Alan Potter: The Process
The majority of my work begins with a slab of clay. The piece is cut from the slab, folded and manipulated to achieve desired shape. Once dried, bisque fired and glazed, the piece is placed in a propane fueled kiln and brought to approximately 1850 degrees F. At this point, the kiln is opened and thepiece is pulled and placed into a reduction chamber with a combustible material (for me, a small trash can and newspaper). Once the paper ignites, the can is covered until the piece cools. It is then removed, cleaned and ready for display. Raku-fired clay is not food safe and should be kept from direct sunlight and contact with water.
Since very young, I knew I wanted to be involved in the arts in some capacity. From coloring books, (frustrated I could never stay inside the lines) to sidewalk chalk drawings, to playdough (my God, playdough!) I would spend hours on end creating; thinking I was great. At least my Mother said I was.
It wasn’t until much later, I found clay.. grownup playdough! I was attracted immediately, especially to hand-building. Unlike wood or stone or plaster, clay is relatively forgiving. Mistakes become stages of evolution. This is not to say clay doesn’t have its own temperament. The properties of clay and the fact it’s an organic substance gives it a personality and is therefore subject to its own dispositions. If the mood ring reads black, it’s best to just back away and find a nice coloring book.
The subjects I choose and the process of raku-firing are aspects of my work that have evolved over time. The animals I select have certain distinctions which lend themselves to my style. Simplicity in design and a touch of personification, brought together with the organic nature of raku brings the creatures to life.
People ask me, “Do you like animals?” Initially my response was, “Who doesn’t?”, but after some thought, I realized I do like animals. But it’s more than that. Respect… Awe… Fear? To say you just ‘like’ animals is to trivialize their stature. I think they deserve more. All I can do is couple these feelings with the animal’s natural splendor to try to create something great. At the very least, my mother will think it is.
I graduated from Trinity College of Vermont in 2000 with a BA in Craft/Art Entrepreneurship and now live and work in Southeast Arizona. My work is represented nationally.