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Cris Conklin

Artist Details

Cris Conklin

Member Since 1995

I knew I wanted to be an artist from a very young age.  I tried many different mediums before I discovered clay, but none were quite the right fit.  When I took a ceramics course during my senior year in college, I knew this was it!  I have been making pots ever since, experimenting with different clays and styles over the years.  I am a full time potter, using a variety of clays and firing methods to make functional pottery, tiles, and sculpture.

I enjoy working with three dimensional form and also with two dimensional design.  Pottery allows me to explore both simultaneously.  It is an interesting challenge for me to fit flat patterns onto the volumes and curves of my pots.

I throw the majority of my pieces on a wheel.  This allows me to make simple, elegant forms that are well suited for extensive surface decoration.  Shaping the soft clay as it spins on the wheel is very satisfying and even meditative.  I tried many different methods of decorating my pots before settling on the sgraffito technique of carving. The term sgraffito comes from the Italian work for 'scratched' and it involves carving a design through colored clay slip that has been brushed onto the pot.  I love carving my designs because it allows me to add depth and texture to the pots' surface while creating sharply defined images.  

Most of my current work is fired in a salt kiln.  In this exciting method of atmospheric firing, salt is added to the kiln at about 2400 degrees F.  The salt moves through the kiln with the flames and the sodium reacts with silica in the clay body to create a clear glaze.  I am drawn to the soft, earthy, and often unpredictable surfaces achieved with atmospheric firing. There is something very liberating about painstakingly decorating a pot and then giving it to the kiln to do what it may.