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Stephen L. Ayers

Clay / Hannibal, MO

Artist Statement

It's the small things in life that brings art into your everyday life. It defines who you are and I strive to bring this into the world of my customers.
I started making pots 40 years ago when the man, who I would later apprentice with, did his student teaching in my high school art class. I was the only student to visit his studio and I was instantly hooked. On my first business card I had a Tao quote: “We turn clay to make a pot, but it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the pot depends”, which means that the point of a coffee mug is not the mug, its the coffee. There is no point in the mug existing if you can't drink from it. I have spent my life thinking about the customer, and how they use what I make. Bowls need to be the right size and shape to fit in a dishwasher, handles need to be comfortable in your hand, spouts need to pour and lips need to be strong so the pots don't crack when you bang them in the sink. I feel strongly that pots should be both well designed and beautiful...they are equally important factors. None of us can do what we do if we ultimately can't please our customers.

In the last couple of years I have started playing around with making larger more impressive pieces that push the level of my skill. After having a serious health issue, I realized that's it time to make the pots I am truly capable of creating!

I make cone 10 stoneware functional pottery, mostly hand thrown by myself plus some extrusion shapes, slab work and other methods...any creative way to make a great pot. I have also created some molds from my original pieces and then each one is individually manipulated on the wheel. I have a couple of shop assistants who load and unload kilns, pack orders, help glaze and finish pots. There is a lot more to running a pottery than just standing in front of a wheel throwing pots, as all craftsmen/artists know.

I have always mixed my own glazes and most recently I have been working on an ash green glaze that's rather cool. I get the ash from a wood fired pizza restaurant so I call the glaze “Brick Oven Ash”. Pottery is one of the few medias that truly starts with the raw material (clay and earth's deposits of cobalt, copper, iron, etc,) to end with a finished product, which makes it such a satisfying accomplishment.

Biography

I truly feel that everything I do is the quintessential definition of artisan/craftsman. All of my work is created within my studio, by my own design and expertise and made with the desire of creating quality work for collectors to enjoy and use throughout their lifetime (and with care, to be passed onto the next generation!). We can all go to WalMart and not remember how that $50-$100 bill was spent (nor even remember the checkout girl/guy) but we DO remember buying from an artist, where and when, spending that same amount! We will even remember where the artist was from, what he/she looked liked and the conversation we had with them.

I appreciate your consideration, Louisiana is a great place with many long time friends and a daughter that has lived there for 7 years...it would be an honor to be a part of the arts/crafts scene within your neighborhood.