Chris has been potting for about 30 years in London, Ontario, Canada. Chris works out of the London Clay Art Centre, teaches at Lambton College in Sarnia, and serves as Vice President and Director of Education and Programming for Fusion, The Ontario Clay and Glass Association. While he has a long history of creating functional pottery, for the last decade he has been primarily concerned with the use of imagery on his work using the slip transfer process.
I get a lot of inspiration from my fellows in the studio and seeing what they are doing as well as looking at other people’s work. But lately I’ve been more inspired by paintings, documentaries, collage work, graphic design work and textile work. I just saw a documentary on Turner, the painter, from the late seventeen, early eighteen hundreds and I was just so turned on. I just wanted to spend my entire summer doing paintings on clay. I’m looking forward to exploring more.
WHAT ARE ONE OF THE TOOLS YOU LOVE TO USE? A TOOL THAT YOU LOVE TO HAVE IN YOUR STUDIO?
That’s a difficult question to ask because they are all important in some way for various reasons. For example, my car. My car is an essential pottery tool. I have to get from A to B to be able to haul a certain amount of stuff. My computer is an important tool. But my single most important tool would have to be my slip trailer. I made a slip trailer out of a needle that they used to insert glue into marquetry. There’s an old hair coloring bottle that I picked up. I put the needle in it and it gives me the nicest, thin lines.
I read an article by Curtis Benzle and he had 10 rules to live by and the ones that stuck with me were, one, make what you love. Make the things that really, really excite you. Two, never forget that there are 11 billion people on the planet and somebody is going to like your stuff. You just need to get it in front of them. And three, don’t quit. Just don’t quit.
HOW IS YOUR TIME SPENT AS A POTTER? HOW MUCH TIME IS SPENT ON CREATIVITY, MARKETING ETC?
I spend more and more time on the computer largely because I do a lot of volunteer work with arts organizations and I think that they are really important. Not only to help the next generation come along, but also it has been reputation building for me. I have made a lot of contacts this way. I do a lot of answering of emails, although now I’m trying to limit that, so I actually do have time to make things. As far as percentages go, maybe 50 percent of the time I’m making stuff. I also produce a line of functional ware that is a little more accessible to people.It is lower priced and simple. Then there is other work that is more special and that is the work that people have really responded to.