Log in

The Slip Trail Blog

Log in
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 
  • 02 Oct 2020 4:34 PM | Jacquita Beddo

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


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

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

    An excellent investment of Armstrong Grant funds!

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

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

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

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

  • 24 Mar 2020 11:36 AM | Jacquita Beddo

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

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

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

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

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

    Contact Svetlana at

  • 02 Feb 2020 1:31 PM | Jacquita Beddo

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

    History of Ghost Ranch Fume Kiln

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

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

    Jim Kempes, via email, 2/2/2020

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Conclusions: These are the conclusions of the participants:

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

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

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

    by Judy Nelson-Moore

  • 09 Jan 2020 11:58 AM | Jacquita Beddo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by Layne Vickers Smith

  • 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

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 

We call ourselves the NMPCA!