Sunday, January 31, 2016

Coffee & Conversation: Confessions of a Pottery Addict

Left: Karen Windchild's work, which was part of a Fall 2006 exhibit at the DFAC, intrigued Lee enough that he signed up for a clay class.

"It wasn't something I would have wanted in my living room," Lee told the group gathered in Studio B at the Dunedin Fine Art Center a couple of weeks ago. "But my mind couldn't get over -- still can't get over -- what she had done with clay."

"It" was a ceramic sculpture, similar to the one in the photograph, by Palm Beach artist Karen Ann Sholmberg Windchild. For our anniversary at the end of 2005, I had given Lee a gift certificate to take a class at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. I had thought he might take a drawing or painting class, as every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. he had a date with Donna Dewberry and also had started watching Terry Madden and Bob Ross

He also had taken some blacksmithing classes at Heritage Village in Largo and, over the years, had done some woodworking. But he had never even considered working with clay.

Towards the end of 2006, when we were concerned the gift certificate might expire, we stopped in at the DFAC to see what classes were being offered. That's when Lee saw Karen Windchild's work and decided to sign up for a clay class.

And he was hooked. More than hooked. It was the beginning of an obsession -- the good kind.

In the almost ten years since then, he has taken many, many classes and workshops covering different ways to form, finish, and fire clay. He has hunted books on clay in libraries and bookstores, finding them in the art, craft, science, technology, industry, and history sections. Through the wonderful world of YouTube, he spends hours watching village potters in parts of Asia, industrial ceramicists in Europe, and artists around the world -- and he tries much of what he sees and reads about other potters doing. He also has put his mechanical skills to use building, rebuilding, and repairing different kinds of kilns.

Ironically, that day in 2006 that we saw Karen Windchild's work and he signed up for a clay class, we stopped at the library for books on blacksmithing -- his interest at the time. And the first book he opened said that working with clay was one way to learn blacksmithing because the clay can be manipulated in the same way as hot iron -- without the heat or noise or time constraints.

In another post, I will show the one piece he wrought out of clay using blacksmithing techniques. For now, it is enough to note that the anvil he had bought remains unused. The clay has formed the artist into something other than either of us ever expected. 

Below: Some of the items Lee has made over the almost ten years he has been working with clay. The two small horsehair pots at the left were made about seven years apart; although they are the same size, the older one is noticeably heavier than the other, which demonstrates Lee's increased skill in throwing. The black-and-white pot at the far right is hand-built using a slump technique. Although it appears round, you can feel the joints -- unlike the thrown pot at center right. At the back are various books I have collected that offer a more literary look at clay, pottery, and potters.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Event: Coffee & Conversation at DFAC

Thursday, January 14, I will be part of the Dunedin Fine Art Center's Coffee & Conversation series. Despite what the text below says, I don't know how much I will "thrill" people, but it should be fun.

Both of us will be there, actually. Anne has put together a presentation based on the idea that the medium shapes the artist as much or more than the artist shapes the medium, and I will share how I have explored different aspects of working with clay. It may not be thrilling, but I'm guessing we will have a good time.

Here's the write-up:

Coffee and Conversation with Lee Anderson 1-14-16 at DFAC

Coffee and Conversation with Lee Anderson at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
Lee_Anderson---2006---P9230230---400 Hanging out, drinking delicious coffee, talking about art… ahhhh, that’s the life! Well, that IS the life at least for an hour or so each month at the Dunedin Fine Art Center’s Coffee and Conversation series. Enjoy coffee (Presented by the Sterling Society of DFAC) and  insights as each month’s invited guest holds forth on their own area of expertise.  Admission to these relaxed talks is $5 and is FREE to current DFAC members.
Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 12 noon,the series hosts clay artist Lee Anderson. He is going to thrill you with live demonstrations of throwing on the wheel and burnishing. He’ll discuss different clay and methods of working them as well as different glazes and styles of firing.  All of this will be illustrated with photos and actual finished clay pieces.  Be ready to be inspired!
Lee V. Anderson began working with clay in a class a decade ago at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and quickly developed an intense avocation for pottery and the ceramic arts. He studies the physical and chemical properties of the clay and glazes so he can work with instead of against the material, which then frees him to play with form and structure. In particular, he has been drawn to interpreting Southwestern and Scandinavian forms, to hand-burnishing work with a polished stone or the back of a spoon, and to the smoke and fire of raku. He has learned that it’s not all about what he does in the throwing, shaping, glazing, or firing. The clay takes on a life of its own as it responds to each of the stages in the process, and he is often surprised by what he finds when he opens the kiln.

