Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘pottery blog’

Clay Arts Vegas – Words and Patterns

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Last month my family and I went to Las Vegas Nevada, for a short family vacation and so I could teach a workshop at Clay Arts Vegas right before my show went up.  Since my son is five we had to stay at Excalibur, it wasn’t my first choice, but when you have a son that dresses up as a knight several times a week you have to stay in a castle if you have the opportunity.  Well, it was a bigger hit than we ever thought my Van never wanted to leave, and when we did he was always begging to go back to the castle.  We also took him to see the Tournament of Kings, Van had a great time, not even eating one bite of his Cornish hen, and he was so engrossed watching the knights battle each other.

I really enjoyed my workshop at Clay Arts Vegas!  Thom Bumblauskas one of the founders of CAV was a spectacular host.  I see great things in the future for Clay Arts Vegas!

One of the things CAV did that was different than any show I’ve ever been in.  They had Checko Salgado come and take black and white images of my work blow them up to 24” x 36” photographs to hang during the show.   Because of the cost of shipping, I only sent smaller pieces to Clay Art Vegas, so it was especially fun to see these giant images of my small vases and salt and pepper shakers blown up to such big proportions.





Checko also took great pictures during the workshop.  Usually my workshop pics are just quick shots from my phone and are nothing special.  These photographs are amazing.  I love how he captured everyone working so hard.

Thank you Clay Arts Vegas especially Thom Bumblauskas  and Peter Jakubowski and Thank you Checko Salgado!  I had an amazing time.  If you are ever in Vegas make sure you stop at Clay Arts Vegas.

As usual I am about a month late in my blog posting.  The show is down and CAV has moved on to their next show.  It was a grand time!  I hope everyone in the workshop enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, comments are continually appreciated, and it is always great to hear from everyone.

Images of New Work

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Time for Tranquility

One Day When I Grow Up

You Can Never Have Too Much Sky

A Place I Can Be Myself

Breathe Deeply and Repeat

The Alphabet


Contagious Inspiration

Back of Contagious Inspiration

You Are So Loved

Plenty of Love

Kiss Slowly

Bottom of Kiss Slowly

I’m so Lucky

Bottom of I’m so Lucky

Jim and Shirl Parmentier–Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011


This month Plinth Gallery Artist interview is with Jim and Shirl Parmentier.  The exhibition opens Frist Friday March 4.  If you’re in the area make sure you stop by!

Plinth gallery: http://plinthgallery.

The Parmentiers bring a team approach to their ceramic constructions. Starting with the initial design concept, they work together on all phases of the process, from shaping the forms to the decorating, glazing and final firing of the vessels.  The Parmentiers are recognized not only for their well designed forms, but also for their command of glazes and glazing techniques using wood ash. When fired, these specially designed glazes melt and flow into the carvings and crevasses on the surface to reveal a three dimensional quality.  With this continuity of form, alteration, carving and fluid glazes, their approach to vessel-making becomes a complete statement. – Jonathan Kaplan



Tell us a little about yourself! 

We have been making our pottery together for 35 years. Our studio is nestled on a hillside in Mars Hill, 25 miles north of the Asheville. The open studio space we work in invites the creativity into our style of work. Presently we are working on decorative work for the home and office. We work as a team in both the design and the making of the pieces. Some pieces pass back and forth and others are done individually.


 How did you become an artist?  

Jim took a pottery class as an elective in college and became a full time potter after 4 years of teaching high school. I always hand my hands in something creative while growing up and was instantly pulled in to what Jim was doing.


How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

In the beginning we started with traditional functional pottery. Soon after we began weaving with strips of clay and developed a line of woven clay baskets. These progressed into more elaborate shapes which requires us to work on them together. This technique has taken many years to perfect and is not done by any potter that we have seen. We still weave these baskets and also add woven inserts to many of our pieces. About a dozen years ago we had a custom hydraulic clay extruder built to extrude the strips of clay. We also had dies made for this to extrude 7” and 9” wide slabs for tile making. We found these strips to be much stronger than a rolled slab because of the extra compression the clay gets when passing through the machine. This allows us to make larger pieces because it has the strength and stability to hold up during the building process.


 What is your inspiration for your pieces? 

After this many years of working in clay, one pieces generally inspires the next. We also get a lot of feed back from customers. I am especially inspired by fabric for my carving designs. I’ll see a pattern I like and then I’ll keep working it until it becomes something uniquely mine.


 What keeps you motivated?

We simply love what we do. We have been very fortunate in finding the right pieces that will appeal to our customers. When working on something new it’s usually quickly obvious if it will have appeal or not. We are quick to admit failures and can easily accept criticism from each other.


