David Shaner (1934-2002)

David Shaner was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease in the late 1990s when he was in his mid-60s.  He felt many of his neurological problems stemmed from the glazes he developed and used, especially the manganese in his black crystalline Maria glaze.

Everything in an artist's life is important.  Everything feeds into your life, and if you are aware of what is around you, then it affects your work.  You saturate your body with all the images.  I listen to music constantly.  It feeds my creative psyche. Sometimes I make sketches of a pot, but I found I could draw pots I couldn't make and could make pots I couldn't draw. Perhaps I would sketch a new piece, but for the most part I allowed the clay to speak for me, and I went on from there.

My recent pots evolved slowly over the years.  Some of my latest pots were ideas I had in my mind somewhere for years and years, and they crept out slowly and became part of the things I made.  The natural process is good.  It's not important to change your style every year, although galleries seem to prefer that sort of thing.  If you work naturally, your pots will change. You reach a place where you only become an instrument for the pot to make itself.

It's important to pay attention to [the] odd-ball pieces you make.  In many instances, these odd-ball pieces become your statement.  Many of my recent pieces are reflections of experimentations over the years, and simply took a long time to surface.

All works of art are beautiful when they suggest something beyond themselves.  Indeed, pottery is about more than the making of pottery.  It is about developing the whole life.  I was fortunate to have the advantage of doing something I love doing.  There were times, certainly, when I was tired of making pots, but I can truly say that when I entered my studio every day I felt good about what I was doing.  Even after long tiring hours, I was always glad I was a potter and never thought about being anything else.

I am proud to be a small part of the American clay movement.  There is no question that something intangible left my body now that I can no longer work.  I'm a prisoner of my body, but music is my way to escape.  If I were a composer, it might be said that while I never wrote ostentatious symphonies, I wrote string quartets filled with clarity, serenity, humility, and I hope, love.

Excerpts from Shaner's Red (A Studio Potter Monograph)

Studio Soundtrack (2016-present)

The Complete Geffen Recordings: Joni Mitchell

Postcards: Meadowlark

Saw You In a Dream (EP): The Japanese House

Clean (EP): The Japanese House

Swim Against the Tide (EP): The Japanese House

Pools to Bathe In (EP): The Japanese House

Let It Break: Jenny Weaver

You Always (EP): HRH

Pretend: Seinabo Sey

Younger (The Remixes): Seinabo Sey

Relaxer: Alt J

An Awesome Wave: Alt J

This Is All Yours: Alt J

Picture You: The Amazing

Corazon de Papel: Los Charros

Afterglow: Asgeir

Pleasure: Feist

Carrie and Lowell Live: Sufjan Stevens

Carrie and Lowell: Sufjan Stevens

Paradise (EP): Anohni

Blossom: Milky Chance

Sadnecessary: Milky Chance

Good Grief: Lucius

Plural: Electric Guest

A Crow Looked At Me: Mount Eerie

Cathedral City: Victoire

Awake: Now Ensemble

Songs from the Uproar: Now Ensemble

Field: Being Dufay: John Potter and Ambrose Field

Amores Pasados: John Potter and Anna Maria Friman

Lines: Charlie Cunningham

Not Even Happiness: Julie Byrne

Rennen: SOHN

Tremors: SOHN

I See You: The xx

Coexist: The xx

Stay Gold: First AID Kit

The Lion's Roar: First AID Kit

Before the Dawn (Live): Kate Bush

Citizen of Glass: Agnes Obel

At Swim: Lisa Hannigan

Front Row Seat to Earth: Weyes Blood

Farewell, Starlite!: Francis and the Lights

The Altar: Banks

Goddess (Deluxe Version): Banks

22, A Million: Bon Iver

Water: Porches

Ronald Paris House: Porches

Past Life: Lost in the Trees

blackSUMMER'snight: Maxwell

Joanne: Lady Gaga

Divorce Party: Ruby the RabbitFoot


The real reward of art is quintessentially immediate and private: the moment in which a work that has been invisible, conceptual, becomes actual.  This always seemed to me a miracle, each work itself, so fresh and new.  This instant has an equivalent in childbirth: I always felt that I had got acquainted with the child in my womb but not quite enough to know who the person was, so at the moment of birth I felt a kind of recognition.  The phrase, "Oh, it was you" used to come into mind when I first held my babies.

