Sharon Neff has been a potter since before she had permission. As a child she played in the woods behind her house on the Mississippi River bluff. When discovered by her mother, she insisted she was not playing with fire, but explained that she was firing pottery made of clay she found. Her undergraduate and graduate professors at the University of Iowa tried to channel her interests. She still dug her clay and worked at perfecting replicas of ancient pottery fired in pit firings often fueled by manure. Sharon has now left mining to the miners and the manure at the barn. She uses her constant and intimate observations of nature as the subject for her works in stoneware and porcelain.
I work with several stoneware and porcelain clays ranging from warm brown to bright white. I throw most shapes from a lump of clay on my potters wheel. I hand roll and cut all of my tiles. I fold, tear, overlay, model, stamp, inscribe, and impress on each piece while the clay is still damp. When fully dry I bisque fire everything to 1300 F. I then pour, dip, and paint the glaze designs. The completed pieces are re-fired to 2307 F. Some of the glazes melt to glossy black, brown, green, and amber, others stay dry and velvety on the exposed surface of the clay. - Sharon Neff -
University of Iowa. School of Art and Art History
Digital collection © The University of Iowa. All works are copyright the individual artist.