 How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

No set exercise routine but we do keep active. Long days of moving, lifting, stretching in the studio is about what we get. We eat pretty healthy and almost always at home. No matter how long the work day is I still opt to make dinner each night. Having the studio on our property makes that easier as I can take a break at 5, do some dinner prep then put a meal together quickly at 7 or 8. If I come in late without a game plan for dinner then I’m a mess. I do all the cooking and Jim is a pro at cleaning up.


 You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

We became full time artists in 1975 and have never thought to do otherwise. We both come from humble beginnings so starting small and “doing without” came easy for us. We have always been conservative in our spending and never bought what we couldn’t afford. We raised 2 daughters, showed them a bit of the world and sent them to the college of their choice. They have now off into the world as strong individual women who now make choices of their own. Although they are both gainfully employed I know that the thought of self-employment holds a firm spot in the back of their minds.

We know of many young craftsmen in our area who are doing just the same as we did way back when. I feel it’s much tougher for them. They are dealing with higher costs and more competitive juries and for them I have the utmost respect.


 What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Keep at it and with hard work it will come.


New Plates and Salt & Pepper Shakers

Monday, February 28th, 2011


All the salt and pepper shakers together.

The first four plates are salad or dessert plates.

This is my first attempt at making plates….So what do you think?


Plenty of Love


Guilty Pleasures


You Are So Loved


This is The Year


This is the Year -  Dinner Plate and Salad/Dessert Plate.


This is the Year -  Dinner Plate and Salad/Dessert Plate and condiment bowl, that says I’m So Lucky.


This is The Year dinner plate alone.


Breathe Deeply


Invisible Strength


You Can’t Have To Much Sky


I’m So Lucky





Donna Polseno – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


Donna Polseno will exhibit a selection of her contemporary yet classic ceramic vessels at Plinth Gallery this month. Her restrained forms and lush, layered glazes have earned her two national artist grants, and her work has shown internationally. Donna has successfully transformed the pot into a provocative sculpture.Donna’s show opens during our First Friday opening night for Denver Arts Week.

For more information about Donna Polseno please visit her website.

For more information on Plinth Gallery please their website.   

Please join Plinth Gallery in welcoming Donna for her first Denver appearance, opening Reception, November 5th, 5 – 10pm.

Donna thank you for sharing your thoughts, I know this interview came at an extremely busy time for you. 

Sorry for the small text.  I can’t seem to fix it. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I have been a studio artist since graduating from RISD in 1974. My husband Richard Hensley ( who I met at the Kansas City Art Institute where we studied with Ken Ferguson) and I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains with a ton of clay that I made at school before leaving, because he had an injury at the time from a car accident. We rented a house for 50 dollars a month and made 2 rooms into a studio. We now live in an farm house that we bought across the way from that house. We never had regular jobs until 6 years ago when we started teaching part time at Hollins Univ. We share one job. We have two grown sons who were 10 years apart so it was easy to take them to craft fairs when we were young and doing that sort of thing. I count myself lucky to have this wonderful family. I started out making Raku pottery and made a sort of precocious start to my career, looking back. But after winning grants , awards, and good publicity for about 5 years, I changed my work and got dropped by books, galleries and fans. It was quite an eye opener and I spent a lot of time depressed at first, but learned a sense of who I was and a resolve to not let other influences rather than my own resourcefulness decide my work. I eventually started making 2 bodies of work as my vessels became larger and more figurative. Since that time I have always made pottery and figurative sculpture. Some people know me only as the maker of one or the other. But both are equally important to me. They feed each other in some obvious and some not so obvious ways.



How did you become an artist?

My father was a painter and illustrator. Like me he had two bodies of work to help support a family.


How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

I was just lucky when I was young to do that. There wasn’t as much competition either. My work has changed so much over the years I can not really answer that clearly. I hope I just dug a deep well, as Ferguson used to say.


What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My pottery is inspired these days by nature. I live in a beautiful place and want to be outside every moment I am not in the studio. The plants and grasses and flowers I incorporate into my work are all around me. My father was a nut about nature and he was also a bird painter and amateur ornithologist as well as doing landscapes. I started painting and now sculpting birds recently as an homage to him in a way.


What keeps you motivated?

Life. It is so full of wonder. I love using me hands and interpreting the world around me.


Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

Yes I am a full time artist. I can only say I rarely lack ideas, but it does happen and I get cranky. My mentor Wayne Higby told me when I was a student that I was very observant visually of the world around me.


