pots.

    On day two we continued forming, smoothing and carving our pots. Jody helped us learn to feel the right thickness and weighting of our pots and work out imperfections. Later on, Susan lead us through the slipping and polishing processes on small pots that Polly and member Barbara Campbell had prepared for us. We worked with Santa Clara slip, slips that Susan had harvested on her travels and a commercial micaceous slip that many of us were quite fond of. Susan was quite adept at guiding us through ways to work creatively with imperfections such as spots where the slip flaked off during polishing due to uneven drying. Some of us achieved smooth glistening surfaces while others, myself included, needed to embrace irregularity and work more texture into our surfacing approach, but they all turned out quite lovely.

    We low fired the pots overnight and next morning dove into the carving process. The low fire wasn’t quite low enough which made the carving process a little arduous. This was also the day to dry and sand our micaceous pots in preparation for pit firing and to sit back and enjoy presentations from all four Folwells about their (jaw-dropping) work and artistic approaches.

    On Monday morning Kaa arrived with a load of precious cow patties for our pit firing. We gathered wood, prepared the fire, and then, moment of truth: we began putting our pots in the fire. It wasn’t long before the pops, like huge popcorn kernels, began. Jody had warned us about squeezing out the air bubbles and not building too thick, but many of us learned the hard way how sensitive micaceous clay is to air pockets and moisture. Despite the casualties many beautiful forms and gorgeous smoke patterns emerged from the coals. The processes we practiced these four days taught us patience and persistence, with the clay and with ourselves, and we all deserve to feel proud of our accomplishments.

    Many thanks to Jody, Susan, Polly and Kaa for generously sharing their skills, patience and creative flames with us.   

    Small Pots ready to carve and fire.

    Pit Firing with cow patties.

    Pit Firing.

    Pulling the cooling pots.

    Picture  above shows Folwell Family, left to right: Eden Radfarr, Jody, Polly, Kaa and Susan Folwell, Kaa’s children


    Ed note:  This workshop expanded on our “conversation” with Santa Clara potter, Jody Folwell. We had a previous workshop with Jody in 2013 and also a session with Jody as part of our 2014 New Mexico Connections workshop. 

  • 31 May 2019 4:44 PM | Jacquita Beddo

    Jack Roberts and Joe Bova carpentaryGhost Ranch Volunteer Camp 2019 By Barbara Campbell and Judy Nelson-Moore. Since 2008, NMPCA has held a formal volunteer camp at Ghost Ranch nearly annually to maintain the ceramic art facilities, continuing the more informal work that had done for years prior.

    This is a responsibility and a privilege that NMPCA has undertaken to achieve the joint goal to promote the ceramic art studio as a resource for workshops. This year, 2019, we have a formal letter of agreement with the Ranch that describes the relationship Ghost Ranch and NMPCA have had over the last 40 years. This renewable agreement makes communication and coordination easier for both parties.

    What a great work crew we had this year for the volunteer camp. It was smaller than some previous years, and a few people could only come later or on Saturday, so initially it seemed really small at 1:00 Friday afternoon. The good thing about this was that we got fairly organized and into our respective jobs, collected materials and totally prepared for working hard on Saturday. 

    We want to give special mention by name to all of the generous and hard-working participants: Barbara Campbell, Judy Nelson-Moore, Luisa Baldinger, Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, JB Bryan, Daisy Kates, Michael Thornton, Joe Bova, Penne and Jack Roberts, David Canfield and his sister Diane Bywaters. Barbara Campbell Leads Us

    One major activity was to add a second coat of plastering to the fume kiln. The first coat had a dead white color, so Judy and Luisa had the idea of putting iron oxide into the plaster mix for the fume kiln and it looks beautiful. Between the metal kiln, the raku kiln with its silver tarp, and the gray gravel of the yard, having a red iron kiln really livened up the visuals in the yard.

