Carol Harris loves mornings.
Every day she gets up at the crack of dawn, moves swiftly through her house chores, and by eight o'clock, she will be in her studio ready to make pottery.
Her studio is tiny; a room no more than 50 square feet, extended from the cellar of the house. Along the wall, there is a work bench lined with bottles of colors for glazing and samples from testing; under it, bags full of clay. In the corner of this L-shaped enclave, sits her wheel. It will be turning and humming through the morning hours as her caressing hands hone each mold into shapes of bowls, vases, and plates, both large and small.
When the molds are done, Carol's mind spins into full creativity. Using a knife, she may cut out hearts along the brim of a bowl. A chopstick is handy in making edges of imprints around the base of the bowl. Again, she works quickly with amazing eye and hand coordination. How each space between the hearts turns out so evenly is a mystery. As far as I know, she never uses a ruler of any kind.
I like to drop by Carol’s to pick up pottery for my store. It puts less labor on packaging, while saving money on shipping. Most of all, I love the time I spend with Carol at her studio. Amidst the fresh smell of wet clay and new molds of ware line on the bench waiting to dry, Carol will explain how some of the patterns and design were conceptualized.
Random objects from her doorstep, leaves and petals from her yard, or mementos of memory will work into clay with her imagination. A humble twig from nowhere will make a handsome tree imprint on a plate, and the veins of a house plant leaf come alive with proper glaze. Recently, she puts some heirloom lace to work, making some beautiful blue and white plates look like crispy dollies. There are always exclamations, from me, and lots of witty remarks, from her, as we go through the finished products on her display shelves.
At age 76, Carol is expanding the horizon of her art. She is not afraid to experiment, and gives each project full freedom to evolve. She was honored, in 2013, by Sussex County Art and Heritage Council for her achievement. After that, a sculptured piece also received a reward in a juried show. As Carol once claimed “I am a sculptor and a potter", the eye catching sculpture effect has taken a hold in her pottery and becomes a unique trait of her work- a true celebration of individualism.
"I dreamt my project the night before, and can't wait to get to it this morning,” Carol tells me on my most recent visit. Watching her in her clay-stained apron, from lifting a 50 pound bag of clay, I turn speechless.