Virginia Pates

Juried Artisan

Dirty Ceramics

Member of Trail Networks:

Professional Distinction: Commission/Custom Work, Consignment/Retail, Demonstrations, Exhibition, Instruction

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At its most consistent level, this ceramic work is about the relationship between material and movement.

These forms are loosely thrown and easily influenced by inclusions of dirt or debris, and designed to fulfill a scientific process of experimentation. My recent work consists completely of control forms of simple cylinders, distorted and warped by the variable materials.

I am currently working with found materials in the clay, such as cotton and horsehair from Mississippi, human hair from Arizona, black sand from Mexico, linen fiber and beach glass from Ireland, and micaceous red clay from Virginia.

I throw with loose, gestural moves, stretching and pushing the clay to the limits of its stability. The pieces are then cut from the wheel and dropped on open formers, allowing the clay to continue to move as it begins the drying process. I have developed this method of working to allow the materials within the clay body to shift and coagulate, refining the pot’s shape and center of gravity continually through the drying and firing processes.

The process of wheel-throwing, the creation of a pure cylinder, is a control allowing me to experiment with variations of material. The different materials displace the clay, creating unexpected shifts of balance and texture. Found materials (clays, fibers, rocks, dirt) both generate form for me and connect me to the cyclical nature of ceramics. Stone decays into clay, is formed and then fired, simulating the conditions of geologic metamorphosis through magma-like temperatures that vitrify the material back into stone.


Virginia Pates




335 Seven Ponds Road
Amissville, VA 20106

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