Lee V. Anderson teaches at the Dunedin Fine Art Center. He is grateful to the many instructors and artists in the area who have guided and mentored his growth as an artist, and to the many ceramicists and clay artists—some who have lived in other lands and in other times—who have transferred their knowledge to printed and digital media. More information about his work can be found at
So stop by for some Coffee & Conversation. Or call ahead to the Palm Cafe’ (298.DFAC ext 237) and have lunch waiting for you!
Coffee and Conversation with Lee Anderson– Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 12 Noon.
for more info call 727-298-DFAC,
Dunedin Fine Art Center – 1143 Michigan Blvd. – Dunedin, FL 34698

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last 2 Days for All Decked Out at the Dunedin Fine Art Center

Tomorrow is the last day for All Decked Out, the 29th Annual Holiday Show and Sale, an Invitational of Fine Art, Craft + Design show at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

I have been honored to have been invited to include my work in this show for the last several years.

Watch for information about my Coffee & Conversation Series presentation at DFAC on January 14.

The gift of art lasts forever!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vases & Vahzes: Variations in Clay / August 13

Wendy Duran
Coming Event: Thursday, August 13 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Join ceramic artists Wendy Durand and Lee Anderson for an evening of hand-building, throwing, shaping, and forming ... and maybe a surprise or two along the way.

Watch them create new work alone and together, and view an exhibit of finished pieces.
Lee Anderson

Wendy is a slab construction hand-builder at Soft Water Studios in St. Petersburg, and Lee teaches wheel throwing at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center.

Two artists, complementing each other by demonstrating and interacting with their different approaches to clay, will make for an informative and entertaining evening.

Soft Water Studios is located at 515 22nd Street S. in St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District.

For more information, check out Wendy's Web site at or view Lee's site at

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Credit Where Credit is Due...

Some people have wondered about the five preceding posts that are not about my work but are about the owners of the five area studios that were the host sites for the 2014 Tampa Bay Tour de Clay. Each of the people and studios profiled -- Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand (Pottery Boys Studio), Ira Burhans (Clay and Paper Studio), Kim Kirchman and Mark Fehl (Hidden Lakes Pottery), Kim Wellman-Welsch and Harry Welsch (Wellman and Welsch Pottery), and Jack Boyle (San Antonio Pottery) -- have taught me much about about the art and the craft of pottery, about the business of art, about teaching, and about life.

So when the Tour participants were looking for someone to write some material promoting the event, Anne volunteered to write some general press releases. But she also wanted to write profile pieces on the studio owners, which they could then use as promotional pieces of their own.


I'll be back soon.....

Friday, December 12, 2014

St. Petersburg native, now San Antonio ceramicist, ponders ‘intergalactic scavenger hunt’ in clay

Over his forty years as a potter, Jack Boyle, owner 
of San Antonio Pottery, says he has produced 
hundreds of thousands of mugs, goblets, trays, and 
other functional pieces. (Image courtesy of Jack 
Boyle/San Antonio Pottery)
Fifth in a series by Anne W. Anderson (the other half of "we") who visited with the studio owners hosting this year’s Tampa Bay Tour de Clay, a series of self-guided tour stops stretching from Palm Harbor to San Antonio

It was visits to his Uncle Al that started San Antonio potter Jack Boyle on the path to clay.

“I was maybe 5 or 7, but he’d let us play with the clay,” Boyle said. “Then he’d fire what we had made and send it to us.”

What Boyle didn’t appreciate at the time was that Uncle Al owned Jugtown Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina, a pottery community with roots going back at least 200 years. Then Uncle Al sold the shop and the visits stopped.

A decade or so later, Boyle, born in St. Petersburg and a graduate of Lakewood High School, enrolled in the University of South Florida as an art major.

