#madewithabailey Interview with Steven Showalter
We caught up with Minnesota potter, Steven Showalter after he used the tag #madewithabailey on Instagram in this interview. We love Steven's rich, eye-catching pottery. Read on to learn about what inspires him to work in clay.
1. How did you get started working in clay?
I didn't start working with clay until college, because the rest of my youth was spent exploring so many other art mediums. I went to college to teach art and have been a high school art teacher for the past 17 years. When I applied for the job, they were looking for someone to start a pottery program, and when I got the position at 22, I jumped right in! My first year I had 20 students enrolled, and now I teach about 500 students a year. My excitement about teaching led to my excitement about making work on my own, and about a decade ago I built a home studio and have been making pots professionally ever since.
2. What Bailey products do you use to make your work and how do they help?
I use the MSV-25T deairing/mixing pugmill. I feel like this is an often underestimated piece of equipment for a studio. The pugmill does such an excellent job of reclaiming clay that I also often use it to prepare my clay that is fresh from a bag. I've used many pugmills and this Bailey pugmill is extremely easy to use and creates exceptional clay and eliminates the need for me to wedge clay. I make a few thousand pots a year and also teach pottery full-time at a high school where we also have a Bailey pugmill, and it's also a good way to reduce stress on my body as much as I possibly can.
3. What’s a tool that you could you not live without?
I'd say my favorite tools are my Sherrill Ribs in a variety of hardnesses. I love using the blue ribs to compress my clay and then use yellow and red ribs to shape my forms and comb slip for decoration.
4. What inspires you?
My early childhood was spent on a farm in rural Minnesota, which had a large impact on my life. I've always loved nature. I've also always been a craftsperson with interest in wood-working and home building, so there is a part of me that really likes precision. I try the best I can to balance inspiration from nature with my tendencies toward the precision. In the end, I find that my greatest success happens when I don't try to fight what comes naturally.
5. When you’re not creating ceramics, where might we find you?
My wife and I have a 2 1/2-year-old and a 6-month-old, so if I'm not making pots I'm likely spending time with my family.
6. What are you excited to try next in the studio?
What is amazing about clay is that the possibilities are endless. Each year I try to add new items and explore new forms and ideas. I think my next push is some new slip designs I have been working on but have yet to release. It is very easy to get caught up making items to sell, but the exploration of new ideas is the driving force behind my desire to continue to create.