What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

When I was in art school I was pretty much a hippy at first but one day as a freshman, Victor Babu showed slides of pottery from ancient to contemporary and I flipped out and knew I had to make that. I knew nothing. So unlike most people it was not the feel of the clay. My father thought I had flipped. You are going to make pots and pans he said. I did love it from first touch also.


What or who inspires you?

I love using pottery. My home and kitchen are full of pots. It is just who we are and what we do.


How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I take a lot of walks. I do Qigong, Bagua, and Yoga. I read. I study Italian. We have a small home in the mountains of Liguria in Italy. I get very recharged being part of another culture. We love to travel and have been lucky enough to travel work related to many places including China, Turkey, and Europe. One son and his wife live nearby, the other comes home for long stretches and Rick’s parents live next door so we have a loving family around and many long time friends. We are part of a group of other potters called 16 Hands and we are able to sell most of our work at home because of our group tour and these are our oldest and dearest friends as well. It all lends to a very busy but healthy feeling life.


You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it  for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

Just be resourceful. I have done so many kinds of work and approaches to making a living, I could write a book. But in the end it is best to say only to work hard, don’t get stuck on one idea or thing, try different methods and attitudes,be creative and positive. Hard times and mistakes are all lessons in their own way. It may not sound it, but I have had many hard times and have had to work like anyone to see those as part of the whole journey.


What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Only to put one foot in front of the other and see everything, not just pottery. It will come with sincere hard work and practice through your hands and your heart and by taking everything in.


Thanks Donna!!!

Happy birthday to my blog!! It’s two years old!! And Thank You!!!!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

When we started our adoption process, I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to make art, travel to workshops, and go to art shows, all the things that have been so important to me over the years.  Now that Vander has been in our lives for almost two years I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I do have less time for everything that I mentioned.  But it is really worth it. I can’t wait for Vander to be old enough to be in my studio with me.  I’m always so envious of Jim Gottuso sharing what Sofia has made; I hope someday soon I will be doing the same. For now Vander loves to come down and paint my paint my table with water, he paints his ABC’s, Elmo, and Molly our dog and the cats. 

My blog has helped me with my wander lust; I have visited many artists’ studios, by interviewing them.  I have made many connections with other potters, had great conversations, and had people help me with problems that had. 

So thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my blog.  You are invaluable to me.  If I knew what an amazing tool I had at my finger tips two years ago, I would have never had been worried.  And thank you to all the potters out there who maintain a blog, you have been my inspiration!!!  You have given me many daily field trips that have been priceless, I love being able to travel the world at the click of a button. 

I am the MASTER of my own BLOG!!!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I found out last week I won this blog award!!!  I’m glad that at least ONE person out there is reading my blog!!!!  I have no idea how I got on the list, but it made me smile.  If you’re interested in pottery blogs and don’t know where to find them.  Go to the link there are tons of great blogs on the list.  Lots of them are ones that I read and follow.


Richard Burkett – Plinth Gallery Artist Interview

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

19EDE0C2-9AA4-4360-A730-4D398F9FF146 Richard Burkett’s ceramics are contemporary interpretations of common pottery forms such as teapots, covered jars, and pouring vessels. Burkett is perhaps best recognized for his prolific output of cups, each one having a unique shape, a different glaze, and individual decoration.  His highly distinctive “Gear Cups” have bases and handles that resemble industrial gears and machine parts, and these whimsical pieces almost seem alive.  Burkett’s gear series is his most recent effort to balance the mechanical with the personal, and the impersonal with the poetic. 

Join him for an opening reception  on  “First Friday”, October 1, 6-9pm at Plinth Gallery in Denver, Colorado.Burkett’s work will be on display through October 30, 2010.

For more information go to Richard’s website

For more information on Plinth Gallery go to their website 

How did you become an artist?

I’ve always been interested in art and making objects, but thanks to a public school system that values science and math over art I was always encouraged to focus on those more “academic” subjects. I actually had advisers tell me that I should stay with science as a vocation and art should be an avocation. Luckily, I didn’t take their advice and during college switched from majoring in physics to art with a focus on ceramics. My first real ceramics experience was after my freshman year in college when I got a summer job making wheel-thrown ashtrays for the late potter Richard Peeler. I was hooked on working with clay, and the next summer talked my parents into letting me build a salt kiln in their driveway. After ten years as a full-time potter making mostly salt glazed ware, I decided to return to grad school. I’ve been teaching ceramics at the university level ever since, and continue making pottery and sculpture after over 40 years working in clay.0CE720AD-16B6-468B-9BCB-A4BC547C3E21 How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

