Debra Nelson

To me clay is like a blank canvas is to a painter. There is a form in there waiting to get out. Between the two of us, the clay and me, we come to an agreement as to what that shape might be. Sometimes, unbeknownst to me, it subtly presents its own ideas resulting in a truly collaborative relationship. This is mostly evident when exploring new shapes. The first attempts can be clumsy until the hands and the clay come to an understanding of this new form. And if this isn’t a challenge enough, there is always the struggle between the glaze and the fire. It sometimes reminds me of a parent sending a child out into the world, you’ve taught everything you could, now it is up to them to sink or swim. The kiln is like the world, you’ve formed the clay, calculated and applied the glazes, now it is up to the fire to determine the final look of the pot. Opening the kiln is always opportunity for learning, for what worked and what needs to be re-evaluated. It is this moment that keeps me going back to the wet clay to repeat the process all over again as there are always more possibilities and more to learn.

My involvement with clay started in high school and continued at Portland State where I attended as a ceramics major. I continue to work as a studio potter living in the Scholls area. I show my work at various shows and galleries in Oregon and teach out of my studio and at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.