I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT CLAY! I have played in clay for 40 years, trying out many of the techniques clay offers. While doing this I have taught art, language arts, special education - all of which brought much satisfaction, but clay has always been my joy.
I make both utilitarian vessels and sculptural work in clay. Every pottery piece is an aesthetic statement defining my relationship to the world, the work’s purpose, and the viewer. Both the piece’s surface and its use are ways to interact with the user. I am thrilled to have people see and use my pottery.
I mix both the clay and the glazes for my wares, firing to various temperatures in various kilns. I developed the smoke firing technique my husband, Ross Jesswein, and I use with our platters and taught Ross how to fire.
Ross kept altering the barrel that we fire in and made it work better and better. He chops Oregon hard woods for HOURS to produce our pottery. The colors we achieve come, not from glazes, but from oxides and outdated drugs applied to the surface.
Platters are thrown upside down on the potter’s wheel. The horsehair platters I make are low fired so they are soft and porous. To get the carbon of the horsehair to make a permanent mark on the platter, the body must be open and not vitrified.
After a first firing, the platter is returned to the fire. When the temperature is up to over a thousand degrees Fahrenheit, the piece is pulled from the kiln, using lots of safety devices, and the horsehair is applied at just the right moment in the cooling. Its ash creates the patterns. Afterwards, a sealer is applied so that the piece will have sheen and be easily cleaned.
The smoke-fired platters are thrown the same way, up-side down on the potter’s wheel. Later, the front surface is smoothed and a layer of super fine clay, called terra sigillatta, is applied. Then after a first firing, the platter is returned to a hardwood fire and various metals are burned onto the surface.
These platters are decorative and not designed for daily use. A leather loop is imbedded in the platter’s base to facilitate hanging.
My ceramics can be found at the Guild Gallery & Art Center in Kerby, and I also sell my work at several Oregon ceramics shows – at Ceramics Showcase in Portland, at Clayfolk in Medford, at Clayfest in Eugene, and at Wildfire in Bend.
MY PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS INCLUDE: The Oregon Potters Association, Clayfolk, the Pottery Council of the American Ceramics Society, the Clay Guild of the Cascades, and the Southern Oregon Guild of Artists and Artisans.