Meet the Makers: Judi Harwood

Meet Judi Harwood

Resident Potter at the Village Potters in Asheville

From her work filling the Village Potters Gallery, you’d never know that Judi Harwood’s love for pottery developed later in life. After moving to Asheville, she took her first clay class in 1999,

and they say the rest is history. Today, Judi shares her passion for ceramics through classes and demonstrations at the Village Potters, where she turns clay into art and people into potters.

How did you begin your journey as a clay artist?

Unlike many ceramic artists, I can’t say, “I’ve wanted to make pots on the wheel since I was a child.”

Rather, I randomly took a pottery class with a friend to do something fun together before she moved away. The first time my hands touched wet clay on the wheel, I was hooked. I quickly purchased a used wheel which found a home in the back corner of my garage (my first studio).

What’s your favorite demonstration to perform at the Village Potters?

I absolutely love demonstrating the firing processes of raku and horse hair raku. Raku pieces are placed in combustible materials, and onlookers love the drama of the open flame! The magical sight and aroma of horsehair burning up and leaving a carbon print on the pottery sparks all kinds of questions and comments from those watching. The fun is contagious!

What is the most experimental way you’ve fired your creations?

A few years ago when teaching an Alternative Firings class, my students and I tried to answer the question, “What would happen if we … ?” We wedged mica powder into our clay, and put cornshucks cat food, and coffee in our saggars. Perhaps the most experimental was mica powder (last minute) dumped into the Obvara brew. Some results didn’t make any difference, while others were magical!

Do you always know what you’re going to create when you begin molding the clay?

Most of the time, I know exactly what I am going to create when I sit down at the wheel since clay is weighed and wedged for a certain size and form. I’m typically working on a commission, wholesale order, or something for Village Potters gallery. Occasionally, however, I take the liberty to “just throw and see what happens.” That’s when a new form gets added to my line of work.

What advice would you give a beginner clay artist?

To the beginner clay artist, I would say this: “We all start at the beginning. Don’t be discouraged.”

A great place to start is with a pottery class at The Village Potters Clay Center in Asheville.

I love making pottery … but I really love making potters!

Take a class with Judi at The Village Potters Clay Center or view all of her workshops and demonstrations on her website