The Heart of the Potter

Carolyn Detjen

It takes more than perfect clay and an expensive kiln to make pottery “sing”. From the heart springs emotion and beauty, design and rhythm. When applied to clay, we see the practical and the art, create pottery that we lovingly use every day. Not only are our meals comfortable but we derive joy and satisfaction from color and design as we feel the love of the potter that saturates her work.

As I interviewed our potter, Charlotte McGovern, she exposed her heart and the abilities that we enjoy as we observe the beauty of the colors and curves and feel the surfaces that she creates while sitting at the wheel, spinning fast or slow, sometimes lifting a vase high or spreading out a bowl that she will draw flowers on when it is leather hard.

“I always wanted to learn to throw. It was one of the features that drew us to move to the Ranch. I find it is very addicting to me. It is calming and helps me to de-stress.

Advice I would give to someone just beginning to learn pottery is don’t give up! Don’t be intimidated by other advanced potters. We all have to practice and learn. Also, just because you may not be good at throwing on the wheel, it does not mean that you can’t make beautiful pieces through hand-building or sculptures.

I want my pieces to jump out at an individual and say ‘I am yours!’ I want the piece to be something that brings joy to the owner!”

Question: Do you have an artistic bone in your body?

Yes, I do. At one time I had my own designer company. But I want everyone to know that you can be a potter and don’t have to be artistic. It is a hobby that someone can indulge in and just have fun. A lot of potters love to come on our Potter Days just to visit with all the potters and be creative. I think “artistic” and “creative” have totally different meanings.

Question: Is a strong mentor necessary?

Yes, I think it is. I have always had someone in our club that has taken an interest in me, especially when I started throwing. It is good for someone to give kudos or good critical advice.

Quote from Jan Marx, “I would love to make a bowl and have someone mistakenly think Charlotte had made it. I would be ecstatic! That has always been a dream of mine”.

Question: Why is pottery a good fit for you?

I am retired and so this gives me something that I look forward to and continue to strive to get better. I think retired people need a purpose to get out of bed in the morning, something they really enjoy. It is a great stress reliever for me.