Tom Perry
What clay body do you use?

    “Primarily B-Mix 10, also Coleman Porcelain and occasionally B-Mix 5, plus all of these colored with oxides and stains”.

     

    Primary forming method?

    “Wheel, Slab”.


    Primary firing temperature?

    “Cone 9+ Electric, occasionally Cone 6, bisque Cone 08”.


    Favorite surface treatment?

    “Sprigging, Layered and Overlapping Glazes, Carving, Colored Clay”.





    Favorite Tools?

    “The potter’s wheel -- it’s what lured me into pottery. But there are several small wooden tools I use for joining and shaping that I cherish, a fabric tape measure that helps me measure along and around curved surfaces, and the oak paddle I made myself at Archie Bray. Sometimes I think of clay as the favorite tool working on me.”       



    Describe your studio environment.

    “My studio is in our unheated, uncooled garage. I have what I call an“open door policy” -- I usually work with the door open. I’ve gerrymandered space among the lawnmower, shovels, fertilizer, jars of nails, tools, and sundry items usually stored in a garage to fit in a worktable, electric kiln, slabroller, shelves, and many buckets of glaze materials, mixed glazes, and recovering clays. The arrangement is such that when I glaze or fire the kiln, I can’t make new work. My worktable surface is medium-density plywood. There are times I wish I had room for a small clay mixer or pug mill. But before that, I’d probably choose to install an A/C and heating unit.”.



    How/Where do you market & sell your artwork?

    “Marketing: E-Mail, Personal Contacts, Business Cards, Web Site.”
    "Selling: Copper Shade Tree Gallery (Round Top), Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, The Path of Tea, Heights Holiday Artisan Market".





    What sparks your creativity? What drives you to work with clay?

    "I believe creativity ranges between the revolutionary and the evolutionary. I tend to be more evolutionary, i.e. it helps to have a starting place from which problem-solving and ideas flow. My starting place is the vessel, rooted in function and ritual, container of the tangible and the spiritual, shaped by so many cultures’ ceramics traditions and histories. My ideas for form, design, decoration flow and evolve through working and through stimulation from Nature and cultural symbols".

    "Occasionally there is a spark that causes me to lean toward the revolutionary side of the creativity spectrum. For example, viewing Japanese bronze ritual objects alongside ancient Jomon pots spawned a series of sculptural vessels, which then led me to apply techniques from these to some of my functional work".

    "Also, my wife, Carolyn Dahl, is an artist and poet, a constant source of stimulation and insight".


    Did you come to pottery from a different career? Tell us about your journey to a ceramics career.

      "I have a PhD degree in chemical engineering and was an engineering and technology manager with Shell for 31 years. I was first attracted to clay by beholding and holding handmade ceramics in the San Francisco Bay Area. Carolyn studied pottery; I bought her a kick wheel and assembled it for her and was attracted to the “magic” that centrifugal force and skill produced. Soon after moving to Houston, she opted for a year studying art in Florence, Italy. I enrolled in a ceramics class at the Museum School (now Glassell) and learned to use that kick wheel. When she returned, she chose to pursue other art avenues, and turned the wheel and clay over to me".

      "I easily picked up glaze calculations, and measuring and mixing glazes reminded me of sophomore chemistry lab. In the early 1970s, I wrote a computer program (a full box of punched cards!) that developed unity formulas for glazes and sorted them by Si/Al ratio. What I value with pottery though are not the technical aspects but working with my hands, pushing my intuition and creativity in new ways, the “touchiness” of clay, the physicality of the process, and the effects that clay, glaze, and the physico-chemical reactions of heat/fire help me realize".






      How have you have taken your experience as a well-established maker in the field and passed that knowledge along to other artists?

        "I’m grateful to have been invited to conduct a few workshops for students in the area to share my colored clay techniques. I wrote a how-to article for Pottery Making Illustrated, participated in the initial mentoring program at HCCC during my residency, and have performed wheel-throwing demonstrations at events".

        "On a broader scale, I feel I’ve contributed to the Houston clay and craft community -- first as a co-founder and chair/co-chair of Empty Bowls Houston; second, as co-founder of ClayHouston plus serving several positions on the Board; and third as Docent and Board member at HCCC. The involvement with the Craft Center not only put me face-to-face with students and adults, it challenged me to learn more about all crafts and how to articulate insights, knowledge, and passion for the handmade".




        What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow maker, mentor, or teacher?
          "Carolyn has been an actor/performer, artist, and poet, well- versed and experienced in the tension- and rejection-filled world of the arts. As I approach edges of my skill and knowledge, she has more than once urged me: “Yes, Go For It, Just Try It.” Occasionally I can now even tell myself the same thing". 


          Website URL and other social media platforms:

            Website: thomasperrypottery.com


              artist statement: 

              Thomas Perry’s stoneware and porcelain vessels have been shown in various invitational and juried exhibitions, including the Amarillo Museum of Art (first prize), Las Cruces Museum (museum purchase award), Houston Airport Collection, UDallas Regional, Kent State Cup Show, Hill Country Arts Foundation, TCAA Attachments 15 NCECA Invitational, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC), Holocaust Museum Houston, and several galleries in Houston. Thomas was an artist-in-residence at HCCC, has published articles in Studio Potter and Pottery Making Illustrated, and conducted workshops based on his colored clay techniques. Thomas is co-founder and former chair/co-chair of Empty Bowls Houston, co-founder and holder of several Board positions in ClayHouston, and former Board member/officer and Docent at HCCC. He was recently selected for a 2018 month-long residency at Bandelier National Monument, NM.



              Contact ClayHouston at info@ClayHouston.org

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