August Artist Interview – Potter Nancy Gallagher

©Nancy Gallagher - This teapot was created by painting a yellow engobe over the entire base while the teapot is in a soft leather hard stage. The engobe was then carved through with sgrafitto tools, to reveal the dark espresso colored clay beneath it. It is then clear glazed on the inside and single fired to 2200 degrees in her kiln. The larger raw clay areas of the outside of the teapot have been burnished to give them a glossier finished look.
I first saw Nancy Gallagher and her work at the Foundry Day show in Boiling Springs.  I had never seen the engobe technique and loved the almost matte/chalky colors on her pots.  The bright yellows and blues really contrasts with the color of the clay.
 

1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)

I have always had some sort of artist’s tool in my hand from the earliest times I can remember. My Dad used to bring home pads of paper from work and my memories include many hours spent with a pad of paper from his desk drawer, and a Chase Manhattan pencil, sketching whatever came into my head. My artistic tendencies continued throughout school, receiving various awards, and graduating from high school in Seaford, NY, with both an academic and art diploma. I received a Bachelor of Fine arts from Kutztown University (then a State College) with an emphasis on Graphic Design. I never took a clay course at Kutztown, but was always interested (and a little jealous) and would often longingly look into the Ceramics class on my way to Illustration. Ceramics was considered an elective for my curriculum and never fit in time-wise with the rest of my scheduling. It was not until I received a summer course schedule from Harrisburg Community College in the mail some 20 years later, that I got involved in an Intro Wheel class. Although I didn’t really learn a huge amount about pottery in that class, I did learn that I loved working with clay and that’s how my clay obsession began.

2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?

My largest influence, not only within my own pottery, but the way I see, and what I see, in other pots, would be that of my mentor for the past two years, Bill van Gilder. Not only are his pots an inspiration to me, but he inspires within me both creativity and objectivity; to critically look at my own pots and strive to make them better with each firing.

3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?

There are many, many artists whose work I admire within the ceramics realm, and I don’t think I can possibly pick a favorite. I do tend to be drawn to pieces that have a delicate balance of raw clay and glaze – malleable looking forms with a certain depth within them, that you know came from the earth at their inception.

4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?

Cruet Set ©2011 Nancy Gallagher

I was set up at a small local town 4th of July event. It was the first time for me at that particular event and my booth was totally set up about 45 minutes before the start of the event. Since it was held in a small park, many local area people strolled through early before the official start. There was one nice older gentleman, maybe in his mid-eighties, who stopped by and said, ‘Good Morning’. He looked over all my pots, scanning the shelves up and down with his hands in his pockets. Finally he looks at me and says, ‘you sure have collected a lot of old stuff!’ I guess he thought I was selling antiques 🙂 I assured him that I made all the pots myself and that they were all, indeed new, and he seemed very much surprised. I think about him now every time I see the ‘early birds’ at shows and it makes me smile.

5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?

Again, there are so many and I enjoy collecting them. My favorite pots are the pots that seem to change a little each time I look at them. Perhaps ‘change’ isn’t a good word to use; moreover, it’s something I discover about the pot that I hadn’t noticed before. The way the sunlight bounces off an area of glaze, creating another color altogether; the contrasting smoothness when you hold a pot one way, versus a textured rawness when you hold it another. My absolute favorites are pots that pique my interest from all sides, pots that I can turn over and over and see something new or interesting each time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
These two photos show how the engobe applied to the leather hard clay. In this case, a paper stencil was used to create the swirls you see within the negative space of the clay. These are now both ready for the kiln.Nancy Gallagher Potteryis a small one-woman studio in Red Lion, PA, with a concentration in wheel thrown and altered stoneware. I am most interested in putting a new spin on traditional pots, and tend to be somewhat influenced by historic British and Medieval forms. I enjoy making pots for everyday use as I like the idea that a part of me, a part of what I love to do, what I love to create, will in turn, take it’s place in someone’s life; and they will in turn, enjoy handling, admiring and look forward to using it in their own home surroundings. 

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