New online course, second firing, and a great link

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A lot to report here:

First, my online throwing course on is now open for registration.  There are six weekly sessions, with the entire course content available for ten weeks.  This format feels like an innovative hybrid — somewhere between in-person lessons and watching pottery videos on You-Tube.  Students will have a chance to ask me questions and interact with each other in a course chat room.

Koos and Antoinette Badenhorst have created their school, starting with Antoinette’s own teaching and expanding to guest potters.  (I’m their fourth guest.)  My course covers throwing the basics of throwing cylinders plus a number of advanced projects, including lamps, two-part forms, several lid styles, enclosed forms, mugs and handles, oval forms, and elephants.  We filmed it in Saltillo, Mississippi in Antoinette’s studio.

Second, yesterday I fired my kiln for the second time.  Firing next to a construction site (we’re still remodeling the house) is more of a challenge than next to a functioning studio.  But I got lucky with the weather, in that it stayed overcast most of the day, so although temperatures were typical for Virginia in July, I was spared having to deal with direct sun.  Will post photos here when I unload the firing tomorrow.

And finally, I just discovered this set of Mick Casson Master Classes posted on Jiseys Blog.  Mick taught at Harrow and then ran the course during my second year there.  He was a warm generous teacher — one of the people I try to emulate in my own teaching.  I haven’t taken the time to watch the whole series yet, but I already know it will be a treat!




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Fired the new kiln for the first time this week!  Considering how much was new, the firing came out well.  Things were a tad under-fired and there was about one cone temp differential within the kiln, but overall it was a good first firing.

Front of kiln


Back shelves

Workshop at City Clay

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My friend Steve Palmer took some lovely photos during the workshop last weekend at City Clay.  Here are a few of them:



We had a great time together!

Getting ready to glaze and fire!

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My new kiln is fully hooked up and I’ve begun to dig out my bisque and resurrect my buckets of glaze.  Haven’t done a glaze firing since last September, shortly before we sold our Nelson place.  So I have quite a few pieces piled up in boxes, stored here and there — enough to begin learning how to fire the new kiln.  It will be my first time using natural gas instead of propane, and also my first time firing a “store-bought” kiln.  I’ll post results here.

Enrollment for my summer workshops is going well.  We have a quorum for the June 17-18 workshop at City Clay, and things are looking good for the July one.  There are still some spots for next weekend though, so it’s not too late to sign up.  Details on the workshop page of this website.  Registration at

Cely and I had a wonderful group at John Campbell Folk School — mostly beginners, with a few more experienced folks.  Here’s a small part of what they managed to make in one week.  Pretty impressive, especially considering that the majority of them were complete beginners on the wheel.

Pottery by Nan Rothwell


Functional Stoneware Pottery

Pottery Classes and Workshops

My pots are made to be used — to enhance the rituals of preparing and eating food, to hold flowers, to light a corner for reading. Making functional work connects me to the age-old tradition of artist craftsmen who make beautiful objects for daily use.

I‘ve been potting since 1969, yet after all these years, I still enjoy every aspect of making pottery, especially throwing and firing.  The alchemy of transforming soft clay into finished pots continues to excite and inspire me.

I offer classes and workshops at City Clay in Charlottesville, Virginia and at a variety of conferences and craft schools. I also teach an online course through  I had some wonderful teachers when I was first learning to pot, and teaching allows me to pass the favor on. Drop me a line if you want to know my current teaching schedule.

A Busy Spring!

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I can’t help but notice that this website has gone dormant recently.  That’s not an accurate reflection of my pottery activity, just of my unwillingness to sit at the computer.  In fact, it’s been a busy spring, with activity on many fronts!  Here’s a quick list:

I’m just back from a week in Mississippi where we filmed an online course in throwing stoneware projects based on cylinders.

