005 Inspiration – MudTalk Podcast

MudTalk Podcast
MudTalk Podcast - Pottery, Ceramics, Business
005 Inspiration - MudTalk Podcast

What Inspires Your Work?What inspires YOUR work?


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Artists Mentioned: Justin Rothshank, Dick Lehman, Mark Goertzen, Troy Bungart, Todd Pletcher, Rebecca Graves, Jennifer Beachy, Eric Strader, Fred Driver, Zach Tate.


Thanks for listening! This is episode 5 where we will be talking about inspiration. What inspires YOUR work? Obviously, you can draw inspiration from many different kinds of things. And again, this prompt can be interpreted in different ways. What inspires the objects you make or what inspires you to get started working or what inspires your processes, or whatever else. When I was reading through the comments for this MudTalk Monday, I noticed some patterns and tried to group some of the comments together. So we’ll look at comments about nature or surroundings, other artists or people, the process, and then everything else. I’ll also share my favorite responses at the end and ramble a little bit about what inspires my work. Let’s get to it.

Nature / Surroundings

First, let’s hear from potters that are inspired by nature or their environment.

Dani_firlefanz____ Nature ?????????????⭐️

Adamina Walk in the forest ?

Kilnjoy The natural rhythms of our planet in relation to the sun and moon, stark contrasts between light and shadow, and the patterns found in nature, particularly flora.

Pathwaypottery Scripture, nature, music.

Teerraku Everything in the processes of the earth

Cosmic_sophira I found my inspiration in sacred ceremonies of different native american tribes,in fire,water,in crystal,in PLANTS ♡

Sandyvanderwyk Walking around, noticing things.

Other Artists/People

There were also some great comments about inspiration from other people.

Ratbagstudios The past, family heritage & other female art makers.

Djhmfa Humanity inspires my work – – we all need a sense of community!

Nancyeoakley1969 nature, my heritae, traditions, family

Honnoria Of late, in our community studio, we are feeding off each other. I can see where one person is taking a small bit of what another is doing. We are making it our own, but it is coming from another. I can’t wait to see how we build it all into something great.

The Process

There were a few comments mostly about the process.

Jerichostudiopottery My hands when the clay is turning between them on the wheel.

Studio2ceramics Usually our ideas come about while walking our dogs together. We chat about the process and voila- an idea arises.

Other / All

Now let’s hear some of the comments that didn’t fit into the previous categories.

Shawna.n.m.barnes My time in the Army, love of animals, and creating work that promotes discussion. My latest series is art that educates in a fun and engaging way.

Stonecropstudio Folk art…it’s good natured look at life, even in the face of struggle. Its humour, playfulness, and humanity. Also the lovely white surface of a clay pot begging for a paintbrush!!

Cocaineblows The inexplicable urge to create something new to give to the world. My preoccupation with changing matter is what draws me to pottery in particular ?☕

Mountainpathpottery The textures in life natural and manmade. Playing with the balance between form, colour and texture, an intuitive process that inspires me.

Gingerlytwisted Bugs, creatures, old machinery, paint layers, textures, looking closely at things.. other artists , listening to what others see in my work I love the feedback that makes me see what I hadn’t

Dmpottery Nature, historical objects and patterns, playing with form, the process itself

Mepifano The engaging power of the possibilities in creating with clay… To be the link between my conception and your perception. The connection with the earth and through my hands with the world…


These last few responses were my favorite.

Gravesco Inspiration usually comes to me from a sense of conversation. The kind of comfortable conversation between friends where you’re curled up on the sofa with your feet under a blanket talking about what’s going on in your life. While the visual aesthetic of my forms is simple and traditional, the images and text I carve are all about the attitude and things we say to people we feel comfortable with, good or bad, but usually causing at the very least a good chuckle.

I liked this comment because it focused more on inspiration for the subject matter instead of form or surface.

KaraLeighCeramics The textures and colours of the Devon beaches and moors where I spent my childhood ?

This made me stop and think. I bet there are things that inspire my work that I’m not even aware of. Things I loved or my surroundings growing up. Things I’ve forgotten. Maybe even things I take in subconsciously. Thanks Kara for making me think!

_shandi.reynolds_ The success of my peers

This is an interesting response to think about. I suppose I’m inspired by other people’s success. Maybe not the work itself but if I see someone else doing great things it motivates me to keep going because I want to be successful too.  I keep working hard or try new things.

