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Laura Nichols



Trained as an anthropologist, (Linguistics, AU ’88 PhD), I make homemade pots for everyday use. They are individually hand-painted with what I see: roosters, foxes, herons, pileated woodpeckers, dragonflies and owls, hens and chicks and guinea fowl. I strive for simplicity with each form and painting. Fired in a reduction kiln at 2300 degrees, my pots are intended for daily use. They are dishwasher, microwave, oven safe, and lead free. We talk about the ”slow food movement”, “slow fashion”, even “slow entertainment,” as if living with the natural progression of the growth of a plant, a handcrafted item, or an art is a new concept. A potter, the second oldest profession, has been practicing “slow” from the beginning. You cannot rush the clay, not on the wheel, not in the drying process, nor during the firing. To rush courts disaster, but it also might invite kismet. Likewise, you cannot “boss” the fire. You can place the pots in the kiln with special consideration, you can balance the fuel and oxygen according to any number of protocols, you can cool it quickly or slowly, and in the end the fire does what it will, and you enjoy the surprise!

During Studio Tour, you are invited to visit both Pig Pen Pottery and Milkhouse Studio. At Pig Pen Pottery, I will be working on the wheel intermittently as time allows. On Saturday I will do “alternative” firings starting about noon and lasting for a few hours. This includes raku, saggar, obvara, and naked raku. You will be able to see a pot go from bisque to finished in about 45 minutes. Also on Saturday afternoon, Great Falls Studios member Jody Grossman will be doing an Indigo dyeing. You are welcome to participate by either bringing your own piece to dye, or Jody will have linen bags for you to purchase and then dye yourself. On Sunday afternoon, I invite my visitors to try their hand at the wheel. Throughout the tour I invite you to look around the studio and ask about anything you see; tools, the way I have it organized, glazes, anything!

Since 1988, Pig Pen Pottery has occupied the basement of Orchard House, my grandparents’ house built in 1939. It has a rustic feel enhanced by a large fireplace. It is a peaceful place just to be. The studio is organized into several work zones: the throwing area (the messy part), the hand building area (dry), and the glaze room (relatively clean.) Aside from functional stoneware, I make lamps, masks, and sculpture and experiment with glass. There are four kilns. Two electric kilns for bisque firing inside and two gas kilns outside, one for reduction firing stoneware, and one raku kiln used for the alternative firings that will go off on Saturday of Studio Tour. The pottery is located on our family farm where we do not have pigs!  Hidden Springs Road is long and narrow. Please pull off into driveways along the way to let others pass. Beware the ditches are deep!

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