Over the last several years I have been lucky enough to find myself surrounded by some pretty interesting folks here in the sweet old mountains of western North Carolina, who manage to fill their days doing such things as felting tiny baby shoes, hand stitching buckskin skirts, hunting for wild foods and mushrooms, building hand-hewn log cabins and straw bale cottages, growing heirloom vegetables and flowers, whittling adorable little wooden spoons, waltzing in the moonlight, making bamboo fences, and a thousand other things that I am daily fascinated and humbled by.
When I make pots it is with the hope that they will nestle comfortably into the lives of the wild and wonderful artists and farmers and musicians all around me and beyond, who seem to be forever raising the bar of what it means to walk around on this earth in a good way. I aim to create simple, sturdy tableware that feels and looks pretty good, and is equally at home on an intimate dinner table or on the floor of an old pick-up truck.
Josh Copus received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina in Asheville in 2007. He is the founder of Clayspace Co-op, a ceramics cooperative and gallery, which provides an environment that promotes the artistic growth and success of its members through cooperation and education. Josh is currently in the process of establishing his own studio and has recently built a workshop and three wood-burning kilns on his land in Marshall, North Carolina.
My work uses a centuries old technique called sgraffito to create very intricate patterns and designs. Each piece of hand thrown porcelain is coated with a black terra sigillata slip. I then use a very sharp knife to cut into the slip to expose the white porcelain underneath. This technique allows me to indulge in design and challenge my skills at the same time.
Over these last few years my work has become more personal. A refuge. An expression of beauty, love and grief all at the same time. I have always had a keen interest in ancient civilizations and the incredible art they produced. Those ancient worlds hold endless inspiration for me and always will. But I am now looking inside myself. Searching. Searching for what I have lost. In late April of 2014, Steve my husband, partner in clay and life passed away unexpectedly of an undiagnosed heart condition. This man that I spent over 26 years of my life with was everything to me. He was always my biggest fan but I now know he was also my biggest inspiration. A true artist. An amazing potter. Never have I worked in the studio without him by my side. The pots we made together were an expression of the love we had for each other and our work. I cannot help but reflect on what was. It has shaped my life to what it is. Moving forward is inevitable, but in looking back and remembering I am carrying along memories and ideas of all that we had together. Now I must look inside and find the courage and grace to continue what Steve and I started together so long ago. Steve will always be in every piece I make and every piece I decorate. How could it be any other way?
We have been making our pottery together for 35 years. Our studio is nestled on a hillside in Mars Hill, 25 miles north of the Asheville. The open studio space we work in invites the creativity into our style of work. Presently we are working on decorative work for the home and office. We work as a team in both the design and the making of the pieces. Some pieces are passed back and forth and others are done individually.
All of our work is made with our own custom high fire stoneware clay. The pieces are made using both extruded coils and slabs. Each piece is then altered using various tools to get to its final shape. The hardened surface is then carved to be able to accept the ash glaze which will flow into the crevices during the firing.
Our work is currently available at Ariel Craft Cooperative, 19 Biltmore, Asheville, NC and at our studio by appointment. 828-335-6456.
I am in love with the basic material of ceramics: wet clay. I have, for some wonderful reason, become comfortable with the language of clay so that working with it is exhilarating, frightening, mysterious...and totally satisfying.
While I have no academic background in clay, I have studied under some great teachers including: Kathy Triplett, George Bowes, Richard Notkin, Steven Heinemann, Yeh-Wen Kuo, Richard Burkett and Anne Hirondelle.
I am most creative when I’m working with restrictions. Some of my ceramic work for the last several years has had as its restriction - the ability of the pieces to hold water. Many of my forms are obvious in this, others less so. I think of these works as sculpture with a hidden ability to be functional. Other work I do is more obviously sculpture. I enjoy creating both.
The surfaces of my work are manipulated both before and after I fire them. I do a lot of “marking” in the wet stoneware clay and apply multiple layers of underglazes, stains and oxides. The pieces are usually fired many times to build up layers of color and texture. I rarely use glazes. With each piece, I force myself to do something I’ve never done before: a form, a texture, or a color, for instance. This means each piece is an experiment of sorts. It also means I destroy a lot of evidence, but it keeps the anxiety level sufficiently high and the joy of success addictively sweet.
Prior to my work in clay, I was involved with contemporary fiber for 30 years. Old man.
Barry Rhodes has been making pottery for over 40 years having started as an apprentice under Rick Berman and Glenn Dair in the late 70s at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA. His work is in many collections including the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. Barry has a PhD in Physics from Emory University and taught at Clark Atlanta University in the Department of Physics for ten years. He has retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Computer Scientist. Most of the time he is to be found at his farm house and studio in Sodom Laurel, Madison County, NC.
I am after the discovery of my pots, my place and my language, in this rich continuum of clay history. The work is rooted in functional design while expressing ideas of spontaneity. I do not need to extol the justifications utilitarian ceramics can play in today’s world. I am a potter, period. I am more concerned with living, moving forward. The act of working at the wheel, kiln, etc. is for me the same as a mechanic, a doctor, or a teacher. It is a life lived. The warmth and energy gained from daily life, allows me to create pots that are full of energy, and full of humility and reflect the changes in life I go through.
The pots I make are simple in form which is a great canvas for stamping, combing or just general pattern decoration. This pattern coupled with the rich colors of my palette and the gentile kiss of the wood fired soda glaze combine to create vibrant pots that are comfortable in the kitchen cupboard, on the dinner table or sitting on the mantel.