This week on the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler Podcast I have an interview with Ben Owen III from Seagrove, NC. He has been potting since the age of eight and is the sixth generation of the Owen family to work in clay. In addition to a childhood steeped in the family pottery tradition, Owen studied ceramics at Eastern Carolina University and has been a resident artist in Tokoname, Japan. In our interview we talk about the history of Seagrove, the art of story telling, and becoming an advocate for craft in North Carolina. To see examples of Ben Owen pottery please visit www.benowenpottery.com.
Ben has a beautiful studio that is separated into three work stations that are dedicated exclusively to earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain clays. He easily switches back and forth between bodies of work that are fired at different temperatures in a variety of kilns and atmospheres. Modular work units are a core component of the studio's design because he wanted to maximize efficiency without having to sacrifice space for experimentation.
One of his many segregated spaces is a small glaze room dedicated to his lead-based red glaze. This unique glaze is rare and unfortunately highly toxic to work with. After visiting Ben's studio I was impressed with how he has come up with a system to work with the glaze without it contaminating the rest of the studio.
The spacious layout of the studio allows Owen room to work on corporate commissions for decorative vessels. These large scale forms are a testament to his exceptional throwing skills. He often works with interior decorators who place this body of work in hotels, corporate lobbies, and other commercial venues.