Fine Field Pottery

Functional Artistic Pottery

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The Potter’s House

“Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words…”

A dear friend of mine launched a pottery business a couple of years ago. I was planning my vacation and had some extra time and would be near his home, so I asked if he would be available for a visit and interested in giving me a lesson on throwing clay. He eagerly agreed and when the day of our lesson arrived, we walked into his studio. There were two pottery wheels, one electric and the other a manual “kick-wheel.” On shelves were all sorts of bowls, plates, vases, mugs, and other items, all in various stages of completion.

Before we could begin, we needed some clay. He reached for a block of something in plastic wrap, pulled the wrapper back and in the blink of an eye, he had cut off a huge chunk of clay with a wire. He then divided that chunk of clay into four smaller chunks. Then he took one and offered me a second one. He then proceeded to show me how to “knead” the clay so that we could get the air bubbles out. He likened it to kneading bread (which I’ve never done, but I’ve worked pie crust). I took to the clay like I would pie crust. Lesson #1: Clay requires a gentler touch than my pie crust.

After working with the clay for a bit, my friend took my hunk of clay and put it in the recovery barrel to be used for a new project on another day. He then placed in my hands the clay he had been working in preparation for the wheel. I settled in at the wheel and slapped the clay down as he instructed. I pushed the pedal down a little bit and the wheel started to turn. I put my hands in the water bucket and set about the task of getting the hunk of clay into the center of the wheel. This required considerably more effort than I could have ever imagined. I’ve seen potters work over the years and they make the craft appear to be so effortless. Not so. My friend sat close, his soothing voice reminding me to steady with my right hand and press with my left to shift the clay to the center of the wheel. I pressed with all that I was worth to no avail. My friend finally realized that I needed a little more, “Would you like to see me do one?” “Yes, please. That might help.”

We swapped places and in less than 10 minutes, my friend had created a beautiful bowl. I sighed as I settled back in at the wheel. My friend was a gifted artist and I was completely inept. As if reading my thoughts, he said, “You didn’t really think that you were going to sit down and throw a perfect piece the first time you did it, did you?”

Yes. Yes, I did. My feathers ruffled, because he caught me in my own truth and expectation, I stuttered my reply, “N-n-noooo. I didn’t think it’d be perfect the first time out the gate….I just didn’t realize how difficult it would be to just get the clay to the point where I could actually begin to create a bowl or a plate or something.”

He placed another glob of clay in my hands and I slapped it down on the wheel, pushed the pedal, wet my hands and started again. I stared hard at that clay, trying not to screw it up again. My friend’s soothing voice said, “Throwing is about breathing. Are you breathing? Everything you do at the wheel is spiritual and rooted in prayer and presence.” With those words, I smiled, took a deep cleansing breath and released it and set to the task of “feeling” the clay, not just working it. Lesson #2: You cannot think something into being, you have to feel it, mold it, get your whole body into the project, AND, you must breathe!!

After that moment, something clicked and I was able to stop using my head to think it done. I stopped worrying about doing it the “right” way, and started feeling my way into the clay, adapting my friend’s technique and instruction into a way that would work for me. My spirit soared and it felt good to hear encouraging words from my friend. Somehow we wound up with a bowl. Not a spectacular bowl, but a bowl. It will work for serving veggie dip or M&Ms. Lesson #3: Life is NOT about being perfect every moment; life is about the learning along the way.

But the bowl isn’t done yet. The clay needs to finish drying. Then it has to be fired in the kiln. Then it will need some glaze and another trip to the kiln. My friend will take care of those finishing touches and then send it to me in a few weeks. Lesson #4: We can’t do it all by ourselves; we all need a little help and mentoring along the way.

Lesson #5: Sometimes we can only do as much as we can do and then leave the rest of it in other hands.

Not long after finishing in the studio, I felt soreness all over my body. My legs were especially sore from sitting at the wheel, one leg braced on a brick, the other braced on 2x4s. My upper body at my shoulders and arms was sore from moving the clay on the wheel. But I had created a unique piece of pottery. Lesson #6: Life can leave us tired and sore, exhilarated and bewildered, passionate and disgusted.