I’m still working on that ‘signature’ look. I’m not really interested in that as it seems too formulaic, but I do tend to focus on small bodies of work that have a common theme. This exhibition, for example, has a sort of ‘gear-ware’ motif running through it. Much of my work over the years has had an element of repurposing of found objects and industrial cast offs. Sometimes, as in this work, the gears are clay, but other bodies of work have combined actual industrially manufactured metal parts as handles and spouts . A few of these pieces have cast bronze or iron lids and other metal parts that I’ve fabricated.31CB2C8A-C280-4C8C-871B-828767EB19AA What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I’ve always had a fascination for things that have been made out of necessity from objects and materials at hand. My first pottery was located on what had been my grandfather’s farm, and there were lots of things around that he had made during his lifetime that spanned the Great Depression when there was no money to buy anything. Both my grandfather and father were inveterate tinkerers and makers. Additionally, my father was a chemistry professor, so visiting his laboratory and looking at glassware other chemical porcelain has had a resonance in my ceramic forms.BurkettCups_002-001 

What keeps you motivated?

I love to make things, to see new forms emerge from clay.E2C87169-C3A0-447F-BE14-0F0070F80571Are you a full-time artist?

Yes, in that I teach art and ceramics at SDSU so I’m always thinking about art in some fashion, but I don’t make ceramics to support myself. I also play music, another art form. I think I live a pretty full creative life.BurkettCups_019-001

 How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

I usually work in series. Starting to make new work is always the hardest part. I often start by making objects that I’ve made before, and see where the variations lead me. I sketch work both on paper and in clay, and often revisit forms I’ve made in the past to see how I can make them better.


What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

My desire to work in clay was certainly inspired by that first summer job making ash trays for Richard Peeler. Other than some minor contact with clay in grade school, that was my first real ceramics experience. My dad taught me how to make all sorts of things, including how to turn bowls on a lathe. My mother taught me how to do silk screen printing one summer after she took a class. I remember always wanting to make things.burkettcups_013-001What or who inspires you?

Wow – a bunch of stuff. I’m inspired by the immensely rich history of ceramics. I’ve been lucky to have visited museums all over the world to see pottery from the past. I’ve traveled many times to Ecuador on a project to document indigenous potters and pottery there before it disappears. Diversity of form and surface has certainly inspired me. I love texture. I love industrial forms.Like most artists, I’m constantly in awe of natural form, color and surface. There are so many great contemporary ceramic artists out there doing wonderful work. All of these things inspire me, even though I may not be making work that seems to immediately draw elements from any of these sources directly.

burkettvessels_002-001 How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

That’s always a hard thing, especially when my main work is teaching at a university. I work in clay and play music to help forget the traumas that state bureaucracy inflict. Studio work is a joy that I try to savor when I can.BurkettCups_022-001

You, like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition to selling your work. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

I’m really not the person to ask about this. What I’ve learned so far is that I really don’t want to make the kind of work that I think I’d need to make as a business venture that was my sole means of support. I did make pottery for my living for about ten years after college in the 1970s. I enjoyed that part of my life, but I found I enjoyed the aesthetic interaction of teaching ceramics more. My best advice to anyone thinking about making ceramic objects for a living is stay true to your own aesthetic, your passions, and your standards, then find a partner or employee to do the promotion, office work, shipping, bookkeeping, grant writing, gallery solicitation, etc. that needs to be done to make it possible for you to make what you do best. It’s nearly impossible to do it all yourself.BurkettCups_020-001

What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Look at the world around you, study the past, look at the present, try everything. Then make work that integrates the elements that excite you the most from all this without directly copying anything, while synthesizing the best of everything. David Byrne said “If you can think of it, it exists somewhere.” Yet the field of ceramics is so broad and so complex that one can still find an original niche in one’s choice and synthesis of visual elements.


Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition “For the Table”

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition

“For the Table”

The Arts Alive! Gallery, Summit County Arts Council & Summit Clay are proud to present local & regional clay artists exhibiting functional & sculptural works in clay made specifically “For the Table”.

