12th Biennial Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference


October 5-8, 2017 (Columbus Day Weekend)

Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center
600 4-H Center Drive
Front Royal, VA 22630

About the Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference:

The Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference is held every other year in the beautiful landscape setting of Front-Royal, Virginia. Ceramic artists of all skill levels will benefit from our four day conference! On Saturday and Sunday, three nationally-known potters will present demonstration workshops featuring their unique techniques for constructing, decorating, glazing and firing their work. On Friday, multiple regional ceramists will lead a variety of exciting hands-on and demonstration workshops. There are also great opportunities to socialize, make new acquaintances, and renew past friendships! Participants come away with new ideas and inspiration from this stimulating learning experience!


About Our Main Presenters

James Watkins-

Artist Statement
My ceramic work is an artifact of my reality, made up of historical references, cultural melodies and an aesthetic vocabulary. It is a realization of a multitude of memories.     I am trying to make vessels of clay that appeal to all my senses: hearing, taste, sight, smell and touch.  Each piece is comprised of preserved memories from both a personal history and a borrowed history.  
I am influenced by many cultures and people, by my experiences in faraway places, by acute observation of nature and, in some way, by every object that I have ever seen.  I approach my work from the point of view that I contain multitudes of memories which provide me with the impetus to pull from all sources.  The collective history of human beings is at my disposal.  
My work is influenced by layers of remembered images.  These images come from memories of my mother and grandmother making soap and washing clothes in black cast-iron caldrons and memories of scaling the scorched canyon walls of Rattlesnake Canyon in the Pecos wilderness to see ancient pictographs.  The long-ago memory of holding a twelfth-century Song dynasty tea bowl in my hands in the basement of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, led me many years later to firing a five-hundred-year old wood kiln in Jingdezhen, China. There are memories of reading about the Senoi people of Malaysia who trained themselves to become conscious while dreaming in order to bring back images and information to the wakened state. The memory lingers in my mind of the ineffable beauty of the sun setting behind the great Shinto Torii on the island of Miyajima, Japan.  I also keep in mind the internal visions of the high and low intervals in the one, two, three, four rhythm time of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”.  My strongest memory is or my daughter’s response at age five to a platter that I pulled from the kiln, “um, yummy, Dad.”
I am using the caldron forms as a metaphor to connect with my rich heritage. My double-walled caldrons are an attempt to materialize or conjure up ancestral memories. Many times I use materials that I gather from canyons and deserts to color the landscapes of my pots, or collect dust after dust storms to make glazes.  In my current work, I am actively participating in the rite of remembering, and using this rite as a creative mechanism.  The forms challenge me to explore the perfect balance and depth of visual texture that I remember from the Song tea bowl.  As I mentally listen to Coltrane’s energized rhythms, the studio becomes a place of improvisation.  All of my memories become players – composing vivid internal images of form, line and movement.

Artist Bio
James C. Watkins is a ceramic artist who has been working professional with clay for over 30 years.  His work is included in the White House Collection of American Crafts, and the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Shigaraki, Japan.  Mr. Watkins is a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor.  The Horn Professorship is the highest honor that Texas Tech University may bestow on members of its faculty. Horn Professorships are granted to professors in recognition of national and international distinction for outstanding research or other creative scholarly achievements. Mr. Watkins teaches Architectural Ceramics and Architectural Drawing in the College of Architecture. He is also a recipient of the Texas Tech University President’s Excellence in Teaching Award.  He is a 2005 Fulbright Scholar, Teaching in Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture.  He is the co-author of two books, “Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques” published by Lark Books and “Architectural Delineation, Presentation Techniques and Projects” published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.  His work is also the subject of a book entitled “A Meditation of Fire the Art of James C. Watkins” by Kippra D. Hopper published by Texas Tech University Press. He received his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, and his M.F.A. from Indiana University.  


Adrian Arleo-

Artist Statement
For thirty years, my sculpture has combined human, animal, and natural imagery to create a kind of emotional and poetic power. Often there's a suggestion of a vital interconnection between the human and non-human realms; the imagery arises from associations, concerns and obsession that are at once intimate and universal. The work frequently references mythology and archetypes in addressing our vulnerability in a changing personal, environmental and political world.

