Working with clay is very ‘process oriented’ – this is the attraction. I work primarily from wheel-thrown components. I am only half teasing when I say that the clay keeps a person ‘centered’. Beyond the throwing – mesmerizing & meditative as that can be – there is the quality of mark making and creation of form. Working with clay for over 30 years, I have a decided interest in the quest for problem solving when making more complex forms or pieces. What fun to test one’s skills against this ornery & willful material.
Originally from New Mexico, art has always been a part of Sue’s life. After moving to South Carolina in 1984, she set up a studio near Columbia and worked as a production potter. In 2004, Sue attained an MFA from Clemson University and taught ceramics there part-time for the next 6 years. She is a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Currently, Sue lives near Asheville, North Carolina – a beautiful place for visual stimulation and creativity! Not quite a production potter any longer, she works full-time in the studio – creating one-of-a-kind pieces, teapots and limited series. Sue has been studying Ikebana since 2010 and has attained an Associate Master level in the Ichiyo School. Sue says “Working with flower arrangements has been very informative in creating containers for Ikebana use”.
About Sue Grier
When did you first start making your craft?
In 1984, Sue set up a studio near Columbia, SC and worked as a production potter. In 2004, she attained an MFA from Clemson University and taught ceramics there part-time for the next 6 years. Sue has been a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild since 2011. Currently, Sue lives near Asheville, North Carolina – a beautiful place for visual stimulation and creativity! Not quite a production potter any longer, she works full-time in the studio – alongside her well known ceramic ‘buckets’, she enjoys creating one-of-a-kind pieces, teapots and limited series. She has been studying Ikebana (the art of Japanese floral arranging) since 2010 and has attained the Master’s Level in the Ichiyo School of Ikebana. Sue says “Working with flower arrangements has been very informative in creating containers and vases for Ikebana use” and she often will have flower arrangements in her studio.
What do you draw inspiration from?
In 1984, Sue put down her paintbrushes and picked up soft, throw-able balls of clay. There was no turning back. Working with clay is very ‘process oriented’ – this is the attraction. She works primarily from wheel-thrown components. Beyond the throwing – mesmerizing & meditative as that can be – there is the quality of mark making and creation of form. Working with clay for over 35 years, Sue finds there is a decided interest in the quest for problem solving when making more complex forms or pieces. What fun to test one’s skills against this ornery & willful material? Beyond the creating of interesting clay pieces – actually tied to the process from the start – is the challenge of glazing and firing the work to best advantage. Sue has enjoyed working in a variety of firing types – oxidation, reduction, soda and wood fired - each of these offer unique surfaces for the ceramic artists’ use.
How do you incorporate flowers into your work?
About 10 years ago, Sue attended an Ikebana International Chapter meeting at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC. She very quickly decided to begin Ichiyo lessons with Patti Quinn Hill (BTW a talented basket maker in the SHCG). Her assumption that making ceramic containers and vases for ikebana was ‘simple’ has been gradually dispelled as she came to understand the nuances of what an ikebana container could embrace. And so the journey began - that of understanding the relationships between the floral and stem materials combined with the different types of ceramic containers and vases used to complete interesting arrangements with the right spirit of Ikebana. It was fun to learn the role of the container or vase – that of coordinating and harmonizing many different kinds of flowers and materials. At the same time, the container or vase brings a unique accent to the ikebana arrangement through color, shape and volume. Sue knew that knowledge would be exciting to use in her own work. In this series of carved vases seen in the SHCG Online Spotlight Exhibition, Sue has enjoyed using glaze color choices and the varied depths of a carved surface in each vase to create unique starting points waiting for the floral materials to complete every arrangement.
When did you join the Guild and why?
Sue juried into the Southern Highland Craft Guild in early 2011. She had been aware of the prestige and quality of the membership of SHCG for many years, but until moving to Buncombe County full time in North Carolina, she was unable to join. Her main reasons for joining the Guild were to find an active and professional community of makers along with marketing possibilities in the well-known Guild shops.
What is your favorite part of being a Guild Member? What is your participation in the Guild?
Sue will tell you that her favorite part of being a Guild Member is definitely taking part in committee & organizational aspects of the Guild. That is where friendships have been made – both with Guild members and Guild staff. She is serving her 6th & final year on the Board of Trustees and is currently Board President. Other ways of participation have included doing demonstrations at several of the Guild Shops, once being a demonstrator at the July Guild Fair and marketing her work through the Guild’s shops plus the Online Shop. Sue also takes advantage of participation in Gallery Exhibition opportunities upstairs at the Folk Art Center to exhibit one-of-a-kind works.
Do you teach workshops?
Sue occasionally teaches workshops – usually they are of wheel thrown and altered ceramic techniques. If all goes well in this unusual year, she will be teaching at the John C Campbell Folk School in late August 2020. She has also demonstrated Ikebana for interested groups. See Sue’s web site at www.suegrierpottery.com