There are more photos and details at

In addition to that online course, I’ve been teaching regular throwing classes twice a week at City Clay in Charlottesville.  There are several Summer Workshops coming up at City Clay, starting in June.  You can find details on the Workshops Page of this website.  In March I taught a two-day workshop at The Bay School in Mathews, Virginia.  We had a great time together and have scheduled another workshop for July, 2017.  I hope to be back at Round Hill Arts for a workshop on lamps later this summer.

Later this month, my friend Cely Chicure and I will teach at class at John Campbell Folk School.  Our class is geared toward beginners, but since there are two of us, there will be time and space for more advanced projects too.  Teaching an annual class at the Folk School is always a highlight of my year, and this year will be especially fun, as I expect that our son Alan will be joining me there to take a wood-turning class.  One year, both our kids got to come do blacksmithing — turning the week into a mini family reunion.

I’m still making pots too, albeit more slowly, in my studio at City Clay.  It’s been harder to stay on track since I have not had a place to fire them since we sold our place in Nelson County.  But things are moving along well toward our move into a new house in Charlottesville.   Carter is hard at work renovating the house, and my new kiln shed and kiln are in place.  Still need gas and electric lines to the new kiln shed, but I hope to be firing soon.  I’m scheduled to show work at my friend Kay Franz’s studio during the RVA Tour in Richmond in June.  It’s anyone’s guess whether I’ll have fired the new kiln by then, but it’s still a goal…

Here are the new shed and kiln (which does now have a chimney).

2017 Spring/Summer Workshops at City Clay in Charlottesville


Here’s the schedule:

May 6-7 – Take Your Throwing to the Next Level
A two-day hands-on workshop designed to focus on projects and techniques you are interested in pursuing. Projects will be set by the group, but may include multi-part pieces, thrown in sections; texturing using wiggle-wires and carving; altering thrown components into new forms, and adding thrown feet and pedestals to leather-hard bowls.

June 17-18 – Beyond Round: Altering Thrown Forms
A two-day, hands-on throwing workshop focused on extending thrown forms beyond the circle. Projects will include multiple ways to alter thrown components into new shapes; throwing multi-part pieces by adding rings of clay; texturing using wiggle-wires and carving; and adding thrown feet and pedestals to leather-hard forms.

July 22-23 – Cylinders, Cylinders, Cylinders
A two-day hands-on workshop designed to focus on multiple projects made from cylinders.  Everyone will make a lamp and will go home with lamp hardware to wire one of your lamps, plus printed instructions with tips about wiring. Other projects may include multi-part pieces, thrown in sections; and texturing using wiggle-wires and carving.

August 19-20 – Take Your Throwing to the Next Level
A two-day hands-on workshop designed to focus on projects and techniques you are interested in pursuing. Projects will be set by the group, but may include multi-part pieces, thrown in sections; texturing using wiggle-wires and carving; altering thrown components into new forms, and adding thrown feet and pedestals to leather-hard bowls.

Workshops are at City Clay — 700 Harris Street in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We’ll work from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm both days, with frequent breaks for food and demos.  Participants should be able to center clay and throw a cylinder.  Workshop fees of $220 cover snacks and instruction.  You may purchase clay from City Clay or bring your own.  Please bring packing material to transport your leather-hard pieces. Register through the City Clay website or by phoning 434-293-0808.  If you have specific questions about the workshops, feel free to call me at 434-263-4023 or email me at

Join me during the Artisans Studio Tour – November 12 & 13

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Happy Election Day!

This is a reminder about the Artisans Studio Tour this coming weekend – November 12 & 13.  Join me this coming weekend at Mary Beth Bellah’s studio (#15) during the 22nd Annual Artisans Studio Tour.  Twenty-three area artisans will open their studios, where they will be joined by guest artisans from around Virginia.  In all, forty-two people will show their work.  The Tour runs from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm this weekend, November 12 & 13.

