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What clay body do you use?
" Mid-range porcelain."

    Primary forming method?

    "I utilize a lot of molds in my work and mostly use a combination of slab-building and slip-casting to make my work."

    Primary firing temperature?

    "Mid-range, cone 6-7."

    Favorite surface treatment?

    "Currently utilizing gold luster to create geometric lines and connections between works."

    Favorite Tools?

    "I love tools and have a variety that are in my favorites.  If I was on a desert island and could take one tool with me though, I’m bringing my surform."

    Describe your studio environment.

    "I maintain a studio at the university where I work.  I like working in an energetic environment with the community of students in the studio.  In my studio I have finished works and works in progress around so I can continue to think through multiple ideas.  I also like to maintain an organized studio with open tables and shelf space which helps me feel ready to work."

    How/Where do you market and sell your artwork?

    " I’m fortunate to be employed as a professor, which frees me up to explore content and ideas in my work and be more experimental.  I do a lot of exhibitions and work with galleries mainly in that capacity. Although not a main focus with my work, I do find social media platforms helpful to continue to showcase my process, new works, and network with artists, patrons, supporters and galleries. "

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

    " Allowing myself uninterrupted time to think and experiment with works really opens new doors for me and helps solve problems in my work.  I also constantly am looking, researching, and exposing myself to new historical and contemporary work and investigating specific research topics of interest to continue to inspire new works and ideas.

    I was once told an artist should have more ideas than time.  I have so many projects and ideas that I’m excited to get to, so I’m always driven to keep working. "

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

      " I went to college for painting and put off taking a ceramics class until my Junior year because I didn’t want to get my clothes dirty.  Not sure why I thought that as I don’t’ think I have any clothes that aren’t clay contaminated now.  In that class it just clicked, I was drawn to the art history and lineage of ceramics, but more importantly the consistent challenge it presented.  Ever since that first class I have been working in clay."

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

        "I had a lot of supportive professors and artists help me along the way and still do.  Due to this I feel a responsibility to share what I have learned and have been taught.  Being a professor and working with students and being a small part of their individual journeys fulfills this."

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

          Some of the best indirect advice has come from my support system.  My wife supported me through graduate school and has been with me throughout this whole journey and continues to offer support and encouragement.  Secondly, witnessing my parents dedication and hard work has reinforced my studio practice and work ethic.

          Outside of that, I took a workshop with Karen Karnes and Mark Shapiro at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine during the summer, maybe May, when I was a student.  Mark Shapiro looked at my image portfolio and gave me some of the best advice that I still think about.  He said that I needed to, “Free myself up to make a lot of ugly work”.  This has really reinforced the need to take chances, continue to experiment, and perhaps more importantly continue to learn through failures. 

            While in graduate school I overheard my professor John Balistreri tell students to, “Stop sucking and start getting good”. Which we always laugh about, but is still pretty good advice.

            What advice do you have for upcoming ceramic artists?

            "There is no substitute for hard work and time.  So any aspiring artist I would say work hard, read, study, research, don’t be afraid to fail, ask questions, and work harder than those around you.  Persistence and patience will pay off."

            Website URL and other social media platforms:


              Instagram: @clayceramics


              Clay Leonard is a ceramics artist who received his Master of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University and his Bachelor of Fine from Adrian College in Michigan in 2006.  He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at the University of Houston – Clear Lake in Houston, Texas. 

              Clay has also been an Artist-in-Residence at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, the International Ceramic Research Center: Guldagergaard in Denmark, and C.R.E.T.A. Rome in Rome, Italy. 

              His current research focuses on the important ritual of sharing a meal, utilizing ceramic serving forms as a catalyst for interaction and communication.  His work has been featured in various international and national exhibitions and publications.  His work is included in various public collections including the International Museum of Dinnerware Design in Michigan, Guldagergaard: International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, and in the National Museum of Slovenia.


                PO Box 667401
                Houston, TX 77266

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