I wonder if that was the kind of experience God was having with regard to Israel when he sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house (see Jeremiah 18). “The vessel [the potter] was making clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as the potter has done? Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand…” (Jeremiah 18:4-6).

Lesson #7: If we are clay in the Potter’s hand, then even when our lives go haywire, God can re-work things into something new “as seems good” to God. All is not lost, keep faith and stop thinking about it all, but feel life happening anew.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Ruth

This article was shared in the June 3, 2015 print of the Lamb County Leader-News.

With the birds

What a busy spring it was and now summer. The studio has been turning out neat pieces of pottery and the kiln has been soooo busy firing that it fired itself out. However, there is good news. A new kiln was ordered June 11 and it will be here any day now!!! It was specially made (because they do not keep them on the shelves) for me. Today, it is somewhere in Nevada and imagine it will be in the studio next week.
Now, this has caused some time for me to slow down because the firing schedule is off but in reality I have not. Beginning in May I lost my sweet Birdie, my Great Dane of the past four years. She was a rescued from CISAR (Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue) in Colfax Il. What joy and love she offered during the time she was with me. I needed her more than she needed me, especially during some of those days a few years ago. At the end of May I could not stand not having a Great Dane to nudge me around and give me endless love. That is when Albird showed up. A sweet 11 week old puppy at the time only 16 inches long and 15 tall.

June was busy chasing after him. Loving him. Watching him grow, grow grow. Today he is 25 inches long and 24 tall and I think last night he grew more because he looked over me in bed this morning!!!

So, I think it was a good thing that the kiln petered out on me. I have had a lot of time to love Albird.

More when that kiln arrives!!!

Time in a cup

Throwing clay, or hand building with clay, is really something that deserves a little more respect than what is generally given it. The clay that is being worked is as ancient as one can imagine. Clay was once strong mighty boulders, crushed and ground down by the mighty hands of time in the form of ice or water, deposited in streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, to sit for millennia. It has been waiting to be dug up and fashioned by human hands. As the clay is taken, conditioned and formed it becomes something that took thousands of years to come to fruition. Are you amazed yet?

It is worth considering that when you sip out of a ceramic mug, or bake in your favorite casserole, you are touching time itself.

Now, of course this is only one stop in the incarnation of the clay particles that have been formed. Unfortunately, the piece of art in your hands will have a bad day. Yes, it will be dropped and crash to the ground. It will be appropriate to cry as you grievously miss your favorite piece of ceramic art. However, do not cry for its life is not over. It is just beginning to start the journey all over again of being in solid form, to encountering ice and water, to wearing down and washing away into a stream, river, lake, pond and swamp to sit for millennia and wait to be dug up again.

Hard to imagine that ceramic art is just brief moment in time for each particle of clay stuck together. Even the most ancient pieces of pottery that humanity has created are being broken down slowly and eventually return to the earth. But for this moment, enjoy, appreciate, use and give thanks for the presence of someone’s artwork in your life.

The Season of Lemon Meringue

I always think of Spring as Lemon Meringue Pie Season. Probably for two reasons: Easter with eggs all over the place and second because it is my mother’s favorite pie and her birthday is in April. So to get the season moving I thought I would make egg separators to get ready to make pie.

When I first thought about making these I thought that there was going to be potential to mess them up and not get the separator to work right. The slit on the side of pitcher has to be just the right size or the yolk will plop right out with the white and that would not make an ideal meringue. I was not sure how to determine what size it would need to be but I went ahead and gave it a try. Low and behold, go tell it on the mountain, the egg separator works great. Yesterday when they popped out of the kiln I went right to the kitchen and gave it a try. Bingo! I was so happy.

Not only does it work well at separating eggs it also is perfect for melting butter. I have not found out how much yet, that is a chore for later this afternoon. Instead of pouring out of the slit you pour it from the spout on the opposite side.

