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Mary Farrell throws a plate and adds the slip trailing. 34 WBM Writer Mike Mahan became interested in pot-tery while on a newspaper assign-ment more than 30 years ago. Now he blends the two artistic veins with soulful descriptions of his work on store tags and by blogging on the From the Ground Up Pottery website. Years ago, he unearthed pieces of clay pots and bricks from what he believed was an old kiln site in a creek on his property. He began to interview locals and checked deeds, and found that a previous owner had been a potter in the late 1800s. “I found shards and bricks in the creek with a name, W.J. Stewart, stamped on them. He’s not a well-known potter, but it’s said that he made whiskey on one side of the creek, and pottery on the other,” he says with a grin. Mahan shares that story on his website along with blogs of his adventures setting up a kiln in Ireland, and some prose inspired by his work at the wheel. In the same way he mixes the arts of writing and pottery, he mixes his work from highly functional to strictly artistic pieces. “Before the Revolutionary War, it was illegal to make pot-tery,” she says. “The British didn’t want American potters to compete. But the clay is here.” Her work, spanning over 45 years, is traditional with few exceptions. And she likes to mix styles, using a British border with a German design in the interior of a plate. “The only thing ‘new’ about this one (a plate design) is the blue background,” she says. “That is not traditional, but a lot of people love blue and request it.” A visit to her Westmoore Pottery studio feels like walking into a fairy tale. The interior, with its low ceilings, crosshatch win-dows, and open wood-burning hearth, prompts visitors to com-ment it feels like Santa’s workshop or Hansel and Gretel’s house. In line with her desire to educate the public about pottery, Farrell likes to host events that show life in the early 1700s or 1800s. A free hearth-cooking demonstration featuring recipes from the 1700s, like “jugged hare, onion pie and groats pud-ding” is planned for early November in her studio. Mike Mahan of From the Ground Up Pottery carries a work in progress at his studio. Opposite: The random effects of the wood-firing process are evident on some of Mahan’s recent work. november 2015 A NEW SPIN on old tradition


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