Day 1 – Making Cups, Alleghany Meadows, Make, Use, Look, Think

Haystack’s lack of wifi was frustrating (for me!).  To be fair there is wifi in the library and the lack of cell coverage is hardly under their control – still it was frustrating to be on the E with one bar.  It surprised me how much I have come to rely on the internet for my artistic practice.  Those 1980 college days of sitting in the library at Philadlephia College of Art drinking in ceramic and pottery books are long gone!  In recent years I have enthusiastically embraced Instagram, (for which you need internet), when I am inspired and this workshop really inspired me.  Alleghany’s attention to detail and thoughtfulness continue to inspire me.

Allegheny started the workshop making cups.  He asked us to make a cup that is personal to ourselves, a cup to be used for a specific ritual or need.  He challenged us to think about our own rituals, for example, what do you like to drink in the morning?  Here some thoughts he shared with us while throwing cups designed expressly for use in his expresso machine “Sylvia”.

Working on the inside of a form is most important because with forms such as a cup, unlike a painting, you look into it. Balance and proportion thoughtfully executed suggest confidence.


We choose to make things that show our vision of the world and we share our idea of that beauty or tension with people around us.  The work is alive as people experience it.

Alleghany explained his thought process of why he works from the inside out.  As one drinks from a cup, rings of tea or coffee are left on the inside, the liquid leaves traces of horizon lines, just like water rippling along the edge of the shore when you throw a rock into it.  Alleghany as a maker thinks about the experience of drinking the opaque liquid, seeing those horizon lines and finally coming to the last dregs of liquid and having the experience of seeing a change in the form.  What do those lines mean to you as they become markers of time? 

Risk and creativity are tied together, one has to take a risk to explore creativity.


After a glorious lunch which included sandwiches, multiple varieties of salads, two homemade soups, and the aforementioned cookies, Alleghany continued with his thoughts on use and making.  He posed the question what does it mean to be a maker in our culture?  While in Karatsu, Japan, Alleghany studied with Takashi Nakazato, who believes that our hands develop memory through repetition of form, and from this repetition one achieves the rhythm that is used in functional work.  Patterns built up from layers of memory ensures the work is alive as people experience it.

Clay as a responsive pliable material becomes the instigator of plasticity in one’s hands.  Our hands learn from the clay’s plasticity and our touch and sensitivity to the material becomes a direct communicator to the brain, to the heart, and to those that use these pots.

How does one’s work instigate change?  What does it mean to make a breakfast set for two which includes a vase?  Perhaps the new owners of this set find themselves filling the vase with flowers and celebrating breakfast together in a new and meaningful way.  How does the work change when the object is to make serving bowls that fit together?  These are some of the questions and thoughts we began our own making thinking about.

And one final thought – cicatrix – this word became our mantra as we talked about it’s meaning and how it can apply to much of pottery.  We came back to it many a time.  The dictionary definitions for cicatrix are:  1. The scar of a wound.  2. A scar of the bark on a tree.  3. A mark on a stem left after a leaf or other part has become detached.  

Initially, we were using the noun cicatrix to convey the connection between handle and mug but it grew to spouts, pitcher handles, and knobs.  A cicatrix became those moments in time, those connections, that convey a decision, a choice, an artistic practice.



Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Make, Use, Look, Think, Alleghany Meadows

Back from two fabulous weeks at a workshop at Haystack on Deer Isle, Maine. It is a magical place. Founded in 1950 the school moved to it’s current location in 1961. The school was designed by renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and is cleverly built on the side of the hill preserving the natural landscape. The entrance called the “breezeway” houses two buildings, to the right is the gateway auditorium and to the left the store and library.  The only (I repeat the only!) wifi (for students) is in the library and the only place where phone calls are permitted is here in the breezeway.  It can be a very popular area.   A short walk on top of a large granite boulder walkway takes you to the heart of the campus and a view of the ocean which is accessed by a long staircase.

The school offers clay, glass, metals, paper, bookmaking, blacksmithing, weaving, fibers, woodworking and more.  Susan and I were there to take Alleghany Meadows workshop Make, Use, Look, Think.

There are various types of accommodations from dormitories to quads, doubles and a few  private single rooms with shower.  These buildings built into the hill are accessed by wooden walkways.  The ceramic and wood studio is on the right and one level down is the metals, paper and textile studios.  Glass and the Fab Lab are a short walk back up the hill.  And then there is the dining hall.  The bell rings at 8am, noon and 6pm and the food is simply abundant and delicious.  We all began to feel like a pavlovian experiment trained to hear the bell and become instantly hungry.  And then there are the cookies.  Large batches of cookies baked daily, we never had the same cookie twice.  After lunch the cookies were put into a large cookie jar and were accessible along with a constant supply of hot coffee all afternoon until they were all gone.

I didn’t take many photos of the food but this one of cookies with our excellent chef Tom is  from Alleghany!  All the food was served in hand made dishes.  Large bowls for salad, pitchers for serving water, platters and bowls for vegetables, small pitchers for dressing.  Breakfast and lunch were self serve while dinner was family style.  The food was excellent and it was impossible to go hungry!  Every night was a dessert to rival the previous nights!


2014 Year of New Beginnings.

Charlotte Lindley Martin Detail of porcelain flowers, glazed white with gold luster

Charlotte Lindley Martin
Detail of porcelain flowers, glazed white with gold luster

This year has been a busy one. It is my last year as President of the Philadelphia Skating Club and I am feeling pulled ever more into the studio but, all too often, club demands pull me out.

Nevertheless I managed to embark on a new body of work that started with the idea of applying to the Small Favors Show at the Clay Studio. The requirements were that the work fit into a 4 x 4 x 4 inch plexiglass box. I had been playing around with lacy skirts on my forms – dust ruffles was the latest name given by a visitor though I’m not sure I like that one! – that I have been piercing and slip trailing. I began by creating a small flower brick that soon became filled with flowers. It was a stone’s throw to do the same thing with little vases that I had made.  It seemed that I had transformed my painted floral designs and made them three dimensional.  This is something that I have tried before, having made tureens with flowers and grapes laying across the lids and handles. But these were something entirely different while using the same idea.  In the end, their finished sizes were 4.25 inches, a scant quarter of inch larger than the plexiglass box so they didn’t fit!  Oh well there is always next year!

Also this year I applied to Tabletop 2014 at The Art League in Alexandria VA and my compote with 4 dishes was accepted.  Success.

Next came The Joy of Drinking National Juried Competition, Phoenix Fired Art, Joplin, MO.  Pink Mug was accepted and sold the opening night.  I received a card from the Heather the manager who said they could have sold my mug again and again.  Dare I think I am on a roll?

Then I sent two sets of dinnerware and Dancing Vase to Dining In: An Artful Experience VII, 18 Hands Gallery, Houston TX

Blue Yunomi was accepted to The Clay Cup: Vessel, Icon, Canvas at the George Caleb Bingham Gallery, University of Missouri, juried by Linda Arbuckle.

Peach Yunomi was accepted into the Biennial Cup Show at Morean Center for Clay, St. Petersburg, FL, juried by Matt Schiemann

And last but by no means least, Mark Hewitt juried a show called Containment: Lidded Forms that will be at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, February 26 – April 9, 2015.  I had yet to get my Follies into a show but persevered with this new work and made three covered jars, reticulated, slip trailed, lids flowing over with flowers and two were accepted.  (Oval Boudoir Box not accepted!)

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

All photos by John Carlano