Artist Bio
Adrian Arleo is a studio artist living in Lolo, Montana. She studied Art and Anthropology at Pitzer College (B.A. in 1983) and received an MFA in ceramics from Rhode Island School of Design in 1986. Her work is exhibited internationally, and is in numerous public and private collections, including The World Ceramic Exposition Foundation, Icheon, Korea, Racine Art Museum, Racine WI , The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA, and The Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT.  Adrian received awards from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation  in 1991 and '92, and a Montana Arts Council Individual Fellowship in 1995. Along with making her own work, Adrian is a frequent workshop leader and has been a guest juror for numerous national exhibitions.
Her work is currently represented by Abmeyer and Wood in Seattle, WA.


Martha Grover-

Artist Statement
I seek to enhance the experience of interacting with functional objects. I work toward creating a sense of elegance for the user while in contact with each porcelain piece. Reminiscent of orchids, flowing dresses, and the body, the work has a sense of familiarity and preciousness.
Direct curves are taken from the female figure, as well as the fluidity of a dancer moving weightlessly across the floor. The space between elements is electrified with anticipation and tension. I think of the fluid visual movement around a piece, as a choreographer would move dancers across a stage. Transmitting desire - there is a sense of revealing and concealing, a layering of details that serves to catch our attention immediately and then the details draw us in, to make a closer inspection.
In our lives, we often move past the objects surrounding us at a very quick pace. My work generates a moment to pause. My goal is create an undeniable presence, one that acts as an invitation to explore the work thoroughly, taking time to know all of its many facets. Only through sustained interaction we can truly know and appreciate someone or something.

Artist Bio
Martha Grover is a functional potter, creating thrown and altered porcelain pieces. She attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she received her undergraduate degree in Architecture. After going to Syracuse University in New York as a fifth year student in Ceramics, she decided to pursue a graduate degree in clay. In 2007, Martha received her MFA in ceramics from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Since then she was awarded the Fogelberg Fellowship for a residency at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Sage Scholarship for a summer residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. Martha completed a year long residency at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Montana in August 2009. She received the Taunt Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation in 2010. Her work can be found at the Red Lodge Clay Center, the Archie Bray Foundation, the Clay Studio of Missoula, Schaller Gallery, 18 Hands Gallery, Crimson Laurel Gallery, Charlie Cummings Gallery, and Cedar Creek Gallery. Her work has been published in Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Making Illustrated, Clay Times, 500 Pitchers, 500 Platters and Chargers, and 500 Vases. Martha's work was featured on the cover of Ceramic Monthly’s May 2010 issue.

Register Now!


Friday Workshops|  Open to All Skill Levels

NEW! PRE-register and Pre-pay for Eight Limited-enrollment Hands-on Workshops!  Register today online or by mail for the limited-enrollment hands-on workshops that you want to attend. Choose the session(s) you want and indicate the times (AM, PM, or evening). Spaces are limited but observing is allowed except for all Raku and Primitive Firing sessions due to safety reasons. Mark your selections on the registration form or submit them with your online registration.


Limited-enrollment Hands-on Workshops:

Slab-Built Boxes: Michael Hough (Hands-on)

This will be a 2 1/2 hour, project-intense workshop using leather-hard slabs, textured surfaces, and decorative elements to create a one-of-a-kind lidded cubist box form. Limit 12 participants, others may observe. AM Session.

Michael Hough – Bio

Michael has a BA, MA, MFA in Ceramic Sculpture and is Associate Professor of Art at Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA. “I have been an artist, creating ceramic, (and more recently) steel sculpture, and pottery for the past twenty-eight years. My love of all things clay began during my second year as an art student at California State University, Sacramento where I eventually earned a BA and MA in Ceramics. Prior to that, I studied film making and worked as a graphic designer for several local California firms. After several years of teaching high school art in Sacramento, I returned to school earning my Masters of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. The MFA led to a variety of teaching positions, the most recent at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where I began in 1997. My large sculpture and ceramics studio is in New Hope VA, next to my home and garden.”


