Here is the second in my series of interviews with NH potters who are members of NHPG. Jeff and I have participated in many wood firings with Paul. He creates beautiful jugs and flasks that are kissed by the flame of his wood kiln in Londonderry, NH. Next month Paul and his wife Jen are coming to Seagrove for a visit... we can't wait to see them again!
M: How long have you been making pots and what got you started in
P: I started in high school and dropped it for many years, to the protestation of my mother. The running joke is that the older I got, the smarter my mom got. I picked it back up maybe 6-7 years ago when my wife got me a class with Jeff Brown as a present. Jeff is still a friend and influence in my work.
M: Who or what inspires you the most and how is it incorporated into
P: Old American pottery is a strong influence in my work. My aim is not to copy works, but to contrast the forms with a modern feature or texture. I also like contrasting more classic "delicate" forms with a heavy wood fire effect that makes them approachable.
I recently had the chance to visit Old Edgefield Pottery in SC, where local materials are used to recreate old local slave-made pieces. The connection I felt to the old collection was pretty powerful. Wire marks from cutting the piece from the wheel, a fingerprint at the handle join, or the fire direction evident on the pot made me feel like it could have been made this week and that I could talk to the potter about kilns. Producing quality work that still shows that story and "soul" is what I strive for.
I've introduced just a bit of sculpture to keep my mind working as well. A lot of that is influenced by my interest in science and the horror genre. It's 180 degrees away from a lot of my functional work and it forces me to slow down and learn a few things.
M: Clay body?
P: I use T3 (a good standard stoneware) from Sheffield Pottery, Domestic Porcelain from Dave Pellerin at Wellhouse Farm Pottery (this clay picks up incredible salmon blushes in the wood fire), and a mix of the two bodies that gives a swirled effect.
M: Firing method?
P: My work is all wood fired in my Bourry box/sprung arch kiln. Now that I send warning notices to the neighbors, they are a bit less likely to call the fire department.
M: What is your favorite pizza? (just because we potters LOVE to make
and eat it!)
P: There's a local place that makes a BBQ chicken pizza that is just killah. Last year I made 10 pizzas on my birthday and broke our oven. This summer I hope to make a wood fired pizza oven; I suppose that I could use the kiln if I wanted to burn a quarter cord of wood every time I fire it up.
A big thank you to Paul for answering my questions and sparing my readers of another post about ME.
If you want to contact Paul or purchase his work:
Wiley Hill Mudworks
All Photos Courtesy of the Artist