I am a hack potter at best. It’s true. I make small cups for my espresso obsession and tall, thin vases to keep fresh flowers in during the summer. These pots offer me a blank canvas to explore new surface techniques, which keeps my studio time fresh and continuously engaging. Although I do use some of the pots I make, the process is often more interesting to me than the product. I like to think of myself as not necessarily working toward a final object, but rather studying as a life-long apprentice to the process. 

Some of the potters featured in this issue have engaged in master-apprentice relationships at some point in their careers—from informal to formal—and found them to be very rewarding. These artists have a deep desire to learn, to create, and to feel a sense of personal reward from the process itself.

Lisa Warr-King Packer and Harlan Falkin tasting wine from his amphora, 2022.

Harlan Falkin is a potter. He also likes to drink good wine, loves to travel, and enjoys historical pottery. Following a visit to a local winery, where he learned how the ancient Greeks fermented their wine in clay casks, he set out to research clay fermentation. Soon after, he was combining his passions at the wheel and throwing his own amphorae modeled after Greek and Cretan originals. Master wine maker Lisa Warr-King Packer benefited from her unexpected apprentice’s interests and was rewarded with several of Harlan’s handmade amphorae. 

On the other side of the country, a more formal version of the master-and-apprentice relationship has been in place for several decades. Under the tutelage of North Carolina potter Mark Hewitt, Daniel Johnston undertook a journey as an apprentice. What he thought he knew about pots and throwing going into the life-changing experience was far different than what he got out if it—a deep understanding of the vast legacy of potters who paved the way for him to excel. 

Mark Hewitt sits (front right) with Martin Simpson (front left), a potter from England. Mark’s apprentices stand: Daniel Johnston to the left, Eric Smith to the right, 2000.

Also in this issue, which focuses on throwing, Michael Lemke demonstrates making tall pitchers layered with jewel-toned glazes and Delores Farmer creates deep-veined surface patterns by expanding slip- and sodium-silicate-coated pots on the wheel. Alex Olson shares several ways to facet a pot. David Gamble returns to show us how he has evolved the simple egg cup to display produce on his countertops. And Shana Salaff teaches us how she slip casts wheel-thrown micro-vases perfect for blooming spring buds. 

As you take on the projects and techniques in this issue, remember, we may not all be masters, but we can all aspire to be good apprentices. Cheers!

- Holly Goring, Editor
Topics: Ceramic Artists