Mary Beth Bellah is a quilt artist whose work involves a combination of cotton, wire, recycled elements and thread. According to Mary Beth, she has quite a broad interpretation of the word ‘quilt.’ Her pieces, which can be freestanding or wall-mounted, have always intrigued and delighted me, and I am excited by the prospect of spending the weekend with her in her studio. You can preview her work at her website –  Mary Beth’s studio (Number 15 on the Artisans Studio Tour map) is about three miles south of Charlottesville, just off Route 29.  A map, directions, and other details about the Artisans Studio Tour are all at

I’ll be showing pots from the final firings in my old Nelson County salt and stoneware kilns.  I got lucky with the last firings, and have some great new pots for the Tour.  Those kilns have been dismantled into piles of bricks and materials, awaiting reconfiguration as new kilns for some local pottery friends.  Meanwhile, Carter and I are buying a house in Charlottesville, and making plans for a new studio and kiln there.  For now, I’m potting in my City Clay studio and also teaching classes there. With luck, my new kiln will be up and running sometime next Spring. Details and photos of the new place will follow.

If you can’t make it to the Studio Tour, you will have another chance to see my newest work during City Clay’s Annual Holiday Open House at City Clay on November 19 & 20 (the weekend following the Studio Tour). The Holiday Open House runs 10:00 am to 5:00 pm both days. I’ll be there all day on Saturday.  The weekend display features work by teachers, staff, members and students at City Clay. There are directions and details at

And finally, if neither of those weekends work, you’re welcome to drop by City Clay any time to see my ongoing display of work.  Just look for the white cube shelf in the throwing classroom.

Glazing workshop at City Clay Plus a great bargain on a kiln for sale

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This coming weekend, I’ll lead a three-day workshop on Glazing and Decorating at City Clay in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Someone just had to drop out, so there is one open space available.  Contact City Clay  for details.

Also, my friend Roger Rood, who makes wonderful pots, has a kiln for sale. I went to see it this week and it’s a fine-looking kiln. He had it built in South Africa and moved it to Virginia. It’s at his former studio in Buckingham, Virginia.

Here are the details:
60 Cu.Ft. Propane-Gas Downdraft Shuttle Kiln (Car Kiln).
Factory (custom) made by Kiln Contracts.
Dimensions approx: 6 ft. 6 in. H x 6 ft. W x 7 ft. 6 in. D
Moveable by forklift on a palette via flatbed truck.
Lightly used for only 18 firings (very good condition).
Fires evenly to Cone 12.
6 inspirating burners.
Fiber module-insulated walls.
Brick trolley-bed, kiln floor, door jamb and chimney.
Insulated double-walled steel and fiber-insulated chimney extension.
Double-hinged, steel-framed and sheet metal clad kiln door.
Steel angle-iron framed kiln with sheet metal cladding.
Steel trolley-track and trolley-bed frame and wheels.
Located in Buckingham Virginia.
Sale includes 5 door bungs and 5 spare bungs.
2 thermocouples, pyrometer and gas regulator.
Silicon carbide shelves (see details below).
Hard-brick shelf props (see details below).
This kiln is top of the line quality and a reliable piece of equipment for the serious studio potter or teaching studio. It is easy to load, and has yielded some amazing results. This kiln has always been kept and fired indoors. I am selling it as I am relocating and am no longer active in the business. To order this kiln new today (alone without shelves or kiln furniture) would cost around $ 15,000 (factory quote from last year).
Sale price: $ 3,000. (Delivery not included). This includes 42 silicon-carbide shelves (23.5″ x 14.5″x 5/8”). and hundreds of shelf props in 8 different sizes. This is a great opportunity for someone setting up a production, or teaching studio.
Contact Roger for more information and photographs.

Fun workshop this weekend at City Clay

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We had a great weekend together at City Clay.  Everyone stretched into larger and more complex forms.  Steve Palmer, who took these photos, taught me a new way to make platters.  All in all, it was a blast!

Two more weekend workshops to go this summer — a three-day session on glazing and decorating in July and another throwing workshop in August.  Details and signup available on the City Clay Website.