Stained glass window
Clay Reflections on the Past and Future
Clay Reflections on the Past and Future

Special Collections and Archives Exhibition
James B. Duke Library
9 September - 28 October 2005

Bob Chance Artist's Statement

The works in this show consist of forms that reflect ways I have worked in the past and current ideas generated by looking closely at pots from a variety of ceramic traditions. My inspiration for many of these pieces has been buoyed by images of old wine jars and serving vessels during trips to Italy. I continue to draw ideas from Etruscan and Early Roman pots and to play with variations on ancient forms as a partial theme. Pouring shapes turn into bottle and basket forms in my drawings and become more fanciful as the process progresses (or digresses). Each piece suggests something else and therefore acts as a muse—an inspiration to later work.

While pondering traditions of serving vessels, I looked back at early Minoan pots--specifically Kamares Ware jugs which I always think of as vessels related to other, more contemporary, jug styles. A couple of the pots exhibited here are a tribute to the inspiration and shear beauty of those pots made in Crete in 2000 B.C.

Concentrating on shape as my main inspiration, I distort, cut, paddle and alter the wheel thrown forms in an attempt to create more active and distinctly different vessels. I see these pot surfaces as canvas—and as forms that are receptive to layers of often multiple colors while offering themselves to markmaking and distortion. The forms exhibited here have intentional textures and scraffito that emphasize the soft nature of wet clay that allows them to interact with glaze and thus create a subtle dialogue between form and surface.

Jay Owens Artist's Statement

My current work represented in this exhibit reflects my interest to make traditional vessels that are a canvas for explorations into color. With an early background in painting, I have an affinity for the design of the surface. I am exploring not only the overglaze but also the buildup of color with the opaque slip on the three dimensional forms. I look at historical Greek pottery for inspiration from the myriad of forms and surface treatments. Historical folk pots for me speak of the grand object that is created by the humble potter on his wheel every day. By looking at these objects, I see how everyday life is reflected in the drawings that are on the pots. I use color to lend to the handmade vessel an emotion and a personality that develops in the process of making it. Although I am moving away from making work to be used every day, I am still intrigued by the relationship between the pedestal and the dinner table. With these pieces I see the synchronous development of form and surface.


Each piece is thrown, usually in a series of 7. I then allow the clay to stiffen so that I can trim away excess clay from the throwing process. I then paint a layer of black slip onto the exterior of each pot. Slip is watered down clay that is used very similar to paint. I add colored ceramic stains to achieve any color desired, although they can’t be mixed as paint can be. The black slip is allowed to dry slightly. Before it dries completely, I paint the color on as desired while the clay is still wet. Some of the pieces have a sgraffito drawing on them after the slip is dry. The work is then fired to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit in an electric kiln. All the materials I use are mixed using my own personal clay, glaze and slip formulas. Each surface and glaze is carefully considered from the beginning glaze formula with multiple rounds of tests run to the final piece.

Shane Bryant Artist's Statement

I am a self-taught clay artist who works and teaches at the school I founded in West Greenville, The William Felton School of Crafts. I make a wide range of clay pieces which include tableware, hand made tile, and musical instruments. The influences for my current work are many. I use traditional forms such as vases, bowls, serving platters, and even musical instruments as a starting point for the exploration of carved line, color, and varied patterns. The inspiration for some of the patterns comes from things I have observed in nature, such as spider webs, flower petals, and even ripples in water. I also use modified iconography from eastern religious shrines and art to create my own personal expression within a very traditional art form.

I describe my work this way…I like to make things people can use. While all of my work is highly decorated, and any piece could stand alone on pure aesthetics, it is the inherent utility that I enjoy. I take great pride in creating something beautiful that I know is a part of someone’s every day life.