All of our pieces are handmade, one at a time. Careful attention to every detail is given to each piece. Visual and tactile appeal are qualities we always hope to achieve, however function is a very important aspect of our pottery and we strive to make sure that each piece "works". That is: lids fit, spouts pour, and handles are comfortable and balanced. There is a unique pleasure in using pottery that is not only visually beautiful but also functions well. The everyday activities of eating, drinking and serving food and beverage become a little more special using that favorite mug, bowl or pitcher.
We truly enjoy what we do and we strive to make work that is of the highest quality. In this age of styrofoam and paper cups, commercially produced dinnerware and plastics of all kinds, we hope that people who choose to own and use our work will feel a little more connected to the process of human creativity.
Our work cycle is typically a 2 to 3 week period of producing our work. This includes everything from preparing the raw materials to forming and finishing the pieces, attaching handles and drying the ware. We then bisque fire everything and spend the next few days applying the glazes. Everything is then loaded in to our large gas fired kiln where it undergoes a 2 1/2 to 3 day period of firing and cooling down. At this point the pieces are finished and we unload and inspect each piece for quality.
Although I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, as a child I spent every possible moment in the country exploring the woods and playing in creeks. The earthy tones and minimalism of my functional and sculptural pots reflect the nature that surrounded me as a child. I gravitate towards pots that are casual, quiet and appear to have grown right out of the spot they sit. My aesthetic falls into a minimalist category, less is much more for me. I am drawn to and hope to create pots that have an organic and natural quality to them. These are the pots that pull me in. Their irregularities give these pots a personality not unlike our own physical presence. I juxtapose minimalism, simple clean line designs that are unadorned but have a strong presence with aspects that are loose, organic, and casual.
My stoneware pieces are treadle wheel thrown and then modified with hand built components. Surface treatments are applied slips and glazes, natural ash and/or soda. My work is fired in soda or wood kilns.
Gruchalla Rosetti Pottery
We are a husband and wife collaborative team. Ideas are shared; each of us brings different skills into the process of creating our work. Carrin started out as a fiber artist... a tapestry weaver. She came into the pottery studio with her sense for color and surface arrangement more than 20 years ago. Richard's entire career of 47+ years has been as a studio potter, first making functional stoneware and porcelain in the Leach-Hamada tradition, and now working exclusively in raku. Our pottery is, before all else, a statement of form. We look first for the silhouette of the piece; the lift from the surface, the graceful extension from the foot to the belly into the curve of the body, the strength of the shoulder, the grace of the neck, and finally the finish of the lip. All the parts are connected, and all the parts should be cohesive. We call our style of work 'American Raku ' to distinguish it from the original, Japanese style of fast-firing and quick-cooling raku. (The Japanese did not put their raku through the smoking part of the firing. ) We do, however, try to follow the example of Donyu, the third in line of raku masters , who was noted for his innovation in the use of the raku process. We hope to continue with OUR innovation of this technique to produce work that will add to the library of contemporary American ceramics.
In the spring of 2003 a pair of Carolina Wrens took up residence in the rafters of my studio. I watched them raise two sets of babies over that summer. Day in and day out they would move upon the rafter calling down to me, always feeding their babies. The summer of Carolina wrens nestled into the depths of my mind, and over time I began to create work about that experience. In hindsight I can see a similar path in many of the pieces I design. They are born out of something outside of clay, and evolve over time. The theme that reoccurs most often is movement. I am always looking for ways to make the surface or the actual pots seems as though they have captured a moment in time. I balance this movement and life in the pots with a desire to make them functional. This is the challenge that brings me back to the studio eager to make pots.
The physical and creative nature of working with clay satisfies my desire to play, construct, experiment, and to get dirty. Patterns in textiles, architecture, nature and quilting inspire me to create works that invite touch and evoke a sense of nostalgic comfort. Early in the construction process, clay is soft and pliable; I enjoy building pieces that reflect these properties even after the clay has become hard from firing. I often make pieces with the intention of showing them in a grouping, as though they are conversing with each other.
