dr. dorothy valcarcel craig

I create handcrafted, functional, household wares that reflect the simplicity, wonders, and imperfections of life.  Each piece is designed to highlight humble, comforting food while encouraging and celebrating the inner culinary artist in all!

 

As a child of ten, I "made" my first piece of pottery in Queens, N.Y. at a ceramics shop that offered classes for kids and that featured bisqued pottery pieces and a few glazes.  My very first ceramics teacher was a wonderfully quirky lady who set up her attic as a studio.  I worked off tuition costs by helping Mrs. Ichles set up for classes.  I helped kiln watch in middle school for a local ceramics teacher--who later taught me to slip cast.   Then, after throwing my first pot in a high school art class, I began the "clay love" journey!  Although not formally trained in art, my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education took me once again to the wheel where I experimented with clay and other media under the guidance of Dr. Lon Nuell.  Since then, I have studied with Lewis Snyder for ten years at his Murfreesboro, Tennessee studio [Studio S] before opening Summer Triangle Pottery.  We began the studio at The Clay Lady's Campus on Lebanon Road and have recently made the move to East Nashville...Summer Triangle Pottery is finally home in a quirky little cottage reminiscent of Mrs. Ickles' ceramic studio in Queens!

 

My Inspiration…
 

A quiet kitchen, the smell of bread baking, and the calm that comes with creating and designing (along with the sounds of the city and south)… A good deal of my inspiration comes from a blending of the days I spend in Maine every summer along with my Brooklyn upbringing and my life in the south. My grandfathers were bakers and cooks which encourages me to also draw inspiration from the simple things in everyday life as well as the needs of humble and hardworking kitchens.  The colors found in sea, sky, earth, and fire are grounded in my designs. I find joy in simple forms that find functional uses and which reflect southern traditions with a touch of New England and the flair and swag of a Brooklyn born soul. As an avid reader, the word is always a source of creativity for me.

 

I love the collaborative process involved in working with chefs and those in the food industry.  Thus, I am inspired by my favorite chefs around Nashville and beyond...Hal Holden-Bache (my all time fav chef), Chef Trey Cioccia (my scrappy bro), Nick and Audra Guidry (best designers), my "paisanos," the Nicolettos, and the siren sound of Edna Lewis, Alice Waters, and of course...Margot!

 

Making and handcrafting…

 

I am drawn to the earthy tones of red clay and earthenware and like to think of this fascination as Brooklyn Red (the name of the clay) meets Scarlett O’Hara…or in chefy terms—Geoffrey Zacharian meets Hugh Acheson.    I also use white stoneware and on occasion, deep chocolate brown clay.  But by far my favorite clay is the toasty speckled stoneware that we use for Lockeland Table.
 

Most of my pieces are hand built and shaped using the wheel and all reflect the imperfections typical of a handcrafted piece.  I carefully consider the glaze and how the match between glaze and clay body will influence the finished product.  The obsession with color leads me to test after test just to find the right match, tone, and hue.  My glaze testing also allows me to identify glazes that are either gloss finish or soft satin and matte finish.  I prefer soft satin finishes and like to combine soft gloss with soft satin to get interesting effects. 

 

The pieces are then left to dry until they become leather hard and ready for the first firing.  After the bisque firing, each piece is studied until I find the perfect blend of glazes and clay. Sometimes this stage includes stenciling, overlaying glazes, pouring, or spraying and even a little ash from a pizza oven!  I fire primarily in an electric kiln at a mid-range temperature of 2232. 

 

Then the wait begins and continues until the glaze kiln can be opened.  Lifting the lid of the kiln, the eye is greeted with finished pieces in bursts of color, varying finishes, and soft textures…and hopefully no broken pieces!

 

 

... oh, and I am a Professor of Education at Middle Tennessee State Univeristy...when not throwing, painting, baking, canning, DIY-ing my 90 year old bungalow and fiddling. ;-) 


Professional Membership:

  • Potter's Council

  • Tennessee Craft (Business Membership)

  • American Educational Research Association

  • TNTESOL