My First Pottery Teacher

Throwing on the potters wheel ~~~ wanting to get my hands into a revolving wet mass of clay ~~~ this is what enticed me into my first clay class.

I’d watched the potter in the south of France throw on his wheel. His image was ingrained in my mind. I can still see his hands around the clay.

When I returned to the United States and settled into a suburb of Washington, D.C. I was excited to find a notice that a local potter was offering wheel instruction. I immediately called her.

“Her” is Susan Schumpert. I was her first student, she my first potter teacher. I lived for my weekly wheel classes with Susan. She taught me the basics of throwing, trimming, glazing and most important of all she talked to me about pots. Susan’s enthusiasm infected me so much that when I moved to Kansas a year later I sought out another potter.

Because my former husband was in the military it was only one more year before our family moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Here I had access to the post craft shop with ten wheels and a gas kiln. I was off and running when I was asked to teach basic pottery classes for children.

In 1981 I attended my first (and most formative) clay workshop at the Appalachian Center for Crafts. The clay instructors were Joe Bova, Sandy Simon and
Cynthia Bringle. Two weeks!! Two weeks of clay, wheels available any time we wanted to throw, students from all over the U.S. who were as smitten as I about clay. For me Cynthia Bringle was THE turning point ~ her commitment to a life of clay work, her words, encouragement and dedication to getting the best from her students. What a marvel she was then and continues to be now. Thank you Cynthia. You are the reason I’m a potter.

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