Eileen McClellan

What clay body do you use?
" I have always been partial to earthenware with grog.  I use Longhorn Red - I enjoy the color both before and after firing.  Also, I have used Dixon.  The texture of that clay is amazing."


    Primary forming method?

    "I have been using the coil method of building heads ever since I learned it from Debra Fritts in a workshop at the Ceramic Store a few years ago.  That was an eye opener for me.  Before that I had used either a solid piece that I sliced open or used newspaper inside.  Either way, there seemed to be such a waste of clay and time.  My subject matter is mostly the human head and figure.  I have also enjoyed working abstractly with form and texture at times."


    Primary firing temperature?

    "Cone 05 and 06."


    Favorite surface treatment?

    "I have been very happy with cold applications such as wax and acrylic washes.  I have been surprised that watercolor brings out the grog and create an interesting texture.  I do use underglazes and engobes.  I’m not a fan of shiny glazes unless they are used on portions of the piece for emphasis."









    Favorite Tools?

    "I inherited some tools from a friend’s mother many years ago.  I have never been able to find any that have been smoother than the wood on these tools. I have a peach pit that has been my “go to” texture tool for years! And I have been known to just browse around the Ceramic Store whenever I need inspiration. I usually come home with a new toy. I am fortunate to live very close to the store!"

    Describe your studio environment.

    "My studio is an apartment on the second floor of my house.  Our house used to be a quad and I took over one apartment about 10 years ago. It has an outside entrance and feels very separate from the main house.  Before that, I had to find whatever flat surface I could.  Now I have three rooms and one is designated for just clay work.  I purchased a kiln two years ago and I feel very spoiled that I can just fire it up whenever I want."













    How/Where do you market and sell your artwork?

    "Since I joined Clay Houston, I have participated in one of the Pop Up Marketplace events.  That was the first time since I graduated from college that I had actually set up my work to sell.  It was fun!  I have also been part of both open studio crawls and, once again, that experience was a first for me as well.  I have also sold my work in exhibitions."





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

    "Who doesn’t LOVE clay??  I still have the ash tray that I made in seventh grade. (We all made ash trays in those days!)  Bless my mother for keeping it all those years!  Clay directs me.  I don’t have a pre-conceived idea when I begin, especially with a head.  The face develops as I go and suddenly there is a person staring back at me!"

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

      "My career was spent teaching art.  I started in 1970 teaching high school for three years and then, after a hiatus, I started back teaching once again in 1982.  I spent the next 30 years teaching middle school art and loved every minute of it!  Clay was integral to the curriculum and, of course, the students loved it.  I made sure that any student who stayed with me for three years had experiences with all hand building methods.  I was fortunate to work in schools that had kilns and money enough so that we could make substantial pieces of work.  We worked on pots, heads and a variety of sculptural approaches.  We didn’t have the time or the facilities to do wheel work. 

      A few years before retiring, I started to take workshops to expand my knowledge of new materials.  I had a few helpful friends who kindly and generously fired my pieces for me.  But, I tired of what that entailed and stopped working in clay for a number of years."



      How have you have taken your experience as a well-established maker in the field and passed that knowledge along to other artists?
        "Outside of the middle school classroom, I have to say that I don’t feel that I have anything unique that can be passed along. I am just still learning so much myself. "



        What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow maker, mentor, or teacher?

          A number of my friends in the clay community have expressed to me the importance of experimentation.



          Bio: 

          I grew up in Maryland. I received my BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA in 1970. I taught art for 33 years.  I live and work in the Heights and am now enjoying my retirement and devoting my time to my personal art.  My major mediums are sculpture and printmaking.  


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