Learning to use the potters wheel in January 1978 while living in Springfield, Virginia was a major turning point in my life.
With a young family, life had to be balanced as we moved frequently. I was an Army officer’s wife, worked full-time for two medical doctors and had young children plus a dog and two cats. We moved to Kansas for a short stint at a military school then moved again to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. While we were in Kansas I took glaze formulating classes from a local potter.
Once settled in post quarters at Fort Campbell I found the post craft shop and was thrilled to find ten potters wheels, three electric kilns and a lovely, lovely gas kiln. The crafts shop manager and assistant manager both were happy to welcome me as a pottery assistant. They gave me a key, taught me to load and fire the electric kilns, how to mix large batches of glazes (Albany Slip was plentiful!) and how to fire the large gas kiln. Within weeks I had women in the Officers’ Wives Club (OWC) asking for pottery classes for themselves and their children. I’d attend OWC coffees, luncheons and teas plus I volunteered at my children’s schools and all I could talk about was pottery and how exciting it was (is) to make pots.
On December 13, 1979 I taught my first pottery class to a group of eight children. The children were in 4th – 6th grade and two of the eight children were my son and daughter. We enjoyed getting the clay going on our wheels, centering and opening small mounds of stoneware. We made bowls, mugs and small plates which we trimmed, fired, glazed and then I fired them in the gas kiln.
The classes started with one five week session on Thursday afternoons. Within two months I had two classes on Mondays, one on Tuesdays, one on Wednesdays and one on Thursdays. The craft shop charged $7.00 per student per class which included all supplies and firing fees.
These were heady days filled with projects, clay, firings and all six schools on post had me come as an “Artist In Residence”.