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The STORY: Frank Stofan took a pottery class in the Spring of 1981 while studying Art History at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Then I another class to satisfy his urge I can do better. After the fourth class he switched majors to ceramics.
He apprenticed for a time while in school and also after till 1986 when offered a position with a production pottery south of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Westerwald Pottery. Then in 1988 Frank took his wares to the Buyers Market of American Craft in Philadelphia and has since supplied galleries and specialty stores featuring handmade American crafts.
"I first learned about wood ashes being added to glazes while walking thru a museum after researching for an Art History paper. The library is attached to the Carnegie Museum in Oakland just outside Pittsburgh. I loved their art history section and my Mom‘s cooking, a great reason to go home for a weekend!"
"There was a traveling showcase of ancient Chinese pottery from the 3rd and 4th centuries BC. I went back to the library and that’s when I learned differing amounts of wood ash were added to specific glazes to aid in a number of effects. This is when I realized the interest in something far more than anything I had dabbled in before."
The WOOD ASHES: The unique gaze is called a wood ash glaze. A little more than 20% of the glaze batch is fine wood ashes collected from friends and neighbors wood stoves. The ashes are sifted through a 100 mesh screen and then combined with other materials. When melted at 2300 degrees the glaze forms a tree landscape!
Wood ashes were used in select glazes a few thousand years ago in Egyptian and Chinese glazing techniques. Mostly for more subtle fluid movements within the glaze so as a person would sit near a vase or hold a cup, they would notice a depth of character and warmth a distant observer wouldn’t notice. This is why an ancient display of Chinese pottery would have a few select pieces almost touching the glass inside the display so the observer could engage in the brilliance and subtle beauty of those long ago works of art
The CLAY: The clay I use is a fine white stoneware body kiln fired to 2300 degrees and does not leak water. The bottom of the pots are very smooth to the touch.
The SHAPES: As a glaze is being developed and kiln firings adjusted, the shapes of the pottery adapts to the glaze so to speak. Just as a clothing designer would select a model to showcase a design, so too a potter adjusts shapes and ideas to best fit the glaze. That said, there are other reasons some shapes are developed outside of that.
For instance, the Flask Vase (left most above) was deigned to contain a water reservoir for flowers that drink more than others.
The Traditional Vase (second from left above) has a rim we could find on some early American Pottery forms, a very comfortable traditional trim one could say.
The Delk Vase (second from right above) was first designed to mimic a turn-of-the-century Trumpet Vase but had been modified over the years for a more vertical straight sided vessel to showcase the glaze. The ash glaze looks great on this slim tall piece.
The Venetian Vase (right most above) developed while looking for a way to contrast two effects of ash glazing while complementing each other.
The names of the pieces came later with more trepidation than developing the piece.
As the saying goes: “There ‘s nothing new under the sun.“ I’ve taken from the natural instinct of what I like as I look at pottery past and do with it as I please. In the process, a craftsman makes some of the outcomes of those endeavors his own!
The Green and Blue colors are fired separately which can caused availability issues when purchasing a piece in both colors together.
Also, Stofan Pottery is a one man operation and at this time of year galleries are also buying their Holiday inventory, so there can be be some delays in shipping. Please be patient.
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