Marie Wright, Potter

Marie Wright, potter in Pittsboro, North Carolina, creates wheel thrown porcelain vases, bowls and tableware with her own crystalline glazes.

Marie Wright

My favorite part of this job is working on the wheel. It is like a mediation for me, and almost everything that I make begins on the wheel.

Once a pot has dried out a little, I often like to do some altering. I usually sketch a basic shape straight onto the form – and then push, pull, paddle and scrape to my heart’s delight. These are my favorite pots: the non-round ones. This can transform a nice and well balanced pot into something really unique and special.

Once the pot is fully formed, trimmed, and the shape is perfected, the base of each piece is carefully measured and fitted onto its own pedestal that will catch runoff glaze during the firing process (these glazes are very runny).

I make all of my own glazes – it’s the only way to go if you want to get great colors and crystal shapes in your crystalline glazes. I try to include a few experiments in every single fire – either trying to find something new, or attempting to improve on the glazes that I have. My experiments almost always yield something different, but sometimes I can find something really outstanding!

The firing itself is extremely variable. There are several heating steps required to grow crystals, and I fire extremely hot – my top temperature is usually around 2350°F depending on what I am firing. Just a few degrees change or a few minutes extra in any step of this process can (and does) have dramatic effects on how the pieces turn out.

After all is said and done, when I pull my pots out of the kiln, there is one last challenge to finishing these pieces. I need to physically break the pot off of the pedestal that it was fired on, and then grind the foot to a nice smooth finish. This step requires a bit if finesse and sometimes a blowtorch, chisel, and hammer! But, if I do a great job putting the pedestal on before I fire, it will usually come off pretty easily – I love it when that happens!