A few months ago we were visited in the studio by the wonderful and amazing Minnesota potter, Linda Christianson.

Linda Christianson threw on our treadle wheel. Photo: Julia Walther.

She taught at Carleton before Kelly Connole got there, and I think she was instrumental in persuading the school to let us build a wood kiln.  She got her undergrad at Hamline with Fred Hagstrom (what!) and she built her first wood kiln at 19.  Frequently I look at movie stars and musicians who are my age and I feel unaccomplished, but in a goofy and unrealistic sense.  Looking at Linda’s history in clay, I definitely feel a real sense that I need to get my butt in gear.

She gave us a really great slide show that was as much about her life and history as it was about her work.  It was so fun to see how she lives and how she has progressed as an artist, a potter, and as a person.  She showed us lots of images that inspire her, which included a drawing by her daughter (she said the loose style and freedom is something children have, but lose when they grow up).  She was so unpretentious and so genuinely sweet that our entire class had a really great time during her visit.

One thing (of many) that I took away from her visit is to always keep working.  Everyday she comes into her studio and throws four cups.  She starts every single day like that.  I like the idea of having a beautiful routine like that, that not only helps add to the quantity of work produced, but warms you up and gets you thinking about the forms you like and want to create on a daily basis.  Moreover, she throws on a treadle wheel, which is so wacky and interesting.  Because you can’t really get it going to normal wheel speed, it creates a natural and beautiful movement in pieces.  The way she works with clay is so unbelievable to see.  Her pieces have a natural feel because of the movement of the treadle wheel, and the fact that she wood fires all of her work adds to that.  I really love that she makes a lot of functional but sort of strange pieces, like oil cans for salad dressing and the like.  She makes casserole dishes, mugs, plates, and pitchers, but none of them are dull.  Every piece she touches has a warm quality that is almost magical.  We have done two wood firings this year at Carleton, and seeing that work and work from previous years I can see that it’s just not my thing.  But Linda Christianson’s work is different for me.  There is just a blush, a hint of wood firing that is so simple and alluring.  I really recommend checking out her work because it’s astounding and absolutely stellar.

For a tiny bit more information about Linda, including a few images of her work and contact information, visit www.minnesotapotters.com/individualpages/lindachristianson.html

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