- Ceramic Arts Daily - http://ceramicartsdaily.org -

Shadow May, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Shadow May's square stacked jar, 15 in. (38 cm) in height, porcelain, 
fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln.

Shadow May's square stacked jar, 15 in. (38 cm) in height, porcelain, fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln.

I chose to make this form because of its uniqueness first and, in a utilitarian sense, it gives the appearance of one piece while utilizing two containers. I really just love making containers that consolidate or stack in any form or medium. Making this piece let me contribute to the idea of consolidated containers. I want it to fit together, be useful for food or just appreciating. I want people to want to pick my pots up and use them.

If I make a piece for function, then it needs to work. Although, I think that if your main focus is function then a lot of times you leave little to no room for creativity, which is my first priority in making a piece.

Patience is my main challenge. These pieces are not your straight forward piece of pottery you can finish in half an hour or so. You really have to picture the finished piece and then work your way through it until it’s finished. Also, since I fire each section of each piece separately, the fitting back together is always a concern; otherwise the piece doesn’t work and I won’t like it enough for the public to see.

It is not really important to me that the user be aware of an intended function for this piece. I make the piece out of a sense of fun and creativity. Function falls about third down on my list, even though my pots are completely functional. I’m more interested in the artistic expression of a particular piece and the idea behind it. I imagine that, if this piece is used, whether putting your car keys in it after a long day or your coffee and sugar for the morning, it would be considered a piece that plays a small but very important role or ritual in your life.
Looking and appreciating are as important as function. Sometimes people need to just stop and look at something to make them feel better, take them back to a particular time in their lives—or just smile.


This article was excerpted from Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers.

I do about 20-25 juried fine art shows a year and that has gotten my pots out there extremely fast. I do have a website, a Facebook fan page under Shadow Pottery, a Twitter account, and a Myspace page. I also have an Etsy and blog account, but rarely have a chance to get to them.

My pots are always changing. Doing a lot of shows lets my pots evolve quickly. From the beginning, I’ve tried to sell the idea that if you like my pots then you’ll trust that whatever I make you’ll like. I really don’t want to be making the same stuff day in and day out. My body of work will always look like I made it, but it will change in a matter of moments because I work so much in the clay and love stepping out and playing that risk. That’s how good pots are made!