Used with the permission of
Don Allison, Bryan Times Senior Editor
Pottery is local artist’s passion
Ann E. Vreeland creates decorative pieces in her
Learning to paint was Ann E. Vreeland’s goal 15 years ago, when she returned to school to study art. In the process, she fell in love with pottery — and that’s been her passion ever since.
rural Bryan studio
That passion led her to open her own pottery studio, Sisters, on Ohio 34 west of Ohio 576. “I make pots from scratch,” Vreeland told the Bryan Kiwanis Club, speaking at the group’s Wednesday noon meeting.
Vreeland creates decorative pottery, and she explained that she draws her inspiration from “everywhere.”
“You can get it from nature — just going for a walk in the woods can give you ideas,” she said. The shape of a leaf, or the texture of fungus on a tree can provide inspiration, she explained.
Although some artists will obtain blank pots and paint and decorate them, Vreeland purchases clay in bulk — prepared from recipes she provides the clay supplier. “I work mainly with three types of clay,” she explained. One type is porcelain, a smooth clay “which fires to really bright colors,” she explained. Another type is stoneware, a strong clay with previously fired clay in the mix. This strength makes stoneware suitable for larger items, she said. The third type is sculpture clay. “With that, you can build houses,” she said — provided you have a kiln big enough to fire it.
Although many artists specialize in one type of pottery, Vreeland said, “I like making all kinds of different things.” She said she uses different clays and different glazes to create various effects. She showed the Kiwanians a raw, circular blank pot she had created that morning, and also showed a dried “leather hard” piece that was ready for firing. The “leather hard” tray she displayed was broken, and she noted pieces at this stage are very fragile, made basically of dried mud.
When fired to 1,800 degrees in a kiln, Vreeland said, “a chemical change occurs in it, and it turns into bisque — it will never go back to mud. “That’s why we know so much about the ancient cultures, Vreeland continued, explaining that their pottery reached this stage.
Once a piece is bisque fired, glaze is applied and the piece is fired again. The resulting appearance depends on the chemicals in the glaze, she said. With glaze, she continued, “the clay is absolutely sealed, and water can’t get through it.”
In terms of pottery creations, Vreeland said, “the sky is the limit. “There are infinite ways you can handle all the things you want to do with a pot,” she continued. Pieces thrown in a wheel are round, she said, but their shape can be modified, they can be cut, and pieces such as handles and decorations can be added. And hand-built pieces can be created in just about any shape.
Much of the time involved in creating a piece is due to drying requirements. Shrinkage of the clay creates stress, particularly at points where parts are joined, she said.
Vreeland said she sells some of her pieces locally, but does not have a display area in her studio. She said she displays her work in a local “trunk show” in conjunction with other area artists, and also does juried shows and art fairs, including events in South Carolina and Michigan. She has applied for two Chicago summer shows, she said.
Vreeland said she makes about 400 pots a year. In her career, she said, “I think I’m probably up in the 6,000 range.” At the current time, she said, “I’m almost totally sold out. I only make so many pots a year.” Vreeland’s program was arranged by Kiwanian Phil McCartney.
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