My earliest recollection of having anything to do with clay was when my mother’s friend, Nancy, took me to a ceramics studio…the kind where you made slipcast pieces in molds. I lived in Europe and was about seven-years-old and I made figurines. Much later, in the United States, when I was in high school, I bonded with clay in earnest. Mr. Carson was a dynamite teacher: talented, motivated, interested and involved. I mainly hand-built pieces, experimented with glazes, structural integrity, textures and applied decoration. I was also involved with painting, drawing, fabric arts, and writing.


After graduation, I took attended two private art schools, painting and drawing at one and throwing clay at the other. I became more involved with the former. Then, I began community college, taking art and English. My clay work was uninspired, though, and I became intensely involved with painting, drawing, and multi-media.

In my early twenties, I left the nest and worked for a living, taking classes in science and textiles on the side. I didn’t touch a piece of clay for about five or six years. Then, while attending university full-time, I was drawn to clay once again. This time, I was under the tutelage of the person who came to influence me the most in this medium, John Takehara. He became my ceramics master.

The school had a well-funded and well-equipped studio: much space, indoors and out, and everything in the way of equipment and materials. I threw and hand-built. Themes I explored were marine biology and astronomy. During my time in Mr. Takehara‘s studio, I also had the good fortune to take part in the department’s annual workshops. Each year, he brought in someone who was tops in the field and, over the years, I took part in workshops with Marilyn Levine, Peter Voulkos, and Ruth Duckworth, Paul Soldner and Rudy Autio. Being around stellar figures in the ceramics world, talking with them, seeing how they worked…it was incredible. At the same time, I became very involved with writing, journalistic and creative, and social action.


Later, I left for graduate school, I immigrated to Canada, and began teaching university…writing. Eventually, I found time to take part in an open studio and did throwing, for the most part. A workplace injury made it unable to continue. I was away from clay for a number of years and have never thrown again.  Along the way, with the hopes of my own studio, I acquired two kilns, which are currently stored. I have yet to learn enough about clay composition or glaze chemistry. I have my range of experience, have read numerous books, but am must move beyond generalist. I require more. While in the U.S., I had worked as a writer and graphic designer, but when I moved to Canada, my creativity took a back seat. I was no longer the doer; I was the teacher. And I was working with words and my mind, not my hands and my heart.

Several years ago, I ‘came back to clay.’ I’d missed it terribly. Taking a tile class at the local arts centre, I flung myself into the medium. A bit after that, I became a member of a group of ceramic artists who meet weekly at the same studio. I’ve continued to make tiles and am interested in the Arts and Crafts style. I make other things, too, and am exploring function, which had never been a goal before. I am happy. Each week, members of my ceramics family meet to work on our various projects. We work at home between times. We are involved with individual processes but a bigger process is taking place, too. We’ve become friends. We experience the energy of working together without artifice.

I decided I wanted to record my history with the medium, my thoughts about it, and create a venue for other artists who will be showcased in articles and interviews. The creative process is high on my agenda. Basically, it’s a site about all things ceramics. There is a resource area, too. I cover my projects, past and current and future ones. By working in clay and writing about it, I hope to gel my relationship with clay, to explore it more deeply. As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”

— Jan

10 Responses to About

  1. gary

    Wow can you write jan!…. your notes about your busy life are inspiring ! gary

  2. Carol Rhodes

    Hi Jan,

    This is so uncanny. The other day I was thinking about you, wondering what had become of you and wondering if our paths would ever cross again and tonight I went on LinkedIn, something I hardly ever do and there you were. That led me to your website. So great to see that you are making art. I live in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Berkeley. Yours –Carol Rhodes.

    • Jan

      Carol, I have thought and thought about you, too. I knew you had a studio in SLC after you left Boise with Glenn. I think Brad Martin, Glenn’s friend told me that. I’ve tried to look you up there. No wonder I could never find you! I haven’t been on LinkedIn for a long time and my site’s outdated, so I am very glad you were directed here. This is pretty much where I hang out these days…here and at the studio… So nice to hear from you and I’m glad we’re in touch again. So very glad! Say, I got to see some of Mr. Takehara’s work last work in Montana where it was on display for the Archie Bray Foundation anniversary shows. I’ll write you more…I hope I can track down your email through the blog… Jan

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  4. Claudia

    This is actually quite exciting to finally have found the maker of my most favorite piece of pottery in my bed room! I have been looking for a year, and just a couple of minutes ago it came to me that I could search by image; and there it was, a small article about a piece with a beautiful story behind it!
    Hello, my name is Claudia J….nice to meet you.

    • Jan

      Hi Claudia and thank you for writing. What you said is so sweet… What is it that you have? It is always nice to hear when someone treasures a ceramic piece this way. I am not sure what it is but I’m glad you like it and that you have written… — Jan

  5. Mary Humphrey

    Hello,…..I’m preparing a workshop for our clay guild in Michigan…while gathering info. on several artists–I thought hum…I’ll type my name in to the internet and see what “now” comes up…..and here’s this this lovely list of clay related info….on a site I’d never seen before.

  6. Mary Humphrey

    OOOPS !! I hit “enter too soon !…. So I wanted to say— the Humphrey interview — I hope will be inspiring….it seems to be severely cut apart from what I actually “said”.. ( all too common” ) I sincerely want ceramics to stay alive and well….. I am but one tiny portion…( not quite finished yet-by the way ) …hoping to inspire many to continue to create in our art form by my contagious enthusiasm for clay…. truly I love clay and am most happy when creating in clay !!!! Thanks, for listing the article.

    Mary Humphrey

    • Jan

      Hi, Mary, and thank you for writing and you’re so welcome. Ah, isn’t that often the case…what we see in print doesn’t meet our expectations. Maybe they can do a follow up story about you that will enable you to express everything you want to say or, even better, maybe they will post a guest article. Get in touch with them to ask… Papers and sites are often looking for more copy. It’s nice reading what you’ve said here and I can feel your energy and inspiration! Thanks again and good luck… Fall in Michigan must be beautiful! — Jan

  7. Carl Baird


    I am looking for a source of bisque ware of marine invertebrates, namely, nudibranchs, octopus, etc. The form of the nudibrach; is that from a mold could be sold as bisque ware, ready for glazing and firing?

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