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Carl deGraaf

“Hand-crafted pottery is a modest indulgence to be enjoyed as a luxury on a daily basis.”

While Carl deGraaf creates a wide range of products including some unusual items for a potter, bookends for instance, he says his hand-crafted mugs receive the most attention during construction.

“A mug is a very personal object that has the potential to create strong emotional reactions for the user,” Carl says. “For example, a mug handle is like an extended hand. The handle is so important that I add a little thumb rest on top of all my mug handles so the users thumb is happy to spend time there.”

Carl considers himself a production artist, often working on 40 to 50 pieces in a session. He uses the traditional throwing wheel, but also works through press molding, extrusions, slab and hand building, often in combinations. Regardless of the technique, each of his pieces is unique, some with uncommon surface textures or carvings.

His work is influenced by his other interests, including sailing, bicycling, forestry, gardening, photography and wood working. It was a love of sailing that enticed Carl to pick up clay for the first time when he was in his early thirties.

“One of my professors had boats and wanted to learn how to sail. I knew how to sail and didn’t have boats. It dawned on me that he made money to buy his boats from his pottery. Three months later I was hooked and selling,” Carl says.

Thirty years later, Carl has refined his process, starting with clay from dry bags, blending it to his own formula, building each piece and blending his own glazes. From start to finish, he is proud of his pottery, especially his hand carving.

“I would never have guessed that carving on a pot would be the part I liked the best. It is an intimate process and just a very nice activity to be engaged in.”