Early memories of her mother making hand-built ceramic pieces to
date to local charity fundraisers helped shape Mary Brown’s interest in pottery
and art. As a young girl, she would anxiously wait for the ceramic kiln to cool
so they could open it and see the various results. That same excitement is
visible in Mary’s work today – as she experiments with stoneware and micaceous
clay, and raku and pit firing. While the process is long, her micaceous cooking
vessels can take up to 5 hours just to sculpt, she says she has so much fun
that she doesn’t measure the time.
Mary has been a lifelong student, taking numerous arts, drawing,
and painting classes, and most recently, wheel-throwing from fellow Black Belt
Treasures artist Cynthia Dahlstrom. Her talents are wide; Mary also enjoys
sewing, carving gourds, basket weaving, watercolor painting, and chair caning.
But her passion is clay. She enjoys the rewarding process of taking a grey or
red lump of raw clay and seeing it come to life. She loves the excitement and
result of the flames during firing.
Her micaceous clay cooking
vessels are hand built from coils, sanded, and scraped until smooth. She
finishes the surface by burnishing (rubbing the surface with a hard tool) four
layers of slip – a long but rewarding process. Once these vessels leave her hands,
they continue to evolve over the life of the piece, changing color and maturing
with each use – continuing to inspire as her mother inspired her.