Jack Boyle records information from a 
kiln firing in one of hundreds of note-
books he has kept over the years. “I’m 
looking for the thread of consistency 
that will help me get similar results each 
time,” said Boyle. But the weather, the 
way the kiln is loaded, and other factors 
all affect those results. 

(Photo by Anne W. Anderson)
“I walked into the studio at USF, and the smell of the clay and the atmosphere in the studio brought those visits back,” Boyle said. Boyle graduated in 1977 with a degree in art and a concentration in ceramics.

He thought he would head south to the Ellenton area. But a friend of his knew someone selling a wheel and kiln and other equipment. He also had space to lease at a price Boyle couldn’t refuse.

There was one small problem. San Antonio, in a rural part of Pasco County—Boyle’s shop looks out on a hay field across the road—isn’t exactly teeming with potential customers. Boyle had to find ways to connect with a larger customer base.

“I did everything I could think of and never turned down an opportunity,” Boyle said.

“Everything” meant a grueling schedule of art and craft festivals, pitching his work to galleries across the country, selling work in his own shop, and teaching classes. More recently, he has begun producing videos featuring artists around the country. Boyle and his wife, Deborah Gillars, a recently retired high school art teacher, raised three children and put them through college. They built a home and kept adding to their shop.

Shelves filled with glazed mugs, bowls, and 
other functional pieces of service ware are 
ready to be rolled into the gas-fired kiln at 
San Antonio Pottery. (Image courtesy of Jack 
Boyle / San Antonio Pottery)
Boyle has created hundreds of thousands of mugs, bowls, and other functional stoneware pieces in his almost forty-year career. 

His work is rustic and earthy. What appears to be a small tree branch forms a pouring handle curved above a footed teapot glazed in river-blue and loam-brown. Bowls glazed in shades of dark coffee, cobalt and cream feature designs carved into the rims, dark lines evoking rolling foothills or the waves of a wind-rippled field of grass. Browns and blues and greens flow over vases’ carved bellies like streams over stones, inviting the hand as well as the eye to explore the surfaces.

But Boyle’s work isn’t just that of an artist. And some of his most important tools aren’t his wheel or kiln.

Boyle begins most pieces with a tape measure, a calculator, and calipers. His customers expect pieces of specific dimensions, so he measures the height, the width at the belly, and other spots of a finished model piece, using the metric side of his tape “because the system makes more sense,” Boyle explained.

“Then I add a percentage to the measurements to allow for shrinkage in the kiln,” Boyle said, tapping the keys of the calculator.

As he forms the new piece on the wheel, Boyle takes periodic measurements to be sure he is staying true to the model.

Other important tools are the gauges controlling the flow of propane into his gas-fired kiln and the pyrometer that tells him how hot the temperature is inside the kiln.

Names of scientists throughout history, along with the 
years of their births and deaths, cover Jack Boyle’s 
“Space Saucer,” a tribute to curiosity and discovery. 

(Photo courtesy of Jack Boyle / San Antonio Pottery)
“I always fire my pieces to at least 2300 degrees,” Boyle said, adding that doesn’t use lead or other toxins in his glazes.

Boyle’s gas kiln sits on his back porch and is so big the racks are built on a trolley that slides in and out of the kiln on metal tracks. Each time he checks the temperature in the kiln, Boyle records the information in a notebook. Later he reads through his notebooks.

“I have hundreds of these,” he said. “I’m looking for the thread of consistency that will help me understand how to get similar results each time. A change in the barometric pressure or the way I stack the pieces in the kiln can change the way the glazes work.”

Boyle estimates he has produced hundreds of thousands of mugs, trays, bowls, vases, and other functional art over the almost forty years he has worked as a potter. Recently, however, he has begun producing a more conceptual line of work.

The prose on Jack Boyle’s “Rocket Ship” begins 
with Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step…” 
quote from the 1969 moon landing but ends…
well, that would spoil it, wouldn’t it? Boyle, 
owner of San Antonio Pottery, says he is inspired 
by his voracious science fiction reading habit which 

fuels his thinking during15-mile morning bike rides. 
(Photo courtesy of Jack Boyle / San Antonio Pottery)
Many of the pieces in the series are shaped like rockets or saucers and feature Boyle’s musings about the universe, gleaned from his “voracious” reading habit and often surfacing during his 15-mile bike rides each morning on the back roads near San Antonio. One saucer-shaped piece features the names of various scientists through history, along with the years each lived on earth.