Robert Devers: Hand-built Extruded Vases. (Hands-on)


Explore the use of the extruder to create multi-chambered crystalline vase forms using soft and leather-hard hollow extrusions. Through the lens of geology we will explore mineral and crystalline formations as distillations of matter, in consideration of various categories of rock, such as igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, we will explore the intersection these three with the formal parameters of the vessel, figure, and landscape. In this workshop we will explore the use of the extruder in the creation of multi-chambered vase forms. Using soft and leather-hard hollow extruded forms, we will create multi-chamber vase forms, which interpret and reinvent crystalline forms found in nature. A variety of shapes of simple and complex forms will be created based on the idea of multiple crystal forms which seemingly grow and evolve into forms for flowers. Limit 12 participants, others may observe. PM Session.

Robert Devers - Bio

Robert Devers is an artist with a multi-faceted practice that includes ceramics, sculpture, painting, and photography. Ceramics remains his essential focus and provides the lens through which the other mediums are engaged and ultimately brought back into play in ceramic practice. He is the owner and founder of Blue Fire Studio in Mt. Rainier, Md., where he holds exhibitions and workshops, as well as serving as his primary studio.

Robert Devers received his MFA degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, majoring in ceramics at both institutions. He is currently Professor of Art at NOVA, teaching Ceramics and 3-D Design, in Annandale, VA, and Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Silver Spring, MD. Previous teaching experience includes: The George Washington University, The Corcoran College of Arts + Design, American University, Montgomery College, and VisArts at Rockville, among others.Since 2004 he has served as the Visual Arts Coordinator and co-founder of the Visual Arts Program of the Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival, based in Maiori, Italy, where he also leads ceramics workshops in maiolica glaze painting.

Mr. Devers exhibits his work and teaches workshops internationally.Recent exhibitions include venues such as Grattacielo Pirelli, Milan Italy, VisArts At Rockville, Katzen Art Center, Washington, DC, and Fabrica La Aurora in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Works in public collections include: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, American University Art Gallery; Katzen Art Center, Museo Artistico Industrial Manuel Cargaliero, Vietri sul Mare, Italy, Museo Manuel Cargaliero, Castelo Branco, Portugal, International Monetary Fund, and the Washington Brain and Spine Institute.


Kate Westfall: Surface Ornamentation. (Hands-on)

02_Friday_Westfall- Tulipiere.jpg

This 2.5 hour hands-on workshop will emphasize the use of various surface ornamentation techniques. Participants will embellish wet leather-hard tiles with silk-screened transfers and will have the opportunity to practice creating and applying sprigs (delicate ornamental pieces). Demonstrations will include silk screening, sprig mold making, sprig application, and decal application. Discussion will go beyond the technical and revolve around the potential to create content through layering. (Please bring a paint brush (1/2”-1” is ideal), and a hard rib (not metal!) to participate. All other materials will be provided.) Discussion will include both technical issues and the potential to create content through layering. Limit 15 participants per session, others may observe. AM and PM Sessions.



Kate Westfall – Artist Statement

Art has the power to change the world. Through my work, I seek to emphasize the beauty of unity and common ground by overlapping patterns and ornamental architectural details from various cultures and faiths with the simple message that we are better together. I develop narratives in many of my pieces by layering silk-screen transfers, sprigs, decals and luster.

Kate Westfall –Bio

Kate Westfall is the owner of Daedal Earth Designs, a member of Fire on at the Torpedo Factory and a teacher at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA. Born to two artists and raised on 32 acres of fairytale-worthy old farm land in western NY, Kate grew up loving nature and all things handmade. Her business, Daedal, is partnered with the National Forest Foundation and donates a tree to be planted for every piece she sells.

Kate graduated with her BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2012. After graduation, she moved down to the DC area to teach and continue making her work. In 2016, she moved to VA where she now lives in a little log cabin with her husband and their three dogs.


Marianne Cordyack: Hand Made Brushes. (Hands-on)

Learn the easy steps for making your own “Japanese-style” brushes to decorate your work. Limit 15 participants, others may observe. PM Session from 2-3:30.

Marianne Cordyack – Bio

Marianne has worked in clay for 30 years, half of that time as the owner of Spiral Ridge Pottery in Shannondale, WV. There she fires her work in a salt-kiln she built. She also teaches salt-firing workshops.




Sculpt a Bust from a Live Model with Guy Zoller. (Hands-on

Using clay on an armature, participants will explore sculpting. Limit 12 participants, others may observe. Materials fee: $35. AM Session.

