Grad School, Making Pots

Forces of Nature: Gala Centerpieces


Recently we, the students of the Applied Craft + Design MFA program, were asked to design and produce centerpieces for the annual Gala fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (my MFA program is a collaborative effort between PNCA and the Oregon College of Art and Craft).  The request came a month or so into spring semester and seemed reasonable enough: to produce 10 or so centerpieces valued at $100 each, no bigger than 1 cubic foot in volume.  As a potter, this seemed to be a piece of cake, and last semester I had produced a series of vessels quite appropriate for this event, which had an industrial/marine theme.  The pieces would be for sale, with 50% of the proceeds coming back to the artists.  I didn’t even blink before I said “yes, I’m in!”


In reality, it was not a piece of cake, as my production schedule became crammed into one week, along with another custom project.  In the end I was asked to make 13 centerpieces, and together with the 13 salad bowls for the second project I threw 200+ pounds of clay in a matter of days.  I was amazed to emerge from the studio unscathed and finished ahead of schedule!  How about that!  Really, what this experience showed me is that I am actually capable of so much more. And so the bar rises…



Make sure to click on each image to get a better, more close-up view of the dynamic activity in the surfaces of these pieces.  Each was thrown as a thick, slightly bellied-out cylinder, then coated with layers of underglazes and slips, from electric blue to white.  Then, each piece (from 9-12 inches tall) was distorted from the interior.  As the clay distended, under layers of color and the porcelain beneath were thinned or revealed, producing even more shades of blue.  Each push of my fingers or thumb inspired the next.  I see each piece as a 3-dimensional painting, where paint and canvas share and swap their traditional roles, and the piece is composed from both sides of the canvas.




7th Annual Blossom Fest Sale

Blossom Fest 13 Flier

In a couple of weeks I shall crawl out of the cave of graduate school for a couple of days and drink in the fresh woodsy air of the Hood River Valley.  Oh, and I’ll bring some pots along with me.  But really, it is time for my annual studio sale, where I clean out the closet and debut the results of winter’s work.  This winter has been one like none other, too, since I’ve become a student once again.

I’ll write a bit more later about the sculptures I’ve been working on the past few months, but let me give you an idea of what inspired the cups you see in my flier.  Here are some images of vessels and paintings I made last semester.  Let’s just say I loosened up a little.


All things Dutch – can be found with a bicycle!

My husband and I toured a bit of The Netherlands over a year ago, mainly day trips based out of Delft. It changed the way I view the role of transportation & its effect on quality of life. These photos from Love thy Bike really make me miss that windy, flat, bicycle loving land.

Love thy bike

After a non stop tasting of Gouda cheese our bellies look like well-rounded wheels, we could easily roll out of Gouda, instead we are pedalling.   Today, where ever we end up, we will have to catch a fast train to the Hook of Holland.  We have a ferry to catch back to England.  Rotterdam seems a good place to catch a train.  Our destination is decided.

The open pastures of dairy-farming lay before us.  The distinct black and white blots of the Friesian cows surround us.  As they munch happily on the lush green grass we pedal with smiles on our faces… this scene is a reminder of home.  The three of us feel as if we are back in rural New Zealand.

Canals and drains break up the pastures and our pebbly cycle trails criss crosses each other like something from a crossword puzzle.  It begins…

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Public Art, Shows, Uncategorized

Coming Soon: Design with the Other 90%: CITIES

Praça Cantão, Favela Painting Project
Artists: Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, Haas&Hahn, with Santa Marta favela community youth. Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2009–10. Photo: © Haas&Hahn for

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES opens this weekend in Portland.  The exhibit is actually divided between two locations, the Museum of Contemporary Craft and the Mercy Corps Action Center.  Here’s a snippet from MoCC’s site about what we can expect from this exhibit:

…explores innovative approaches in urban planning, sustainable design, affordable housing, entrepreneurship, nonformal education, and public health happening in these communities to ensure their residents a brighter future. CITIES features sixty projects, products, and proposals, organized into six themes, that shine the spotlight on communities, designers, and architects, as well as private, civic, and public organizations that are working together to address the complex issues arising from the unprecedented growth of informal settlements in emerging and developing economies.

I am very much looking forward to this show, as it ties directly in with themes I’ll be exploring as a graduate student, beginning in just a couple of weeks.