Growing up in southern Ohio, I spent my early years watching my mother and grandmothers sew. Upon moving to Charlotte after graduating college, I did not have a clay studio in which to create, so I began to sew myself. Experiences with sewing breathed life into my clay work: patterns, textures and seams from fabrics and textiles inform design and formal decisions.
The isolation of working alone in my studio has heightened my awareness of the importance of people and true community in my life. I experience this community through sharing food, celebrations, worship, teaching, athletic competition, group traveling, and music, as well as interactions with the city itself. My desire for a sense of place and history while living within an urban environment is reflected in my work.
To be chosen, handled, and used as much as possible is my goal. My functional ceramic forms become part of your rituals, your every day acts of nourishment and enjoyment. Mugs, bowls, plates as well as jars, vases and a myriad of other useful objects are canvases for an abundance of color, pattern and narrative that elevate the often overlooked vessels in our daily lives.
Layers revealing themselves is in direct correlation to my belief that as people we present a surface that most do not move past. The obvious can become secondary, the secondary becomes tertiary as you reward yourself with looking deeper. A simple idea meant to challenge interactions while indirectly commenting on personal and cultural observations. The more you look, the more you receive.
Pete and Kim McWhirter
It was at a very young age that I was first introduced to clay. I was fascinated by the idea that you could begin with a nondescript lump of clay and create something elegant and beautiful using your hands and imagination. This was a process that I grew up being involved with. I was inspired by my parents to continue this journey of creating art that involves all the senses; made to be touched and used daily. Today working alongside my wife Kim, my vision is to create work that includes balance, beauty, and harmony. Work that is reflective of the place we live. Elegant yet earthy; functional yet graceful and artistic. Each day I look forward to creating table ware that people will enjoy using and with each pot, comes the inspiration for the next.
As a studio potter, I work diligently to make well-crafted wares for everyday people. It’s seemingly less about the “ritual of the table” and more about respecting a long tradition of craftsmen before me and discovering my own voice. As a contemporary potter, I often look to past traditions for inspiration. I’m interested in folk pottery of many origins. My native state of North Carolina, of course, offers a deep well of talented potters, both folk and contemporary, to look towards for inspiration.
Simplicity in form offers a broad surface for me to embellish with lines, patterns, and drawings. Before I was introduced to the ceramics arts, I did a fair amount of illustration before and during art school. The combination of three-dimensional forms and two-dimensional drawings was a natural fusion of both my love of drawing and pottery, art and craft. It is my intention to bring together clear and abstract markings to engage the viewer to look closely at how design relates to the form of the pot.
Ruth and Michael Rutkowsky
We are… Husband and wife potters, we share the studio Michael built. Together, we utilize the same materials for making reduction fired stoneware pottery. Michael, a studio potter for nearly 40 years and Ruth for 26 years, we have enjoyed ‘sharing our creative space’ since 2011 in Burnsville, NC.
Michael…I make a wide array of pottery forms that are both functional and decorative. My pots are an expression of my love for the process and medium of clay, slips, and glazes; all of which I have formulated and continue to make from the raw materials. Firing to cone 10 reduction, the outcome is never 100% predictable, which I find very exciting and rewarding. Mine is a non self-conscious approach to art using simple tools and materials; spontaneously allowing the ongoing process of the work to suggest its own variations, and encouraging a more intuitive approach to creativity.
Ruth…I am a potter and sculptor (both), and my work often combines the two. My functional pottery forms serve to ‘round out’ the rather large inventory of pottery Michael makes perhaps bringing a playful touch to the collective body as a whole. I use slip trailing, sgraffito carving, and wax resist emulating folk-art patterns of my Scandinavian heritage. I also enjoy making commemorative pieces, custom designed for special occasions. Sculpture for me provides a doorway to my creative expression, an indulgence I allow myself in search of my voice as an artist. My forms are both animal and human. Sometimes they are polymorphic, sometimes mythical. My sculpture can be used on the table top or wall, in the home or garden.
