Clay body: Highwater Clays’ Earthen Red
Firing temperature and atmosphere: Cone 2 electric
Surface treatment: Underglaze and slip layering
Forming method: Wheel throwing
Favorite tools: Princeton Catalyst Silicone Brushes
Describe the first piece you made in clay that you thought had potential: I’ve had an affinity for surface decoration from the moment I first touched clay. My aha! moment came when I layered black slip under white slip with paper-leaf cutouts between. It was not a perfect bowl by any means but it set me down a path of exploration. Many pots later, I’ve developed a process that keeps me engaged in play. That little bowl is still in rotation with my family’s daily dishes. It reminds me often of the infinite possibilities of clay.
What are you inspired by? Flowers, nature walks, vegetable gardens, and preparing food are things that bring back warm memories from my childhood. They are part of my everyday life with my own family now. My hope is to connect with people through nostalgia and the little things that sometimes seem like ordinary, day-to-day rituals.
Who are your mentors? There are so many generous artists in my life and I value every bit of support they give me. In particular, Analia Howard is someone who empowered me with the knowledge and opportunities that set my path to making pottery professionally. She worked as the director of Claymakers in Durham, North Carolina, for over a decade and has since moved on from a career in clay but she remains my most trusted mentor.
Best piece of advice you ever received? A potter I admire very much once told me that I could not rely on artistry alone; it is just as important to develop good craftsmanship.
Best advice you can give to other potters? Never stop learning. Whether it is school, a community studio, a magazine, or an online class, don’t go it alone. Opportunities for learning can be found in many places.
Describe your studio: My home studio has great lighting and there is a drain built into the floor for easy cleanup. The pottery wheel sits facing a big double window overlooking my favorite hydrangea bushes and the yard where my children play. At the center of the studio is a large work table where you will find me decorating pots most days. Have I told you that there is a DRAIN in the floor?!
Best thing about your studio? Having the studio attached to my home allows me to easily multi-task working and parenting. It’s also nice to have a constant influx of hugs during those long hours of making.
Describe a typical day or session in the studio: My studio day usually starts late in the morning around 10am. My routine begins with tidying up and studio chores. A ridiculous amount of time in the morning is spent choosing which audio book or podcast fits my mood for the day. In the afternoon I begin to really dig into the day’s plan, breaking to pick up the kids from school and get dinner going. The quiet evening hours are where my creative energy really shines. I’ll often work late into the night creating a frenzied mess that gets left to be cleaned the following day.
To read more about Amy Irish’s forming and decorating process, take a look at Bowls in Bloom.