What is your medium of choice? As a potter, it is clay – preferring a smooth non-grog clay.
Why have you chosen your current medium? I have always been creative but never really found my niche. My husband bought a wheel a number of years ago for him – well, I appropriated it. I love the feel of the clay and how you can mold it and shape it. It has been a challenge for me and a learning experience on many levels which keeps me going back at it each day.
Why do you feel art is important/relevant today? Art has been with us since pre-historic times. It has always told a story, given us imagery for our gods, given us peace and fear in its imagery, and it has evolved like we have. I think it is probably more important today than at any other time. We have become so wired through technology, we tend to miss the picture, the experience, the wonder that art brings us. Whether it is a song, a story, a painting, a sculpture, and in my case, a thrown bowl or plate, each brings something different to our senses and helps to make us whole. Without art in our lives, we tend to leak all over the place and have nothing to plug them up with.
What has been the most difficult challenge for you as an artist? So many things!! Developing the skill is a challenge in itself. Just as I was getting good and selling, I ended up with vertigo so had to stop throwing last year. Also, had my knees fined tuned and deal with arthritic thumbs. But… I am a bit stubborn and love creating – so, found some fixes to deal with the issues and am producing my best work yet. The other challenge is pricing my work. Although, it is probably something I shouldn’t talk about… I do a lot of shopping around and comparing things and believe I have come up with a price that fits.
Is there anything you'd like the public to know about your work upon purchasing it? Other than being happy that they did and I can now buy more clay to make more, yes. Each piece is made individually, individually, glazed, and thought goes into each design. Pottery isn’t perfect – it isn’t supposed to be (I have to keep telling myself that) but it will last for a very long time and I am glad to be able to bring something into your home that is useful but still art. Yes, our work is more expensive than picking up something that has been pressed into a mold, but then, it wouldn’t be art.
What is the most gratifying part of making your work? Seeing someone pick up a piece of my work, feel it in their hands and seeing their eyes light up.
Where do you find inspiration? Pinterest, Etsy, other potters, nature. Pottery has been around for thousands of years, it has all been done many times over, what makes it yours is your glaze, a little change here and there, and what you make things for.
What's your studio playlist? When no one else is around – 21 Pilots and Cage the Elephant station on Samsung Milk. When people are around, usually some Celtic, a little classical – basically a bit more mellow.
Where is your studio? We built an addition on to our house about 5 years ago. We just applied for a special use permit so we will be opening up that space to the public for sales and have joined the Top of Virginia Artisan’s Trail.
Favorite blog/movie/tv show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind. If that fails, Watch Kiki’s Delivery Service. One of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movies. We have an artist in a creative rut and a girl who has lost her powers to fly. It is usually because we are thinking about it too much so I love the down time and the remembering of keep it simple.
You have a time machine. Where are you going? I would definitely like to bounce around. Would love to see Great Britain in the times of the early Celts. I love the 20’s with all of its great clothes. When I was six – things were great then. Mostly, I love just being here now.
Share your process - bonus points if there's a story behind it. The process has evolved and still does as my business does. These last few weeks though have been wake up with the birds, do some work in the studio, after grabbing a cup of coffee, get my son off to school, grab a bit of breakfast and then back to the studio after looking at my list of what needs to be made that day – a new process that is really helping. Each day is different depending on what needs to be done. Pottery is a multi-step process including cleaning up the piece the next day and doing whatever is needed to finish the pot – such as handles, holes, etc., then there is glazing, and two firings, and the dreaded clean up. Some nights I go back in the studio to do work that is needed – clay doesn’t like to wait for people.
What's your dream project - if you had all the time and materials in the world? Make my own set of dishes and bakeware. I never have time for that.
What artists influence your work - who are your creative idols? Simon Leach, Bill Van Gilder. Both incredible potters taught by other incredible potters.
Describe yourself in 5 words. Creative, driven, caring, vocal, perfectionist
Describe your work in 5 words. Evolving, functional, beautiful, tough, handmade
ell us something funny that happened recently in regards to your artwork. I guess I must look for this more – or find more humor in the fact that a pot slumped and is not usable or a bowl blew up in the kiln.
How do you find balance? My husband and my son. Norma and I actually talked about this topic recently on one of our walks. When you find yourself out of balance, it really isn’t being out of balance, it is growth. As you change, your old ways of doing things, processes, etc change too which makes you feel out of balance, it really is just you growing and if you grow with that and recognize what it is, then the emotional upheaval that can happen, is minimalized. I actually think of my son when he was little and in a growth spurt, he would always fall over or as he got bigger, would bump himself a lot – you are just getting used to your new place.
Is there a story behind your blog/shop name? Yes, when my son was born almost 17 years ago, we did a circus theme for his room – even painting stripes on the walls…. We started a domain of harrisoncircus. I started a graphic design business a while back and called it Center Ring Design to continue on with our circus theme with the tagline of We put YOU in the center ring. Then I started the pottery. Well, one of the key things you have to do is center the clay on the bat, otherwise, it will flop. So, the name Center Ring Design stayed as the name when spoken sounds like centering. Our official real name is now Center Ring Design Pottery and Art Studio.
What's your typical day? Coffee!! Usually drinking coffee while checking how things dried overnight. After Liam is gone and Russ has gone into his office, I start in with whatever is calling for me the loudest. Each day I will be doing multiple things – glazing, throwing, trimming, firing, cleaning. Getting the shop ready to open this summer will me a bit of a change – that balance thing – but it will also include getting our new website shop up and open also. I try to close down around four – lately it has been six with a return at some point before bed to tackle any last minute items that need attention – like forming the spout on a pictcher.