Fred Johnston and Carol Gentithes
Fred’s origins in clay are rooted in the southern folk pottery traditions of North Carolina. Growing up in the rural south has given him access to its colorful history and characters, which serve as a wellspring of ideas. Storytelling is a regional pastime consequently he questions how a pot can tell a story. He loves to play with idea of cross pollination between different cultures and is highly influenced by the power of nature. His shapes and images are bold, distinctive and imaginative.
Carol is best known for her quixotic sculptures. Handbuilt with coils, slabs and pinch pots, her zoomorphic sculptures can be seen in vivid color. Abstracting from mythology, literature and life’s observations, the subject matter ranges anywhere from pictorial witticisms to political commentaries.
Fred Johnston and Carol Gentithes met at Alfred University in upstate New York, graduating with BFAs from the School of Ceramics. Fred went on to earn an MFA in ceramics from Penn State. Both were artists-in-residence at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Tennessee, the National Estonian Art Academy in Tallin, Estonia and Sanbao International Ceramic Art Institute in Jingdezhen, China . In 1997 they moved to Seagrove, NC and established Johnston & Gentithes Studios where they continue to work, play and sell their ceramic innovations .
My work deals with three major components; complexities of function, the necessity for it, and surface modulation. The act of containing objects has always intrigued me due to the inherent significance, whether cognitive or not, that is placed upon a vessel to contain and or protect material goods of life. This has been a main vehicle for my art work; the co-evolution of human life and containment. With this in mind formal concepts are dictated by contemporary design and ergonomic needs.
The work is based around function and the kitchen, predominantly, the distribution or containment of sustenance. Surface modulation on the work is an exploration of line, color, and pattern as well as the integration of those elements on ceramic form. Physical interaction is of great importance to me; consequently the lids, “feet”, “lips”, and handles of pieces play a critical role within the work to be visually enticing and tactilely engaging.
Maria Dondero makes pots and teaches in Athens, Georgia where she lives with her husband and twin boys. She received her MFA from the University of Georgia in 2008 and has worked as a studio potter and professor ever since. In February 2016, Dondero started Southern Star Studio, a community ceramic center with space for artists to work and present their ceramics in the gallery. Her own work, marmalade pottery, focuses on kickwheel thrown functional pieces to be used everyday. Each piece is unique, with its own story to bring to your home. The pots are intended to be used daily, hopefully bringing a moment of lightness to one’s generally hectic life. The mid-range earthenware pots have an aesthetic that draws on the history of ceramics. While subtly referencing pottery traditions from around the world, Maria intuitively sketches images on her ceramic surfaces from her surroundings, grounding the pots in the Georgia soil. She is represented by galleries across the country, and exhibits her work nationally and internationally.
Being drawn to contemporary and traditional Asian clay— along with living in Western North Carolina— allows me to see how other potters are inspired by similar archetypes of functional ceramics.
I’m interested in the interplay between form and surface, and in the cycles of making, decorating and firing; it’s a difficult and rewarding lifestyle.
In 1994, after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Fine Arts, Becca, with husband Michael, settled for a time in rural Bryson City and discovered the beauty and diversity of western North Carolina. In 1997, they moved to the Asheville area, where she became a resident at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts.
North Carolina is a bastion of functional ceramics, and she has had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best potters in the United States. She continues her relationship with Odyssey Center as a teacher, and feels that teaching is an integral part of her growth as a potter, and a person.
Hona Leigh Knudsen
When it comes to making pottery I do what makes me happy. I am inspired by many things around me including the organic forms and colors found in nature, plants, flowers, the ocean, etc. I am always striving to find the balance between function, comfort, and beauty in my work. I create with the intention of bringing pleasure and enjoyment with the use of my pottery, whether it is in your everyday food rituals or while entertaining your friends and loved ones. Made with the purpose of enhancing your tactile experience, my work is influenced by everything around me. My work is wheel thrown porcelain, it is fired in a gas kiln to cone 10. I mix all of my own clay and glazes in my home studio in Copper Hill, Va.