NC Pottery Conference 2012

So much to take in……

Demonstrators from left to right: John Glick, Cynthia Bringle, Ronan Peterson, Martha Grover, Jack Troy and Jake Johnson.

I traveled to Asheboro, North Carolina this past weekend to attend the 25th North Carolina Pottery Conference put on by the Randolph County Arts Council under the incredible leader, Dwight Holland.  This is an annual event that occurs in March and always in Asheboro, right outside Seagrove.

The conference included six demonstrators and four slide lecturers.

Three of the demonstrators are considered to be America’s great potters and they each invited a new, up-and-coming ‘great potter’.  Jack Troy invited Jake Johnson, Cynthia Bringle invited Ronan Peterson, and John Glick invited Martha Grover.  It was great to see such a variety of styles and hear varied life stories about a life in pots.

NC Pottery Conference - demonstrations

Martha, Ronan and Jake presenting at the 25th Annual NC Pottery Conference.

Confession time:  I never really thought much about John Glick’s work.  I just saw it as cone 10 reduction pots.  Somewhat boring, really.  After seeing it up close, how it is made and meeting the man, I have come to respect and like his work.  Really…. I needed to know what was so special and now I know.  Not only is John a giving, likable presenter, his work is full of layers like some great abstract expressionist paintings.  And you know what… until I took a modern art history class, I didn’t quite get the abstract painting thing.  Now I love it.

Some John Glick pots, slipped/decorated, and a few of his handmade tools.

Another ‘American Potter Great’ that I have ignored until now is Jack Troy.  I guess I never thought to look him up.  He is not just a potter but a poet – and he read and recited poetry throughout the presentation.  His pottery is like poetry – using deep seeded technique to create inspired, intuitive art.  Think of that, John Glick’s work is inspired and intuitive.  It may be that I need to work another 25 or more years to get to that point in my work…..  Anyway, I LOVED Jack’s tea bowls!!!

Jack Troy textures a teabowl

Jack Tory adds texture to a teabowl (Yunomi)

Jack Troy's texture stamps

Jack Troy's texture stamps and yunomi

Jack Troy's feet

Feet of Jack Tory's yunomi

Of the younger potters, I was impressed by Martha’s ability to share her work with an audience.  Her personality is fabulous for the stage and her work is so interesting that I got alot out of watching her work.  The TRUE TAKE-AWAY from the conference for me was her lided vessels…. she throws a bottomless pot with a flange, measures for the lid and throws the lid bottomless.  Then both will oval and fit.  DUH!  Throw the lid without a bottom (top).  Why hadn’t I ever thought of that!!!!

Martha Grover's Slab lid

Martha Grover is placing a slab on the lid of the box shown behind it.

There were so many highlights to this conference, just chuck full of information, entertainment, good company, etc.  I could go on and on but I will spare you the details.

I do have to put in a plug for the fabulous slide lectures, though.

One of the reasons I attended the conference was to see Walter Ostrom speak.  I have always liked his work and now I love his lectures!  He is a hoot!!!  He is an incredible historian, particularly when it comes to the tin-glazed pottery (majolica or maiolica) process which I love.  He is also an incredible landscape designer/gardener.  He lectured on the history of tin-glazed pottery.  The images he showed were lovely and the stories were entertaining and informative.

Sunday morning there were three lectures; all of which were full of important history of pottery – Bob Armfield spoke about the Auman family and their work to put Seagrove back on the map as a pottery destination; Mark Hewitt spoke of his pottery history (it goes back generations in England- who knew); and Louise Cort from the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian spoke of pottery collectors in Vietnam, Japan and America.  This was a great take on the traditional historical slide lecture; focusing on how the tea ceremony in Japan created pottery aficionados, rice beer in Vietnam brought about international pottery treasuries and … oh – I forgot the American take.  Ooops….

The conference kept me up nights and I am still recovering.  The amount of information I got will still bubble in my brain for months.  I especially enjoyed my conversation with John Glick about critiques (especially of my own work)  and of growth.

I need to thank Dwight Holland for his work in organizing this annual event, and John Glick for giving me his ear and wisdom.

Thanks for reading my short post.  I could’ve gone on and on….

Be sure to check out all the artists listed here – and make plans to attend next year’s North Carolina Pottery Conference!  It is a great experience!

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