NC Mountains Pre-Conference Artist
After 20 years, Shawn Ireland still make pots with food, flowers and candles in mind. He choose to make these pots with a foundation in folk tradition, this involves using a variety of hand processed local clays and glaze materials; and single firing in a wood burning kiln while using a kick wheel. For him, these ingredients promote surprises and keep his craft connected to the natural world.
His pots continue to change over time under the influence of pottery making traditions adopted from my teachers Will Ruggles and Douglass Rankin. Several trips to Italy inspired a figurative direction in the form of candlesticks, vases and bowls which he calls Animalware.
The clay, Ireland mixes by hand, is a blend of ingredients from North Carolina and Georgia. Thirty percent of the body is local red clay. The nontoxic glazes, which melt at 2300 degrees, are composed primarily of local feldspar, silica, red clay, kaolin and ash from my woodstove.
He fires in a two chambered, 130 cu ft kiln fueled with poplar, oak and maple strips which are salvaged from burn piles at a nearby sawmill. The pots are raw glazed and single fired for 18-20 hours. The combination of wood flame and ash can produce colors and surfaces reminiscent of objects found in nature. Like these objects, wood fired pots can look similar to each other but never identical. This unpredictability and variation makes every kiln load a new start.