Prospect (1997), Anne Truitt


Lucie Rie (1902-1995)

To make pots is an adventure to me, every new work a new beginning.  Indeed I shall never cease to be a pupil. There seems to the casual onlooker little variety in ceramic shapes and designs but to the lover of pottery there is an endless variety of the most exciting kind.  And there is nothing sensational about it, only a silent grandeur and quietness.

If one should ask me whether I believe to be a modern potter or a potter of tradition I would answer: I don't know and I don't care. Art alive is always modern, no matter how old or how young.  Art-theories have no meaning for me, beauty has.  This is all my philosophy.  I do not attempt to be original or different.  Something which to describe I am not clever enough moves me to do what I do.

Here in England where I live and work for more than twelve years I have found many friends and many people who appreciate crafts. So I feel at home.

Lucie Rie Archive (Sainsbury Center)

Studio Soundtrack

Aventine (Deluxe Edition):  Agnes Obel

Philharmonics (Deluxe Edition):  Agnes Obel

Flavors of Entanglement:  Alanis Morissette

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie:  Alanis Morissette

In the Silence (Deluxe Edition):  Asgier

Ark:  Brendan Perry

Eye of the Hunter:  Brendan Perry

In Concert (2013):  Dead Can Dance

Anastasis:  Dead Can Dance

Toward the Within:  Dean Can Dance

Aion:  Dead Can Dance

Within the Realm of a Dying Sun:  Dead Can Dance

Thinking in Textures:  Chet Faker

Built on Glass:  Chet Faker

Divers:  Joanna Newsom

Carrie and Lowell:  Sufjan Stevens

Scarlet's Walk:  Tori Amos

Darling Arithmetic (Deluxe Edition):  Villagers

Communion (Deluxe Edition):  Years and Years


The warmth of hardening plaster deepened my love for its having lent itself fluently to my hand. Plaster has such grace. Working with it is like making love. And the same with clay. The fascination of mixing clay: the wedging of earth colors, minerals, back into the earth in order to make a new earth all of your own conception, consciously brought into being. The delicate strength of tools for work in clay and plaster; the ways in which they adroitly extend the sensual ability of the hand; their actual beauty in themselves - wire bound to wood, steel-toothed and curved and pimpled with rasp. My hands loved, too, the feel between them of what they had formed. This love is like that I later felt for my babies, the same quality of sensuous satisfaction. Nothing is missing from it. All is there, globed, whole, full, perfect.

Daybook (1975), Anne Truitt

New Studio

For the past year, I've rented space in a cooperative studio in Salt Lake.  It's a socially complicated (and sometimes comic) mix of students, renters and owners.  I took two cycles of classes before I became a renter, which afforded me a large shelf and a key to the building.

Being new to Salt Lake and to making pots, I've found the support and friendship of other potters a godsend.  However, working alongside others is contrary to my nature as an only child and aging gay man.  I've always had my own work space apart from the large studio I shared with five painters many years ago.  To preserve my sanity, I retreated to the basement in the building and a work table sandwiched between the studio microwave and refrigerator.  It was less than ideal but a lifesaver given my need to be away from the traffic and chatter of the upstairs space.

About a month ago, one of the two 5 by 8 feet studios in the building became available, and I jumped at the chance to have a more functional work space.  Neglected and dirty, I cleaned the space, painted everything white and washed the floor. Originally well-designed though not well-used, the small alcove has built-in shelves, a large worktable as well as room for free-standing shelves and cabinets.  I use every inch of storage and wall space, and red dogwood and black, tan and green bamboo canes are suspended from the ceiling.