The Master Potter’s Student — Caprice Scott and Her Ceramic Art

Wildflower themed pottery platters by Caprice Scott.
Wildflower themed pottery platters by Caprice Scott.

There’s no fixing an exploded piece of pottery.

This is not, however, sufficient reason for the average person to give wide berth to ceramic bowls, cups, saucers, and platters. It’s not on the shelf that a piece of pottery rends itself asunder but rather, in the kiln with a temperature ranging from 1112 degrees Farenheit to 2300-plus.

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott
Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

“We’re not talking about just hot enough to burn dinner in the oven here,” College Place potter Caprice Scott, who specializes in hand-built and sculpted ceramic-ware, says.

“Working with clay is a tricky business,” she adds. “I don’t think people realize how fickle and capricious clay and glazes can be.” If the environmental humidity is low, the clay dries too fast and cracks before it even makes it to the kiln; if it’s winter in the Pacific Northwest and the humidity is high, it can take forever for the clay to dry — frequently when the potter is working on a commissioned order with a timeline. Glazes add complications to the creation process.

And that eruption issue?

“If there happens to be an air bubble somewhere in the clay, you might find your piece has exploded in the bisque kiln.”

With all the things that can go wrong, it’s astonishing that anything survives, but that it does — as well as thrive in beauty, functionality, and form — is testament to the skill of the potter. Scott, whose experience in the art arena ranges from teaching in private and charter schools to painting murals in million-dollar Colorado spec homes, turned her central focus to pottery upon her family’s moving to the Pacific Northwest six years ago.

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott
Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Scott’s drive to learn and experiment, in conjunction with an attention to detail, impel her to create unusual pieces and collections — such as the sugar/creamer set shaped like European village houses which garnered an award at an art exhibition, or the commissioned clay box fashioned into a Dr. Who fez hat, tassel and all.

“I take delight in coming up with something no one else has done before and probably won’t ever do again,” Scott explains.

“I usually work within a theme or do a bunch of one thing for a little while. I find something new and get really passionate about it and I make as many pieces as I can for a few months, and then I move on to something new.”

One aspect that is consistent in all of Scott’s pieces is the signature at the bottom: her last name, and then the biblical verse, Isaiah 64:8, which, when one looks it up, says,

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott
Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Scott stumbled upon the verse in a period of frustration, when everything that could go wrong with creating pottery (including explosions), did, and she decided to dedicate each piece to Him, as a work of His hands as well as hers.

“So when the pieces were blowing up or coming out of the kiln cracked, I was like, ‘God, Your pottery is breaking. And it’s Yours, so I guess it’s okay. If You’re okay with it, then I am, too.”

Completing a part of Scott’s journey, the verse confirmed that her work gave meaning to others as well as to herself, and she felt as if God were saying, “You, Caprice, can call me ‘My Father, the Potter.’

“I really feel this verse sums up all that I am and all that my pottery represents. Without the Master Potter, I and my work wouldn’t be.”

Scott’s work is unique, skillful, eclectic, passionate, and illuminated by imagery that celebrates the outdoor world: flowers, leaves, Native American art, and wildlife, reflecting an appreciation for nature that Scott acquired through living in Colorado, and reaffirms in the Pacific Northwest.

“I need to be surrounded by beauty. If I can’t be out in nature, I try to bring beauty inside.”

Beauty ignites.

Wenaha GalleryScott’s work is on display at Wenaha Gallery. During the Christmas season, Scott is holding a Christmas Ornament Workshop at the gallery, gently leading students (who don’t have to have any experience in pottery, because Scott does) into making a customized pottery ornament for their tree. The two-part workshop takes place Sunday, November 15 and Sunday, December 6. Cost is $55 for both workshops, with all supplies, and firing of the ornaments, included. Read more about the workshop at our article, Christmas Ornament Workshop.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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Christmas Ornament Workshop

Make your own personalized Christmas ornaments at a fun workshop taught by Wenaha Gallery artist Caprice Scott
Make your own personalized Christmas ornaments at a fun workshop taught by Wenaha Gallery artist Caprice Scott

Christmas is coming, and this is the perfect time to create your own personalized pottery ornament for your tree!

Caprice Scott, porcelain artist extraordinaire, joins Wenaha Gallery in presenting a hands-on, two-part workshop for one extremely reasonable price.

Here are the details:

All materials needed to create your ornament are included within the workshop price
All materials needed to create your ornament are included within the workshop price

Workshop Dates:

Part One: Sunday, November 15 from 1 – 4 p.m.

Part Two: Sunday, December 6 from 1  – 4 p.m.

Cost: $55 for both sessions

Bring a child or grandchild with you for $15 extra

All materials are included within the workshop price. Create as many ornaments as you can out of the clay you are given.