October 1 – November 11, 2010

Arts Alive! Gallery

Breckenridge Colorado 

500 South Main Street, Suite 2B

Breckenridge Colorado

Donna Causland 
Iris Bedford Peterson 
 Sharon Speedy 
 Sue Schmidt 
 Kathryn Resseguie 
 Sumi von Dassow 
 Connie Christensen 
 Connie Norman 
 Michelle Woods 
 Jenn Cram 
 Tara Wilson 
 Wynne Wilbur 
 Rita Vali 
 Nicole Copel 
 Pam Herring 
 Deborah Hager 
 Vicky Hansen 
 Donna Rozman 
 Cindy Searles 
 Sarah Houde 
 Lorelei Banks

Colorado Art Education Association attendees are invited to

Colorado Regional Clay Invitational Exhibition

“For the Table”

for a “Chili Sampling” reception

Friday, October 15, 2010  4:00 – 6:00pm

Posey Bacopoulos – Artist Interview

Saturday, September 18th, 2010


A few months ago I received a letter telling me that Posey Bacopoulous had images accepted to the upcoming book 500 Vases, (due out next month). I was very confused. I looked back at the envelope and then again at the letter. The envelope was indeed addressed to me. At first I was extremely disappointed, I thought my application had been rejected, and somehow  I got  Posey letter, instead of my rejection letter. What diabolical trick!!  As I went through the rest of my mail that day, I found another letter also address to me from Lark Books, this HAD to be the terrible rejection letter. But amazingly, it was not!! I had also been accepted to 500 Vases!! Now the mystery is how did I get Posey’s letter? I have no idea. I did throw it in another envelope and mail it to her. Thus our conversation started and I asked her to be interviewed on my blog. This is one of the more interesting stories of meeting an artist’s to be interviewed on this ol’ blog.

For more information of Posey’s work visit her website at 

Tell us about yourself

I am a studio potter living in New York City. I have lived in the New York City area all my life except for a time when I went to college in Madison, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin. My apartment is in Greenwich Village. It is in a big tall building and I am on the 14th floor so I have great views of the Empire State Building and west to New Jersey . My block is really lovely with lots of trees and beautiful old brownstones. My studio is in Long Island City and I get there by subway. I do not own a car. The trip door to door is about half an hour and I use that time to catch up on my reading._poseyMG_8499How did you become an artist?

When I was in school in Madison I studied European History. When I graduated there was not much for me to with that degree so I went back to school to get a masters degree in elementary education. I came back to NYC and started to teach elementary school. I was a classroom teacher and taught everything-reading, math science etc. One day I decided it would be fun to take a class at night and be the pupil instead of the teacher. I called a friend and asked her if she wanted to go with me. She said she had always wanted to take a pottery class. I did not really want to do that because I did not think that I was artistic. I had never had any art classes in high school or college. But she convinced me to go and that was it. Clay is very seductive and I was hooked very quickly. Teaching school I had my summers off and I started going to all the craft schools-Penland, Haystack, Anderson Ranch.posey1178How would your describe your style

Living in NYC it would be very difficult If not impossible for me to have a gas kiln or a wood kiln. So after spending a semester in Italy in the University of Georgia Studies Abroad program where we did majolica I decided to continue working that way. It is suited to my city life as it only requires an electric kiln. My style is a contemporary approach to the majolica of the Italian Renaissance. I have been working with majolica for the past 15 years. The floral motifs on my pots are patterns rather than actual representations that serve to divide the space in interesting ways.posey4066What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I like to look at Japanese Orbie and Mimbres Indian pots. I am inspired by the way that they use their decorative techniques to enrich their pots. Whenever I see a “good pot “ either old or new I am inspired to make my own pots.posey4073What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by the search to make “better and better” pots. I love to make pots and I love to decorate and I combine these two loves in my work.posey341079-R1-E002Are you a full time artist?

I am a full time studio potter. I find that one pot leads to another. If I try a new form on a mug and it works I will then try it on a pitcher and then on other pots. There are so many variations on single idea. It keeps me going. It seems there is always something new to work on.posey341079-R1-E007What made you want to start creating?

I took my first pottery class and was quickly hooked on clay.Posey%20%20Bacopoulos%20Flower%20BasketWhat or who inspires you?

I was lucky to be able to go to various craft schools when I was learning to make pots. I was inspired by the many teachers I worked with during these summer workshops. Also I have a large collection of pots in my apartment which I look at and use everyday. I am constantly inspired by them.posey_bacopoulos%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20scalloped%20PlateHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I do not always. I try to work during the week and take off on the weekends but it usually does not work out. I am often in the studio on Saturdays and sometimes on Sunday. I do take time to exercise and do Pilates two mornings a week. But my life does revolve around my studio.I enjoy being in the studio and working.posey_MG_5747You like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

I think of the business aspect as part of the whole process. It completes the pot when someone buys and uses it. The “business” is not as much fun as making pots but it is the end of the process that gets the pots to the user.poseyBAC-P-174What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice?

Make lots of pots and then make more. It is through the making that you find your own voice. It’s a process and lots of hard work but in the end it is worth it. 

PoseyB_0105 posey_MG_5756