    In between other tasks, the group gathered together to discuss the issue of “What do we call the “post Pot Hollow” ceramic art studio. Cirrelda led us in a brainstorming session. We discussed criteria for the name.  Among these were something that rolls off the tongue easily, something short and easily identifiable to what it is, and something including “Pinon” since that is what is on all the maps at the ranch. Then, we threw out many ideas for names.  A vote was held and was unanimous (except for one to keep us honest) to select “Pinon Pottery” as the new name of the ceramic art studio.

    Joe, with Jack’s help, got the last two bays walled in with the lath and shelves and the portal now looks really finished.  We were able to borrow an air compressor from the ranch and with it and the other parts donated by Katy Sheridan (Joe had to do some jerry-rigging with the parts to make them work), but Joe was able to get the new construction painted and finished. 

     Daisy and Michael installed new elements in the Olympic kiln (Daisy, bless her heart, spent a great deal of the weekend bent over and partially upside down). The Olympic kiln is now running on all cylinders and will certainly even get up above bisque temperatures. While I was off getting materials, the Bailey kiln in which the melt down disaster took place was evaluated and judged possible to be fixed. Michael is going to work on it again this summer while he is at the ranch taking over my classes for me and we will get the final verdict later in the summer. The Ranch is going to put in new transformers and double or triple the electric output we will be able to tap into at the Piñon Pottery site and then get all our kilns with their own plugs and perhaps the potential to run them simultaneously. There is still talk with the ranch about replacing the wood fire kiln and we discussed a potential site for it that would not put any structures or foliage at risk. The spot is in front of Piñon near the horno where we could have our stack of wood delivered without having big trucks trying to get out back to the kiln yard. We are still discussing this, so if anyone has suggestions, they would be welcome. Cirrelda did a marvelous job on the yard and grooming the plants (she doesn’t like to call them weeds) and the whole area looks so clean and cared for now. JB did a terrific job organizing the studio closest which had become a disaster of disorganization. Penne and Cirrelda and JB also floated between job sites and made themselves indispensable filling in and helping out.

    We were blessed to have the participation of a new Member, David Canfield who brought his sister along. David was going to drop out due to a very bad accident he had a few months back, but I told him that there were going to be two or three others of us who were recovering from bad accidents and surgeries and we would find him something more intellectual to do. His sister, Diane, came out to help him with his recovery and be his driver for the time being and between the two of them we now have a User’s Manual for the new Piñon Pottery site. It was a huge job and we owe Diane a large debt of gratitude and a huge thank you to David for bringing her. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief as there really was no time for Judy, who was out there plastering with Luisa for the duration, to work on it, nor did I have time to do much but offer a couple of pointers about what needed to be included. The proof reading will be done soon and then it can be edited and added to as needed and then sent out to the board for approval. Once all that is done, we will most likely post it on our web site and keep copies in the studio and on file with the maintenance department at the ranch. Yeah, Diane and David!!! The Ranch was very supportive of all our work and lent us tools and a golf cart and found forgotten items and building materials for us. The weekend was a really productive and a very positive experience. I think we all had a really good time with old friends and new acquaintances that became good friends by the end of the weekend. A big warm thank you to all who participated. 

  • 11 Jun 2017 4:13 PM | Jacquita Beddo
    Debra Fritts

    Debra Fritts has been a juror for the Celebration of Clay in the past so we are fortunate to have her back to do this again for the 2017 Celebration of Clay. See more information about the Celebration of Clay exhibit on our special exhibit website: Below is some information about Debra.

    Debra is a studio artist working in Abiquiu, New Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Education from the University of Tennessee and continued graduate studies in ceramic sculpture, painting and printmaking. Debra currently conducts figurative sculpture workshops at her studio, and master classes nationally and internationally.

    Work by Debra Fritts

    Work by Debra Fritts

    Debra has national recognition for her work in ceramic sculpture through invitational exhibitions and awards, museum exhibitions and collections, gallery representation, private collections and publications. Her one of a kind sculptures are hand-built and multiple fired with a painterly glazed surface. The work is a continuous story of awareness and the celebration of daily living.

    Debra Fritts' Work

    Debra Fritts’ Work

    Tags: Abiquiu, Celebration of Clay, Debra Fritts, featured

    By Jacquita Beddo in Celebration of Clay 06/11/2017

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