About the Artist

I am drawn to the endless possibilities of working with clay. I love the freedom that I have to create any shape. I embrace the challenges that are inherent throughout the process of forming,  decorating, and firing.


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My Background

Learning to make pots has been an exciting journey. My first employment as a potter was with Rob and Beth Mangum, of Weaverville NCís Mangum Pottery. It was there that I learned a lot of studio fundamentals like how to mix glazes, wedge clay, and operate the kilns.

o'keefe potteryAfter a few years there, mostly making slab-ware I was ready to learn how to make better pots on the wheel. It was my good fortune to be offered a job with just such a focus in Seagrove, NC where I began a three year apprenticeship at Jugtown Pottery working for Pam and Vernon Owens. Having this rare opportunity to work at such a historic pottery with such wonderful teachers was instrumental for my personal artistic development. I gained a true appreciation for the traditional shapes and processes of North Carolina pottery and the seed was planted for the pottery that I envisioned setting up for myself one day.

My final formative experience was at the Hewitt Pottery in Pittsboro, NC. Working as apprentice for Mark gave me the final experience and knowledge required to strike out on my own.

the process

I work in a 3 month cycle beginning each cycle by making the clay. My clay body includes raw clay that comes from a clay pit in Seagrove. I first add water to the clay and form a slurry which I then sieve through a window screen. Next, I add my commercial materials, mix the clay, and then set it out to dry on a large plaster bat. I then pull up the clay and wedge it while it is still fairly soft. After it is wedged I form the clay into arches and let it stiffen up a bit more in the studio until it is ready to work with.

The pots are all made on the wheel with the exception of some slab-built trays and platters. Some of the larger pieces are made in two sections, then joined together and capped with an additional thrown ring. After I have added any additional attatchments I let the pots dry, apply slips, and then glaze in their raw state, that is, without being bisque–fired. I like the decorating possibilities with this method of glazing and also the fact that it saves an exta firing step. After I have made enough pots and they are sufficiently dry they are ready to be loaded and fired.