Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet my friend Steve...

i decided a couple of weeks ago that i would do a series of posts about my potter friends from the NH Potters Guild.  i am sending each of them the same questions about their work and inspiration and lastly  what is their favorite pizza? (because as you know, i think pottery and pizza go hand in hand!)

it made sense to me to start with the president of the guild, Steve Cunliffe.  Steve is a studio potter from Henniker, NH.  he is awesome and we met at the very first potters market that the guild sponsored... it was the first time either of us got up the nerve to sell our work.  i think he ate most of the hershey kisses from my table that day.  here is what the very humorous Steve has to say:

1. How long have you been making pots and what got you started in pottery? 
Steve: I have some bowls that I use every day and the markings on the bottom read 04, SC, with a crown, scored with a needle tool.  These are the first.  Wicked rare, and wicked valuable.  I started that summer by borrowing a wheel from our local college (I still have the wheel)--Peter Sabin and Vivika Heino taught here, but the ceramic program no longer exists.  I was a furniture-maker who wanted a hobby, something to relax with and enjoy.   Up until I saw work by the Scheiers (google them and read their catalog from the Currier Museum--fantastic story!), I thought pottery was bland and boring.  At shows I would walk past pottery booths without a second glance.  I still think a lot of pottery is boring. 

2. Who or what inspires you the most and how is it incorporated into your work?  
Steve: Contemporary potters inspire me.  Local potter, Peter Sabin, has been my biggest influence.  Crisp, Clean, flawless.  But I wish I had that gene that allows loose, free flowing work.  But I don't.  I do like to try new methods, new ideas----nothing is sacred.  To get the best idea of what I value in pottery is to look at artists I follow ( in no order of importance)--Matthew Metz, Maren Kloppman, Michael Simon, Ayumi Horie, Michael Snipes, Steve Cunliffe, Peter Sabin, Ed and Mary Scheier, Kelly King, Jane Kaufmann, Rim Virgirdas (sp?), Tom Coleman, Ron Meyers, tom Spleth, and anyone else that expresses ideas and emotions into their work.  I do know that Steve Cunliffe's work is very reasonably priced.   I am forgetting a ton of people..............

3. Clay body?  
Steve: I use many prepared clays.  My favorites are a red stoneware, the one I started with, Standard #308, a white stoneware from Sheffield Clay (Massachusetts--nice people), and occasionally, any porcelain that comes around.

4. Firing method?  
Steve: Eclectric, eclectic, I mean electric. cone 6.  Occasionally, I fire in the NH Potters Guild wood kiln--look up the NHPG and join, many great opportunities.

5. What is your favorite pizza?  
Steve: Hmmm.............tonight I was finishing a bottle of wine and seasoning a wok (Joyce Chen model) at the same time, something all potters should relate to, sorry to say, no fire extinguisher needed.  Can you cook pizza in a wok?  I am partial to Greek olives on a cheese pizza--WELL DONE.  My local pizzeria told me to order my pizza, "Burnt, but not burnt."  Haven't heard that before, but it works.  Thanks, Michele, I owe you a Greek olive pizza---burnt.

Thank you Steve for being a good sport!
Steve Cunliffe is a statewide juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen and his work is available in their galleries.

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