Gay Smith

June 2010

Vibrant Pots: Form, Surface, and Soda Firing

Course Description
In this workshop we will explore ways to make lively, exciting pots. We will glaze bisqued pieces and fire them in a soda kiln, and we will work with altering the form and surface of freshly thrown pots. Form and surface treatments, including slips and glazes that are particularly responsive to the effects of soda firing, will be covered. Squaring, ovaling, fluting, faceting, altering lidded forms, feet, and handles will be amongst techniques presented. Also on offer will be lively conversations ranging over our interests, passions, aesthetics, including raw glazing, single firing, and firing a soda kiln. Please bring your bisque ware for our soda firing. Some experience on the wheel is necessary for this class.

Supply List
bisque ware for firing in the soda kiln (plan to bring 8-12 pieces)
basic pottery and throwing tools such as sponge, needle tool, rib(s), wire tool, twisted wire, string tool, trimming tools, fettling knife, calipers
wooden ribs, or other straight edged tools such as rulers
stamps, or tools for impressing into clay surfaces
bats and bat pins (NB: the Shakerag studio has bats but not bats with pin holes)
sketchbook or notebook, pencils, pens
favorite quotes, favorite books
slides or photos of your work
source material, pictures, Xerox copies, etc. of what appeals to you, what you would like to incorporate in your pots in some way.

Artist's Statement
These days, as I contemplate living as a practicing artist on a planet facing extraordinary shifts, I imagine the benefit the work of my hands and heart might bring. I am blessed to live where fireflies continue to emerge on the first warmest spring night, where earth and weather continue to miraculously transform seeds into food. We live synergistically within an evolving globe of blue, swinging wildly and delicately in a galaxy among galaxies. How does my work as a potter contribute? Perhaps, this work develops qualities which may be of benefit: caring attention, commitment, honesty, courage, passion, hard work, love of beauty, and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty.

Simple pottery, like cups, may be made consciously to hold and serve nourishment. Objects designed to bring pleasure and joy with use and touch. The continuing, primordial, mysterious act of creation links us with that process and the essential raw materials of which we and these pots are made: earth, water, fire, air.
Are these objects the artist's philosopher’s stone? Dirt transformed to gold?
Do consciously made pots carry some ineffable ability to transform and heal?
What lies embedded in the stone of fired clay by the creative alchemical bond between material, process, and person. What may be conveyed through use or enjoyment?
A hand grasps a handle; compassion arises in the heart.
This is what I intend.

Artist's Biography
Gay Smith, aka Gertrude Graham Smith, is a studio potter educated at Harvard University, the Findhorn Foundation, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Penland School. She single fires porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland School. She held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana and at Penland School in Penland, North Carolina. Her teaching credits include workshops at Penland School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the Harvard Ceramics Studio, and the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland. Her work is shown internationally and can be viewed in publications including Functional Pottery and Mark Making by Robin Hopper, and Working with Clay by Susan Peterson. She was featured in the April 2007 issue of Ceramics Monthly. In 2006/07, she received a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship award for 2006-07.

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