Why Carve the Clay | Kyle Guymon | Episode 351

Kyle Guymon | Episode 351

Kyle Guymon is a potter from Bountiful Utah, and he carves and alters every form to make either by relief or line carvings or distorting the form from the inside out. Imagery comes from elephants, birds, bison and from nature that use the Fibonacci sequence (succulent plants and nautili’s shells)









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You are a pretty busy guy. How do you find the balance to do all that you need to do as teacher, husband, dad, and artist?

I think I am still trying to find that because if I put too much into one then I lose another aspect. So I am still trying to figure that out I guess.

There is so much detail in your work. How do you know when it’s finished?

I learned a long time ago that I had to stop myself and just say enough is enough. If I were to sit there and go over every little aspect I don’t think I would ever be done with the pot.

Because you carve a piece so much the tension of the clay itself varies radically from section to section. How much loss to have as  a result of the differences in tension?

It was a steep learning curve but now the only time I’ll lose a piece is if the glaze runs. I don’t lose a piece now through carving. I don’t know how many thousands of pounds of clay I had to go through to figure that out though. It’s drying. You have to let the pots dry nice and slow. If you let them speed dry you are going to get cracks.

Do you throw with carving in mind or do you throw and then project a carving upon it?

I always just throw to throw and then I figure out what pattern or design will work best for said form. The only ones that I throw for specific carving are the elephant vases. Because I have a specific shape that I throw for that carving, so I sit down and I throw that shape.

What kind of glazes do you use on your surface? 

I use Amaco Brent  Velvet underglazes or their liquid underglazes. Or I make Terra sigs and cover them with mason stains. Or on the glazed parts I do glazes I find and I will tweak a recipe.

What is the most important tool you have in your tool kit?

It’s a little carving tool that Kemper makes. But i just started using Zebra tools from Diamond Core. Those things are super sharp, super slick.

When you look at what you are doing, what is favorite part of the process? Is it the throwing, the carving, the glazing, or the firing?

I love to throw. That is what I first fell in love with, was throwing. But now it is laying a pattern down and actually removing all the clay and seeing all the clay come out in an image and kind of take form. I hate glazing. I wish I could just have somebody glaze for me.

How do you price your work? I am very curious because your work is so time intensive.

How long it takes me to make a piece is how I base the price. If a piece takes me, like a yunomi, if they take me an hour they are going to be anywhere from fifty to sixty-five, but cups are thirty-five to forty just depending on the carving or the glazes.

My last question for you. What role does courage play in creativity?

A huge part. If you are not willing to push the boundaries and limits of your work then nobody’s going to do it for you. That is one thing over the past two years I have had to come to grips with. And that is one thing I am definitely going to start pushing with my work now. Because who is dumb enough to sit there and spend an hour carving a cup. If you are going to sit there and do that you better have a plan, you better have an idea and be able to execute it. I think without courage I don’t think I would be able to dip my toes into that pool and pull it off.


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