Location: Austin, Texas
Website and shop: roryefoster.com
Social media: Instagram @roryefoster
Education: BA in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio
Full- or part-time potter: Full-time potter
Residencies (past and present): Summer 2023 at Casa TO, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
Clay Body: Aardvark Clay’s Black Mountain and Rod’s Bod clays
Firing temperature and atmosphere: Cone 8–10, electric
Surface treatment: Amaco Velvet underglaze
Forming Method: Slab building
Favorite tool in your toolbox: X-Acto knife
Describe your studio: My studio is in my home. The garage is where I build with clay, have my kilns, and store supplies. I like to sit on the floor when I glaze so that is when I move inside and spread my work around me—it drives my daughter crazy.
Best thing about your studio? The breeze and sunlight in my garage; the huge window in the living room that streams light in while I am glazing; and my dogs, always by my side.
Describe a typical day or session in the studio. I always make a list of goals for the next day that are both productive and accomplishable. I start working at 7:30am and continue working all day and, most often, into the evening, all the while listening to music or podcasts and taking breaks to play with my dogs.
Wish list for your studio? An actual studio separate from my house. It will be open with plenty of working and storage areas, clean and organized, and have space to invite people in for visits.
Describe the first piece you made in clay that you thought had potential/felt like your own style: A year and a half after I started working with clay, I made a planter that was not too warped (still working on this) and figured out how to get my colors to look vibrant but at the same time have a vintage feel. I also stopped carving. I told a friend that I was going to start drawing my lines instead of carving them and she said, “No, don’t, it will change your style.” I responded with, “Let’s see.” It was the most magnificent feeling when everything came out even better than I had hoped. She agreed.
What is your process for finding/designing new forms? As an observer of nature, I pay attention to how things look and how they make me feel. These experiences guide me when I am starting a piece. I want my forms to look and feel organic. In my designs, I try to think about the lines—do I want them to be curved and flowing or linear and clean? Do I want the colors to be bright and beachy or subdued like a desert sunset?
Favorite piece in your ceramic collection? I have a bunch of tiny bowls my mom brought back from a potter’s garage sale in Maine. We use them for everything.
Best piece of advice you ever received? My grandma told me to always buy quality shoes . . . they look nice, last a long time, and keep your feet healthy so you can use them to get you where you want to go. What I remember about the shoes in her closet was that each pair of them had a unique style, not your typical grandma shoes. I think that was the moment that I realized originality and quality were two goals I wanted to strive for in everything I did.
Best advice you can give to other potters? Create work that is 100% you. Learn and be inspired by others, but I promise there is nothing better than the feeling of knowing you created something that is wholly from your brain and heart. It shows.
To read more about Rory Foster’s forming and glazing process, see the article A Unity of Line & Color.