All Works: All of my objects, in an uncatagorized show.
Note: This show goes up to August 31, 2014. Later works appear in the categorized albums linked to below.
Vases: My vases, in a catagorized show.
Mugs and Cups: My mugs and cups, in a catagorized show.
Plates and Bowls: My plates and bowls, in a catagorized show.
Faerie Castles: Faerie Castles.
Various Other Objects: Various other objects.
A lovely student wrote the following about my teaching:Playing in the Dirt
by Alanna Hilbink
I moved to Asheville with a vague notion of what pottery was (cooked dirt) and how to do it (smoosh uncooked dirt around, then cook), but my experience was limited to the creation of one really ugly elf in grade school and going to one of those studios where you drink wine and paint polka dots on factory-made mugs (but mostly drink wine). My skills were those of a two-year-old with Play-Doh, and a skill level that low can be crippling when it comes to trying something new. The uniqueness and creativity of the Asheville-area population are part of what makes this city so great, but they are the same things that make the average office-dweller or mountain-retiree feel intimidated, outclassed and unwelcome in the art scene. Even the term �art scene� makes most of us uncomfortable. How are we supposed to start at zero when everyone else already has a �scene� and is infused with so much skill and raw talent? How are we supposed to find the courage to walk into a studio (another word with associated discomfort for the average stick-figure-draw-er) and admit to no knowledge and poor-to-middling creativity at best?
However it's impossible to live in these mountains without getting a whiff of second-hand inspiration and wanting to try. So I signed up for a pottery class. (Okay, let's not give me too much go-get-'em credit, I'd lived in the area for three months before I actually called instead of just rooting around on websites and sighing with thoughts of, �That could be fun, right?�)
I was nervous going in�I mean, this was something new. I thought the teacher would scoff at my lack of knowledge of the Islamic influences on first-century porcelain firing techniques in the Tang Dynasty (That's actually a thing. I Googled it.). I thought the other students would sense my average-ness and shun me for my inability to draw, much less make, a symmetrical vase.
Instead I felt welcome as soon as I walked into the Black Mountain Center for the Arts clay studio, a small-scale, comfortable building hidden behind the center (and behind a coffee shop. Lattes pair perfectly with pottery, it turns out.). I chose Mathilda's class based on time and schedule, but it turned out to be the perfect match for more reasons than that. Mathilda's skill level is intimidating, but her attitude and approachability are anything but (although she does know and practice Kung Fu). Just like her art, she is fun, funky and naturistic. She laughs easily, believes in the beauty of flawed pieces (�If you wanted a perfect mug, you could just go to Target.�) and has a kind and encouraging teaching style.
Classes come with unlimited access to open studio hours, hours filled with equally warm and welcoming faces. Everyone wants to know your name, and the skilled potters and teachers (including Mathilda!) are quick and eager to answer questions even when they are there on their own time. There's a spectacular mix of talent ranging from artists pumping out professional pieces to, well, me�people who show up, make a mess, scrap half of what they try, and yet still end up with an armful of surprisingly functional and aesthetically-pleasing pieces (that also function as great gifts, for the handmade and/or low-budgeted gift givers out there). Mathilda, the clay staff and the fellow students make sure you feel, if not confident in your ability to �art,� confident in your ability to make, try and have a good time�all while playing in the dirt.
All images copyright by Mathilda Tanner 2014