Guy Zoller – Bio

Guy is a sculptor, potter, ceramicist and teaches at the Reston Community Center. He owns River Water Art Works LLC, combining art installation and consulting with sculpture and ceramics on a privately owned island in the heart of the Thousand Islands region.



Ray Bogle Leads Naked Raku. (Hands-on)

Ray will guide you through the process of glazing and firing your bisque ware naked-raku style, a technique that allows you to remove the glaze at the end, leaving a beautifully patterned piece. Bring 3-5 bisqued pieces made of Raku clay per session. Limit 8 participants per session. Materials fee: $45. AM and PM Sessions. 

Ray Bogle – Bio

Ray has been working with clay for over 30 years and for a majority of that time has focused his efforts of various alternative firing techniques such as Raku, pit, and saggar firing. In 2008 he became aware of the Raku variant called "Naked Raku" and began to experiment with it. He was attracted to the soft satin surface and the bold black and white crackle. He continued to study the technique and learned its subtleties so that most of the time pots successfully move through the process. Ray teaches in his own studio in Huntingtown, MD and at a local community clay studio and continues to explore various firing techniques.


MobileRaku Firing with Brett Thomas. (Hands-on)

Brett will guide you through the decoration and glazing techniques and firing process of contemporary Raku, using your personal bisque ware. Then, as a group we will learn the firing process of contemporary Raku using your personal bisque ware.  It's best to use Raku clay.  All work must be bisque fired. Bring 5 bisqued pieces made of Raku clay per session.  Limit 15 participants per session. Materials fee: $55. PM Session and an 8 PM Evening Session.




Primitive Firing Sampler. (Hands-on)

John Jensen, Colleen O’Sullivan, and presenter James Watkins will use several sawdust pit firing techniques: oil drum, brick chimney, and garbage cans; and several options for interesting colorants. Bring 4 pieces per session.  Limit 12 participants per session. Materials fee: $45. AM and PM Sessions.

Colleen O’Sullivan & John Jensen – Bios

Colleen, A professional potter, directs the Ceramic program at The Art Center, Troy, NY. John is the director of ceramics at St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD.



The following are Friday Demonstrations, Workshops, and Discussions with no Limited Enrollment and No Pre-registration Sign-up:


Diana Faris/AMACO/Brent: Mixing and Layering Mid-Range Glazes. (Hands-on. No limit to participate.)

Blend and layer cone 5-6 brushing glazes to create your own color values and glaze effects. AMACO Celadon and Potters Choice oxidation glazes provide limitless possibilities to achieve your own surfaces without all the dry materials and chemicals. Application and firing variables will be reviewed and reference materials provided.

This is a hands-on workshop with visual presentations to explore Volumetric Mixing and glaze interactions. An assortment of glazes will be available for mixing and layering your own colors on textured bisque tiles. Participants are encouraged to bring their own small bisque pots or test tiles to glaze during class. AM & PM Sessions.

Diana Faris – Bio

Diana began teaching pottery in 1992, completing her MFA in Ceramics at UF (Gainesville) in 1995. She is currently Director of Educational Outreach at AMACO, teaching workshops around the country. Her previous clay-work experience includes four years as Glaze Department Manager and two years as Fabrication Studio Director at Historic Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, creating heirloom quality hand-made tiles. She likes to create narrative tile murals, figurative sculptures and wheel-thrown, assembled pots.


Brett Thomas: Contemporary Trenchers. (Demo)

Historically, Trenchers are a medieval dish to serve the poor. Brett will demo throwing oval forms and hand-built large-scale slab forms in making the Trenchers. AM Session.

Brett Thomas – Bio

Brett is the owner of Mobile Raku, a traveling ceramic classroom that offers workshops throughout the Northeast. Brett is a ceramics instructor at The Wayne Art Center, Wayne, PA.



Barbarah Robertson: Crash Course in Breaking into Online Sales. (Discussion)

This lecture will cover the basics of breaking into the world of online sales.

We'll be covering things like...

  • Social Media
  • Catering to your target audience
  • Product photography on a budget
  • Photo shoot do's and don'ts
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Focusing on your goals and knowing your limitations

AM Session.

