I studied pottery at Franklin Pierce College (New Hampshire) in 1977 and then at Marlboro College (Vermont) from 1978 to 1980. After settling in Brattleboro, I co-founded Brattleboro Clayworks in 1983. In 1984 I became a mother, and that became my primary job. But pottery was a necessary passion, and my time in the studio increased along with my son’s independence until gradually my hobby became my livelihood. In 2002 I took on full-time administrative work, and these days I make pottery “on the side” and sell a couple times a year.
I am a potter by heart’s desire, but a philosopher by nature. So I bring a fascination with form and function to my pottery design. I can get totally engrossed in just looking at a good pot, a graceful curve. I love the way clay is acutely passive, taking impressions with an intensity that amounts to spirited intelligence.
I work mostly with high-fired stoneware thrown on the wheel. Most of my work is functional, ranging from simple bowls, mugs and plates in strong, earthy colors, to carved or decorated platters and tea sets. I begin with function, I design from function. My aim is to bring forth function in the most direct way, using the elemental grace of the clay as the vehicle for the beauty of the piece. When design becomes a distraction from the function rather than an enhancement, I lose interest or feel overstimulated. I also strive to keep my prices within reach because I have a personal mission to make my pottery available to average-incomed people like myself. Some of my work is more complex, embellished with rocky, wood grained, or watery-looking carving, seashell impressions, or waving fern imprints. And occasionally a piece designed from inspiration rather than function passes through my hands.
I have taught clay workshops to children in several schools over the years. I belong to the school of thought that “it’s the process that counts.” Not that the product isn’t important, but creating is very personal, and we both affirm and discover ourselves (and each other) through honoring the things we create in genuine process. My work expresses my honoring of the clay material and its capacity for bringing the spiritual to everyday experiences. Some customers have told me that drinking tea out of one of my mugs makes the tea taste better somehow. That’s just what I’m trying to do! Functional art brings us spiritual experience daily, in small doses – with coffee.
Thank you for visiting Teta Hilsdon Stoneware Pottery!