Boyle is fascinated by the ancient geoglyphs—massive images carved into the surface of the earth and visible only from the air—found around the world. One of those images, a 150-foot long spider that is part of the Peruvian Nazca line glyphs, appears in miniature form on one of Boyle’s rocket ships along with carved prose and the latitude and longitude of the glyph.

“Don’t you just wonder if those geoglyphs aren’t part of some sort of intergalactic scavenger hunt?” Boyle asked, his eyes twinkling at the idea.

Tour-goers following the south-to-north route will find Jack Boyle’s San Antonio Pottery studio listed as the last stop. Guest artists Michele Ginouves, Hil-Dee Bates, Maggie Clark, Barbara Ott, and Joel Ott will display their work throughout the shop, and Jack will open his large kiln out back around 5 p.m. Join the party, too—there will be music, an antique Coke cooler with beverages, and lots of festivity. 

Wellman and Welsch Pottery in Lutz a labor of love

Lutz ceramic artists, Kim Wellman-Welsch and 
Harry Welsch, along with daughter, Adrienne 
Wellman-Welsch, take a photo break from their 
work producing thousands of functional and 
decorative pieces each year, which they sell at 
juried art shows and festivals across the
 Midwestern and Southeastern United States. 
(Photo by Anne W. Anderson)
Fourth in a series by Anne W. Anderson (the other half of we), who visited with each of the studio owners hosting the 2014 Tampa Bay Tour de Clay, a self-directed series of stops stretching from Palm Harbor to San Antonio. 

It’s the middle of September and Kim Wellman-Welsch and Harry Welsch, owners of Wellman and Welsch Pottery in Lutz, have just returned from working at their summer studio in Michigan and from making the rounds of juried art shows and festivals in more northern states.

Daughter Adrienne Wellman-Welsch, who keeps the Florida studio running when they are gone, and Phoebe, the dark gray studio cat, are helping them settle back in.

Not for long, however. In two weeks, they’ll head to Louisville, Kentucky, for the St. James Court Art Show, then appear in Winter Park the following weekend and in Ocala two weekends after that. In between, they produce the thousands of pieces of work they sell in a year. This, along with Welsch’s teaching high school physics, has been their life for almost 40 years.

Lutz potter Harry Welsch throws a small 
piece in the Florida studio he and Kim 
Wellman-Welsch call home for most of the 
year. Welsch, recently retired from Tampa's 
Chamberlain High School, where he taught
 physics for more than two decades, said the 
most successful scientists are the most 
creative thinkers. 
(Photo by Anne W. Anderson)
Somewhere along the line, the line between “her pottery” and “his pottery” blurred, then disappeared. He/she would start a piece; he/she would trim it and finish it; together they would fire, glaze, and fire again. For the last few years, a third pair of hands—daughter Adrienne’s—has joined the chain from wheel to table to kiln to shelf. Their son lives in Orlando.

Kim Wellman-Welsch may have started the wheel turning, as it were, by taking a pottery class from a friend back in the mid-1970s. But Harry Welsch kept the wheel turning and the kiln firing. In fact, he built the first wheel and kiln.

“That was about the time Adrienne was born and everyone was hippies,” says Wellman-Welsch with a laugh, referring to the revival of interest in the handcrafts during that period. She sewed and had taken basket weaving and loom weaving classes, and she was working for the phone company in Bradenton.

Working with clay sounded like fun, so she accepted her friend’s invitation, not knowing how radically it would alter their lives.

Earth-toned glazes in shades of blues, rust, and sand flow 
across this large platter made by Wellman and Welsch 
Pottery in Lutz. Clay holders grasp bundled-reed handles, 
suggesting the link between the organic and the inorganic, 
the living and the life-giving. 
(Photo courtesy of Wellman and Welsch Pottery)
“She’s what we call a natural,” says Welsch of his wife. “The first time she sat down to throw, she could center [the clay]. She was cranking out pots so fast her friend couldn’t keep up with firing them.”