Barbarah Robertson – Bio

Barbarah Robertson is a full-time studio potter, concentrating on the production of rustic functional ware for table and garden. With 23+ years of experience behind the wheel & kiln, she and husband Bruce currently produce 2 distinctly different lines of pottery, and fire solely mid-range oxidation.


Jane Cullum: Not Your Average Handle Demo! (Demo)

Using her over 40 years of ceramic experience, Jane Cullum of Manassas Clay will be demonstrating a variety of handles--pulled, coiled, thrown, and slab for mugs, pitchers, casseroles and teapots--using textures, stamps, sticks, and toys. “I just like to throw.  I got all the way through school without an art course.  When my kids were little, we were in Canada one of our neighbors was a potter—I was hooked.  So I've been making pots for over 40 years and Fran [Newquist] and I have had Manassas Clay for 20 years.  I think it was in 1992 when George Brown, Linda Bowman and I sat around my kitchen and came up with the idea for Clay Connection.” AM Session.




Dick White and Natasha Thomas: Photographing Your Pots. (Demo) 

Learn the tricks to improving photos of your ceramic-ware--how to set up a photo booth (fancy or on a budget); use of light–natural or lamps; and using gradient backdrop,  use of a camera, DSLR or smartphone; white balance (WB); how to photograph high gloss glazes (Dick found a $4.99 app for iPhone that gives more control over focus, WB, aperture, exposure, etc., and is playing with it now and would like to find something similar for android owners). PM Session.

Natasha Thomas- Bio

Natasha had been photographing people at live events and in the studio for 10 years until one day she caught the pottery bug. Now she brings her camera to the ceramics shop where skills in photography and pottery really complement each other. After all, a good portrait can reveal true colors of a person as well as of a... pot.

Dick White- Bio

Dick is a recovering accountant, and after spending 30+ years toiling with numbers in the federal vineyard he now relaxes by teaching and making pottery. His classes at Audrey Moore Wakefield RecCenter, Northern Virginia Community College (Alexandria), Alexandria Clay Coop, and Lorton Workhouse Arts Center include handbuilding, wheel throwing, and glaze technology. Even after 15 years of playing in the mud, there are still new things to learn!

Mike Swauger, The Kiln Doctor: Kiln Maintenance. (Demo)

Kiln maintenance can keep your kiln running better and longer without a service call. Mike will share tips and tricks to keep your kiln tip-top:

  • ·      New technology in kiln controls / automatic kilns
  • ·      Converting manual kilns over to automatic controls
  • ·      Understanding firing stages for bisque and glaze firings
  • ·      Kiln and room venting – Importance
  • ·      Kiln setup, studio design,  safety and preventive care    

Mike Swauger- Bio

Mike began The Kiln Doctor in 1989 offering kiln repair as a part time evenings and weekend basis based in Alexandria where Creative Clay studios began. In 1996 he began full time services  until moving  to Front Royal Va. In Dec. 1998 to the present time. He started this business due to need and lack of experienced technicians that were familiar with all brands of studio equipment necessary for a ceramic / pottery studio, school, college, art center or business. To this day Mike stays on top of manufacture design, changes/upgrades and new technology. Mike’s team provides services in VA, WV, MD and DC, along with a full service store that he started in 2010 in an old building on main street. In 2012 he relocated to a much better suited building at 100 East 8th St. Front Royal, VA.


Jayne Shatz Leads a Genius Bar: Diversifying Your Work. (Panel Discussion)

This panel will explore how to diversify for successful pottery business that lasts a lifetime not just a temporary fling; having a pottery business, providing workshops for the clay community; writing; blogging; ceramic research; making dvd’s; and more. PM Session: second half, from 3:30-5.


Vendor Presentations Ongoing Friday & Saturday. We invite many ceramic industry vendors, who will provide demonstrations and have ceramic supplies for sale. You may stroll through the vendor area throughout the conference weekend. There will be vendor demos at 1 pm on Friday, and other times, which will be listed in the program. 



 the 12th Biennial Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference 

Add me to Conference e-mail list for information about future conferences.

You should attend the conference if you…

  • Love working and playing with clay

  • Want to learn more about clay and see new techniques

  • Want to connect with the Mid-Atlantic clay community

  • Want to have a blast!

For more information, contact us at!