I am going to be passing out a recipe card on how to make Lemon Meringue Pie with the egg separator and it will also be posted on the recipe page. If you are interested in purchasing one they cost $11 and will be available tomorrow at the Woodland PTO /Craft fair from 9-2. Hope to see you at the show

Egg Separator: Multiple colors, microwave, dishwasher safe. $11

Egg Separator: Multiple colors, microwave, dishwasher safe. $11



Learning Something New

Sometimes it takes a while to learn something other times it can happen in a flash…I am obviously still working on how to create a website and blog but I am getting there. Take time to read my blog posts. Consider being a follower and don’t forget to like Fine Field Pottery on Facebook!

Spring, where are you?

We have been so spoiled the last few years with yearly sping warmth and this year we are making up for it.
The Fine Field Pottery Studio is not the warmest place on earth and as I sat at the wheel this morning I could feel my energy drain away as the cold replaced what warmth there was in the room. My hands were chilled each time I dunked them in the water. Then the clay even made the water cooler as it absorbed any warmth there was in the water. I kept throwing, encouraging myself onward with the idea that someday soon the cold would be replaced with a humid summer.
One thing I did notice while I was throwing was that complaining about the cold and the misery was not going to do any good. Whining, or as one friend put it, venting, does not really fix the situation. The only thing left for me to do was to keep throwing, and I did.
I finished one project I am venturing in with a friend and threw two beautiful (at least I hope they will be) mixing/serving bowls. That came to about 12 lbs. of clay…well below the average amount I throw, but I decided I would shift gears and started to glaze instead.
Sitting and glazing is a wonderful way to allow the mind to roam while being productive. I will say more on that another time. By the time I was finished filling the kiln, time had passed and even though I did not warm up I at least was thankful for the time, the energy and the joy that comes with this work. And ultimately that is why I do what I do, and hope you do the same, because you enjoy it and in that you find what Spring promises.

Break Time

I have been throwing all morning and have a good run: pie plates, cups, wine chillers are covering every bit of free space I have in my studio. Now, it is time to take a moment and decide what is next. And what is a better way to decide what to do by making my lunch.
After getting my clay yesterday I stopped at Trader Joe’s and had to try a few new items found which is now my lunch.
Put your taste buds on alert for here is what I put together. I grilled a tortilla on the on the burner; just threw it on the open flames and cooked it. Then I shredded fresh Asiago cheese and a carrot. And now for the Trader Joe’s addition, fresh horseradish humus. Top that with a fresh piece of butter crisp lettuce and WOW yum!!!! The humus is not too hot and it give the right zip to my wrap.
I am so glad I stopped to make lunch.
Back to throwing….what will I make next.

ps: desert is Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurt Vanilla Bean!

Power Back On

We were without power for most of the morning due to winter storm Vulcan. It did pack a quick punch but now that it is out of here and the power restored I thought I should get back to work. Today, I finished trimming 12 of my newest products to be unveiled at the Woodland show at the end of the month. Hint: It will help make lemon meringue pie a lot easier! And no it is not a pie plate. It is always fun to come up with new items and see how they will work. Last night I tried one of my dishes and made Garlic Parmesan Bread Bites. So easy. So good. And so gone. I took the 8 inch deep dish server, sprayed it with EVOO, cut Grand’s biscuits into quarters, sprinkled with garlic and parmesan, poured a table spoon of melted butter and viola hot, steamy, cheesy bread bites.

Tomorrow, I am off to Great Lakes Clay in Elgin Illinois to pick up 3/4 ton of clay, glaze and other materials. Those other materials will be items purchased at Trader Joe’s! Yahoo Mountain Dew a trip to Trader Joe’s. I am going to buy a package of their fat free brownie mix and try it out in the deep dish server and see how that works.

deep dish service

A New Product!!!

On Saturday we debuted the newest product for Fine Field Pottery: Soap Dispensers. Each one is a unique and special piece. Shapes vary as well as color. We have 9 currently in stock and hope to have more for our next show in Elmhurst on March 16th.  See Products Page 2 for more information.

Soap/Lotion Dispenser: Colorful and unique $18

Welcome to the new Fine Field Pottery Site

Take time to browse around the new site. If you have any questions or would like to place an order contact us at

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