So Welsch built a kiln—the first of many, as it turned out. But he knew what he was doing.

“The first serious job I had was setting up travel trailers—doing the wiring, plumbing, and other construction,” says Welsch, who also has made all the work tables in the studio and some of their home furniture.

It also didn’t hurt that he had studied physics, along with chemistry and biology, in college.

“I built her first clay wheel from a physicist’s perspective,” Welsch says, speaking of the forces working on the clay as it spins.

The faster the wheel spins, the more tendency there is for the clay to be pulled off center and to fly off the wheel or, if perfectly centered, to flatten and spread evenly toward the edges. The potter’s job is to counter the force of the spinning wheel, keep the clay centered, and draw the clay inward and upward. Once the clay is evenly centered, then the potter must control the rate at which the piece is opened and at which the walls are pulled outward and upward.

Before long, Welsch was sitting down at the wheel, too. Then people started buying their work.

One of the tens of thousands of mugs, bowls, and other
functional pieces Lutz potters Kim Wellman-
Welsch and Harry Welsch have made over their almost 40 
years as professional artists. The distended areas recall a 
time before silverware when potters added bits of clay to 
the drinking vessels so they wouldn’t slip out of greasy 
hands.  (Photo by Anne W. Anderson)
“One day, she just told the phone company, ‘I quit,’ which appalled our parents,” says Welsch.

“But we have always treated it like a business with accountants and health insurance,” Wellman-Welsch says. “I have been a working mother since 1976, when I started working in the studio full time. My kids grew up being around clay.”

Wellman-Welsch says she finds centering the clay very calming.

“It’s the feeling in the flow of the clay,” Adrienne adds, as her mother picks up a finished mug and cradles it in her hands.

The mug Wellman-Welsch holds isn’t the non-descript, smooth-sided coffee shop variety. This mug, glazed seafoam green on the bottom and sky blue on the top, grows smoothly from the base then bulges outward toward the midsection.

“Back in the days before people used silverware to eat, potters would add bits of clay on the outside of drinking vessels,” Welsch explains. “That way they wouldn’t slip out of greasy hands.” He gestures toward the distended area in the mug where lines carved into the clay have caused the glazes to pool and blend. “We use an incisor tool to distort the clay and add interest.”

“It gives a more tactile experience for whoever is using it,” Wellman-Welsch says.

This graceful, tall, lidded box, created by 
Wellman and Welsch Pottery in Lutz, rises 
from its base and fans out near the top. 
Brown sandy glaze ripples down like a 
wave-patterned beach being dragged 
out to sea by the aquamarine undertow. 
(Photo courtesy of Wellman and Welsch Pottery)
“We want people to pick them up, feel the 
distortions, spin them around in their hands,” Welsch says.

“They feel good to us,” Wellman-Welsch begins.

“And we want them to feel good to others,” Welsch finishes.
Part of the Wellman and Welsch artistry is in adding visual and tactile layers to seemingly simple pieces like mugs and bowls.

Another part is in the melding of natural elements, especially in the larger-form pieces they create. Attachments formed into the clay pieces hold, after firing, handles of wrapped reeds, bamboo, tree branches, and other natural items, linking the wood and reeds with the earthy clay from which the organic matter grew. The glazes in shades of blues and browns and sands and greens flow into and around and through each other, recalling the intertwining of earth and sky and stream and sea and woods and marsh and desert.

The two may have been “naturals” when it came to pottery, but Welsch’s thirst for knowledge took them, in the late 1980s, to Rochester, New York, where he earned an M.F.A. They returned to this area, thinking Welsch might find a position teaching art. Instead, he became the physics teacher at Chamberlain High School.

“If you think about it,” says Welsch, who retired from teaching this past June, “DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Gallileo, all the heroes from physics, were both great engineers and great artists. The scientists who are the most successful are the ones who are the most creative thinkers.”

Tour-goers following the south-to-north route will find Wellman and Welsch Pottery listed as the fourth stop. Guest artists John Kellum, Laurie Landry, Charlie Parker, and Matt Schiemann will display their work on the grounds, and a 3 p.m. kiln opening is scheduled on Saturday. Look for Wellman and Welsch Pottery online at