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Mike Mahan makes stamps of plaster or clay to create patterns like this tree motif. A sign for “Irish only parking” announces Mahan’s family heritage to visitors. Mary Mahan, his wife, explained her husband makes the usual things such as platters, vases, and bowls, but some have more meaning. “He gains a lot of strength from trees, and uses them as a main source of decoration for his work,” she explains. Most of the trees are etched in plates and vases using the Italian sgraffito (scratching) technique. While in Ireland this past summer, Mahan photographed birds in trees and has begun adding a bird on a limb to his new work. His pho-tography enhances his work. “The images you can gather with a camera, even an out-of-focus, blurry image, can get translated onto the pot somehow,” he says. He’s always interested in trying new things. Someone showed him a pot decorated with horsehair and he had to give it a try. Thought to be an American Indian pottery technique, the form is fired to a certain degree, then pulled while still hot. As the horsehair is artfully draped onto the form, it burns into the piece and the smoke darkens the finish of the product. Mahan continues the tradition of generational pottery by involving his son in the business. Levi, 27, likes to make utilitarian pieces, such as coffee mugs, plates and vases. “My favorite things to make are the tall, skinny bottles because they’re a challenge and I like the way the forms look when they are all together on a mantel or shelf,” Levi says. november 2015 36 WBM


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