I started working in clay when I was 19 years old and visiting friends in England. Potting proved an immediate and powerful addiction. Within six months of making my first pot, I enrolled in the Harrow Studio Pottery Course, a full-time intensive training course near London. While not in school, I worked in potteries in England and Ireland. After returning to the U.S. in 1972, I potted in a studio in Crozet, Virginia and taught pottery at Piedmont Community College, for the City of Charlottesville, and in private classes.
I am married to Carter Smith and we have two grown children – Alan and Rachel. We have lived in Nelson County since 1978, where we built and lived in my studio for several years. As our need for space expanded, we built a house. The original living space in my studio now houses the pottery classroom.
Except for one break from potting while our kids were small, I have made functional pottery all my adult life. For many years, all my pots were salt glazed. When I set up to teach classes, I added a stoneware reduction kiln. A salt kiln does much of the decorative work for the potter – change and variety depend on where and how the salt fumes hit the work. It’s been fun learning to create that kind of variety using regular glazes. Now I have the best of all pottery worlds, with both a reduction and a salt kiln on site, plus access to firing with wood with my friend Kevin Crowe. Firing with Kevin, I’ve come to appreciate the way wood extends the variety and serendipity of kiln effects as ash and extreme heat transform the edges and corners of forms in subtle ways.
For the past several years, I have taught regular weekly classes in my studio as well as occasional weekend workshops. I find teaching valuable, as it forces me to examine my processes and visual decisions. Responding to student queries makes me try new techniques and forms. Teaching is an exhilarating exchange – one that challenges my set ways of doing things. As someone who has made pots in relative rural isolation for many years, I am always looking for new sources of energy and ideas. Presenting at conferences and workshops helps me keep my work lively, and I welcome any chance to do it.
I’m a charter member of the Potters Council, and have served on the Board. I’m also an associate member of the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville and juried member of the Artisans Center of Virginia. I sell most of my work in my studio showroom, during open houses and home sales, and by selling online through this website and my shop on Etsy.