Grad School, Uncategorized

Finally…Grad School!

The big news: after 10 years of dreaming, scheming, creating, fretting, failing, discovering, and succeeding, I’m going to art school!  This fall l will enroll as a student in the MFA in Applied Craft and Design program offered, in collaboration, by the Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Oregon College of Art and Craft in the great city of Portland, Oregon.  I say “this fall,” but my program begins this Monday, 8/20, with a two-week design/build project, in which all in-coming grad students are suddenly thrown together to create a space with a very real purpose for a very real client.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard we will be building a Bike Hub, a community bike center, in the New Columbia neighborhood of North Portland.  This project has been years in the making, thanks in large part to the Community Cycling Center, a local non-profit which believes “the bicycle is a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change.” Since I found inspiration in the Netherlands last summer I’ve come to believe quite strongly that safe, accessible forms of active transportation, like bicycling, are vital to the formation and longevity of vibrant communities and the overall livability of our city.  The coincidence or serendipity of the chain of events which has led me to this program is simply remarkable.  Never in a million years could I have planned this!

What attracted me to the Applied Craft + Design program can be summed up this way:

With a curriculum focused on the development of a strong artistic voice, the realization of work for a specific community or client, and entrepreneurism that connects making a living with making a difference, the MFA in Applied Craft and Design is the only graduate program of its kind.

I contemplated a more traditional route: a highly-ranked ceramics MFA program at an established school like the University of Nebraska or the University of Minnesota.  These excellent programs have a highly competitive admissions process, many artists applying year after year before gaining entrance (because dozens or hundreds of artists are vying for maybe 1-4 spots in the program each year).  While some pretty incredible artists emerge from these programs, they focus on the individual artist and do not, as a facet of the program, emphasize the relationship between the artist and his/her community.  I believe, in the end, this may be to the detriment of future artists, for how we can make a living has changed dramatically and will certainly continue to evolve.  New paradigms are needed to prepare students for professional life.

I did apply to NE and MN, by the way, and was rejected by both.  But I am so glad!  Portland has become home to me like no other city in which I’ve ever lived. This city has inspired me to want to do more than just make art and be a traveling workshop presenter (every little potter’s dream, to be “famous”).  After two+ years of really living in the city (I live downtown), I better understand the importance of a strong, healthy community.  I’ve seen how design can have a profound effect on livability.  I want my career to have a direct connection with and positive effect on my community, and this program is uniquely designed (and perfectly located!) to help me do just that.

Galleries, Uncategorized

News & Happenings

  • For those of you in central Oregon, a new gallery in Tumalo (near Bend), is now carrying my work: ArtWorks! is located at 19889 8th St in Tumalo.
  • The marvelous ceramics collective that I joined relatively recently, Dirty Dishes, has moved to a sweet new space, but still in the Alberta District.  The new address is 3012 NE Alberta.  Kierstin Oliver, owner and operator, says “Dirty Dishes, home to Stone’s Throw Ceramics, is a space created for local potters and ceramists to show and sell their wares. Located in the heart of the Alberta Arts District, Dirty Dishes is a potters’ paradise packed with the whimsy and warmth of hand-formed clay.”  Check out her website for info on Kierstin and the other artists she represents.
  • And the most exciting news of all…my piece which was included in this year’s Strictly Functional Pottery National (my sweet little jar you see to the left), has been featured in the Autumn 2011 issue of Clay Times.  See it here (click on “View our dynamic digital edition — FREE!” and flip to pg 18), or purchase an issue and receive a studio poster insert, including my piece!  It’s so exciting and such an honor to be featured on a poster.  Clay Times has also decided to publish a 2012 wall calendar, which will include important “planned events for the clay community — plus eye candy from this year’s SFPN show.”  I don’t see them yet, but they should be available to order very soon on the Clay Times online store,
Photography, Shows, Uncategorized

Twist, a Photo Archive

Well, I took my show down yesterday.  Overall, I’d say it was a grand success, but I’ll never again agree to do a show like this with only two months notice!  The reception was lovely, and I was so moved that so many of my friends and family made the trek to Gresham to show their support.

I’d like to share with you all a photographic version of my show.  I’ve focused on my work, of course, but you’ll catch glimpses of some wonderful sculptures by Dan Alley, for his show entitled Writhe.  Enjoy!

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