Clay wares spark fire
Potters throw themselves into unique art BY KAY PLAVIDAL
Shortly before completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Sul Ross State University, Gregory Tegarden took a Ceramics class from Jim Bob Salazar. “It was over! Working with clay was all I wanted to do,” exclaims Tegarden, who now teaches Ceramics at Sul Ross.
Gregory is best known for his large jars, pots and planters. He is a natural at shaping forms on the potter’s wheel, which he attributes to keen muscle memory and his willingness to “have a conversation with the clay.”
During graduate school, Gregory learned a traditional Thai method of coil-throwing large vessels from Daniel Johnston, a North Carolina “large jar” potter. With this hand-building technique, a vessel is built by consecutively adding narrow ropes of clay and refining the internal and external walls to create a uniform, homogeneous surface. “It’s all about the timing,” explains Tegarden, because the clay is continuously changing. Creating a large form typically takes three days. “Then you fire it and hope it doesn’t crack.”
Gregory feels a personal connection with the Chihuahuan Desert of the Big Bend; it is the primary influence on his work. Desert plants inspire his forms and decorative rims, and the austere landscape inspires his surface treatments.
Check out Gregory’s work at Gallery on the Square in Alpine.