More than 38 years ago, I left an academic career in biology to immerse my hands and head in the making of pots, first in Fairbanks, Alaska and now on Saltspring Island, B.C. I learned the basics, and much beyond, from Al Johnsen at the University of California Santa Cruz, and from Dean Schwarz of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Both were steeped in the Bauhaus tradition brought to this hemisphere by Ms. Marguerite Wildenhain. Serendipitously, one of the many workshops important in my development was given by Ms. Wildenhain. But most of my understanding of clay as an artist’s medium has come from the mistakes, failures, hopes and successes the wilful clay throws our way.
My primary goal is to create work that synthesizes beauty and harmony both in a functional and a decorative context. My earlier work centred on wheel-thrown functional forms decorated with the geometric and organic/abstract patterns that I love. Now my pots span a broader range of shapes using a variety of forming methods and serving more decorative and ritual ends. Surface decoration is still a primary creative outlet and it is achieved both by slip-carving and impressing the malleable clay. Occasionally pieces are finished by glazing or by smoking in a saggar. No two pots are ever alike. – Judy Weeden