Lorna is a Colorado-based artist who produces soda fired porcelain ware. Her work is intimate, nuanced and subtle. Work to be held in one’s hand and slowly spun around to fully appreciate the gradation of color, the detailed markings, the exquisite texture of object.
Lorna’s stated goal is to integrate the form and surface of her pots, starting with 3D forms that divide space, then drawing on the surface of those 3D forms, and finishing by adding color. “I am drawn to work that is rich in ornamentation, with lavish use of materials – both scarce in a culture of mass production,” she notes on her website.
JW: You work primarily with soda fired porcelain. What attracted you to porcelain and that firing process?
LM: I first started using porcelain, and did my first soda firing in a workshop that Peter Beasecker taught at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in the late 90’s. I was attracted to porcelain for its ease in altering wheel thrown work, and the brightness of the glazes on the clay body. I use soda firing for the directional nature of the firing process. In other words, one side of the pot looks different than the other. The drawing on the surface of my work is often symmetrical, graphic, and very controlled. The soda process is a point of contrast to the predictability of the other processes in my work.
JW: What attracted you to ceramics in the first place?
LM: I started making pots in High School. It’s a little hard to remember what exactly drew me in initially, but I can say that it was the wheel. I think it was just really different than anything else I had done and I was pretty good at it. I loved it right away.
JW: I believe you’ve travelled a lot. Do your travel experiences influence your creative work?
LM: Yes, I like to travel and I am fortunate to have taken quite a few trips. I don’t know how much travel affects my work directly, but I’m sure it has a way of sneaking in some influences into what I am making. I particularly think that is true about my trip to Italy a few years ago. I loved looking at the architecture and the rich colors there.
JW: How has your work changed over the years?
LM: My work has changed very slowly over the years. I’ve been a potter for 33 years now. Initially, my work was very simple – round and dipped in one glaze. Graduate school changed my work, making it more ornamental and decorative. My punch bowls would be the best example of that.
I started spending a lot more time on each piece. In the 15 years since then, I’ve returned to making work that is a little simpler, meant for everyday use. Part of the return to utility was due to the need to make a living. Nowadays I find myself wanting to revisit ideas from the past. I’m currently working toward a solo show in June at Studio & Gallery titled “Tools of Habitation” that will include both some elaborate and decorative work.
JW: You bought into Studio & in early 2020. Apart from changes brought on by Covid, how has that gallery ownership affected you? Have you had more or less time to work on your pottery?
LM: Buying into Studio & Gallery has been great for me. There are 5 of use who own the gallery cooperatively so I only work 1-2 days a week, leaving plenty of time in my studio. I taught adjunct for years, so this has kind of replaced the time I used to spend doing that.
I’m enjoying the connection to other artists and the Durango community that has come from being more involved at the gallery. I expect that will continue to increase as we slowly climb out of this pandemic.
JW: When you first set up your pottery business, your goal was to sell 50% of your work via galleries and the other 50% directly (direct studio sales and sales via your website). Have things worked out that way?
LM: On the topic of selling through galleries, or online, it is continually changing. I still sell through galleries, but I have been moving toward selling more of my own work both online and at Studio &. I just simply have to, in order to make a decent living. I have leaned into online sales during this past year with the pandemic and it has gone quite well. My large Instagram following is a good audience for online sales. I think the new normal after this pandemic is going to give way to a renewed celebration of the brick and mortar. After all, pots are meant to be held…
JW: It looks like you’re doing a fair number of online workshops. As an instructor, do you have any suggestions or recommendations for students to get the most out of online instruction?
LM: I have also been doing a lot of online workshops in this past year. It has gone great. It, of course, has it’s pros and cons. As far as getting the most out of it, I would say, like any workshop, the most important thing you take with you is your ideas. I’ve really enjoyed doing the research for the Powerpoint presentations that I include with my Zoom workshops. I’ve been inspired by both the historical and contemporary work that I’ve found. I hope my workshop participants feel inspired as well!