In Part 1, you will learn about pottery and working with clay. The artist will give demonstrations, hands-on instruction, and individual attention as you roll out clay, add texture, determine shape, smooth edges, and prepare your creation(s) for stain or glaze.

In Part 2, you will learn about stain and glazing with demonstration, hands-on instruction, and individual attention as you select the glaze or stain of your choice and add it to your ornament(s). Caprice will talk about the firing process in the kiln, and what happens next.

Caprice will then take the ornaments home to fire in the kiln, and arrangements will be made to pick them up at Wenaha gallery.

Class size is limited to 12, so sign up today — First come, first served!

Call to reserve your spot at 509.382.2124

or

Email Wenaha Gallery at art@Wenaha.com

or

Visit us in person at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA

 

Beautiful Lizards — The Pottery of Roberta Zimmerman at Sun Lizard Studios

Hand thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
The shape, form, glazing, and decoration of Roberta Zimmerman’s hand thrown pottery pieces is inspired by Native American design

Even the most urban-based child manages to find enough dirt and water to create mud pies at least once in their lives, but for Dayton potter Roberta Zimmerman, three out of four of the sacred elements — Earth, Air, and Water — were an integral part  of every childhood summer. (Fire, she added when she was an adult.)

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

“I was born in Arizona, the first-born daughter of a real cowboy and a homemaker,” Zimmerman says. “We lived all over Arizona on cattle ranches and movie sets, as my father worked on all of John Ford’s western movies shot in Arizona.”

While Zimmerman’s father attended to the stuff of legends, Zimmerman focused on that legendary childhood stuff — mud pies, baked under the scorching Arizona sun. When it got too hot for inedible culinary production, Zimmerman did what any sensible child would do and ran around barefoot.

“We found Indian arrowheads just laying all over the land. Another favorite pastime was chasing lizards — it was a challenge to be fast enough to catch them!”

Such is the stuff of memories better than legends, and in Zimmerman’s life, those memories have shaped the art that she does today: hand-thrown, hand-painted pottery designed to endure (because of that Fire she added, pushing the temperature in her studio kiln to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as be used for the cooking and serving of food (definitely not recommended with mud pies).

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

The lizards she chased and the arrowheads she admired factor strong in the decorative inspiration she adds to her finished work, expressing her reverence for and respect of Native American art and artists.

“The works I create reflect my love of the West and the ancient people who came before us,” Zimmerman explains. “Each and every piece is thrown on the pottery wheel, so there are no identical pieces — no molds.

“The paintings are free-hand paintings, no stencils. All the glazes are lead free to be safe for dinnerware.

“It is my deep wish that folks will enjoy using these pieces I create.”

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

In between childhood mud pies and adult work with clay, Zimmerman’s residence in the art arena took a break as she ceded to the demands of the work world, serving 11 years as a police dispatcher and 11 years as a correctional officer at Washington State Penitentiary (she and her husband, Ralph, who also worked as a correctional officer, like to tell friends that they met in prison).

When severe back surgery in 1999 resulted in an earlier retirement than Zimmerman had initially envisioned, Ralph’s practical, yet encouraging, nature propelled her forward when he asked,

“What do you want to do?”

Pottery. The answer was out before the question was finished.

“I just always wanted to do that ever since I was a little girl,” Zimmerman says. “So I started taking classes at community college, Ralph bought me a wheel and a kiln, and I was off and running.

“I bought every book I could get my hands on and highlighted and highlighted, and just tried and tried.”

Through the years, in addition to working with white stoneware, Zimmerman has explored Raku, pit-fired, black smoked, and horse hair pottery, and she has sold her work through art fairs, regional shows, gift shops, co-ops, and at Sun Lizard Studios, the brand name for her work which she creates from her Wolf Fork home.

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman
Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

An inveterate learner, she has added the Internet to her repertoire of information resources, communicating online with artist colleagues in Germany, Israel, and throughout the world. Ralph, ever the encourager, owes gratitude to the opportunities technology offers, remembering the five-hour driving detour they took once in Nevada so Zimmerman could visit a potter’s studio she had heard about.

“It turned out to be a fascinating place,” she remembers.

But just as fascinating is Sun Lizard Studios, named when Zimmerman’s daughter playfully observed, “Well, Mom, you are just an old sun lizard!” In this mountain retreat, where a bear swimming in the pond or turkeys strolling through the yard replace lizards darting underfoot, the child who spent her summers slapping mud seamlessly picks up where those joyous days of abandon left off.

“Making pottery has been the fulfillment of a dream for me.”

Wenaha GalleryRoberta Zimmerman is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, July 13 through Saturday, August 8.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.