2frogsstudio A good challenge! When I find a form that eludes me, I give it up for a while and then a while later, I’m consumed by needing to fight my fear of failure. That’s how I started making teapots. Now it’s my go to project for fun.

This was another interesting response, especially the fear of failure part. On one hand I feel like fear of failure stops me from trying something new or taking big risks. But I think it also helps me make better work sometimes. Or at least more technically sound work. I make sure to secure a handle on a mug not only because I like making good work, but also because I don’t want someone else to  be disappointed with something I made. What if they think I’m a terrible person?! What if I get a bad review on Etsy?! I like how 2frogs studio can overcome the fear of failure to make something new.

Martha H Sometimes observing the actions of our society, can spur you artistically to take that walk, with a new closer intimate look at nature, for solace, consoling our disappointments with humanity and then the light bulb turns on and you see the POPS of texture, color, even musty smells…… leads you in front of the wheel, or hand building .and then the URGE in your hands take over …pure magic

This response also made me think. Nearly all of my inspiration comes from positive events or things that I like or something that catches my eye. It sounds like Martha is saying that disappointment can enhance the way she experiences things when she is working with clay. I’ll have to consider this thought as I think more about my own inspiration.

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on inspiration.

glaze closeupSo… What inspires my work? That SEEMS like a simple question at first. But when I start thinking about it, I feel like there are so many different things that inspire my work to varying degrees. First of all I think all of us are at least somewhat inspired by the materials. The clay itself inspires me. The way it can be formed in different ways. From wheel throwing to the thinnest fabric-like slabs and the way you can carve or stamp or add texture. And the glazes inspire me. I love the glazes that move a lot as they are fired so I’m always trying to figure out how to take advantage of that as I’m making.

I’m also inspired by, to a certain extent, certain ideas or concepts. I love old stuff. I like to think that when things are old it means they were worth keeping around. There’s usually some kind of value to something old, at least for somebody. Either it’s made to last because someone wants it to be around for a long time or someone discovers it and has some kind of connection to it. I’m also fascinated with the idea of navigation and exploration. Adventure, trying new things, growth… those are all things I’m always looking for. So when I put old maps on some of my pots, those are some of the reasons I do.

map cups

And of course, I’m inspired by the work of other artists, especially other potters. My biggest influences have been local potters. This makes sense, not only because there is so much talent in the Michiana area, but because I get to see, hold and study their pots more than any other pots. I find details or little parts of the process that I really like and try to apply them to my own work. For example, I love the way Justin Rothshank throws loosely and the complex way he combines texture, glazes, and layers of decals to get such a great depth to his pots. I love Dick Lehman’s glazes and the way he uses them in different firing environments to get some unbelievable surfaces. I love Mark Goertzen’s shapes and proportions and Troy Bungart’s precise curves and the high standards he has for each pot. I love Todd Pletcher’s attention to detail, especially in his rims and handles. I also love the design elements and humor in Rebecca Graves’ pots and the simplicity of Jennifer Beachy’s work which makes for a fantastic canvas to show off her interesting decals. I also love the overall feel of Eric Strader’s and Fred Driver’s work. They have both been making pots a long time each have their own refined and recognizable style. I see all these things and I’m inspired to take the time to apply them to my own work. I even enjoy the way Zach Tate can make political statements through his work, though I haven’t ventured into making political statements in my own work yet. Let me just say, that I am unbelievably lucky to be part of the Michiana Pottery scene and learn from all these amazing people and the rest that I didn’t even mention.

I suppose I’m also inspired by nature, maybe even subconsciously. My glaze colors are mostly earth tones and I have even played with some plant stamps and textures. I bet if I spent more time in the wilderness and away from screens I would notice a lot more of the amazing things in nature which would inspire new directions in my work.

I’ll stop there for now, but as you can see, there is a lot that inspires my work. Is there anything unique that inspires your work? Don’t forget, you can share a message for a future podcast episode.

We would love to hear about it! Go to expertclay.com/mtp to find out how you can share your thoughts, maybe even be a part of a future MudTalk Podcast. In the next episode we’ll discuss the characteristics of a good pot. Thanks for listening. And until next time, stay inspired, and stay muddy!

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