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Groov'n in the mud with The Kiln Club

Klaudia Levin at a Kiln Club exhibit
Klaudia Levin at a Kiln Club exhibit
James George

Does it seem to you that artists are being influenced more by popular reality television programs that suggest creativity be driven by a theme? In the instance of music, artists often create with something playing in the background. In fact, in some studios there have been debates about what music should be played, and how long before the type of music is changed. That is reality.

Artists, and potters in this instance, may be inspired by the beat or score, and that is believable. Then again, some may be motivated by what they hear in their head or feel in their heart.

Here is a bit of history.

“The Woodstock Music & Art Fair—informally, the Woodstock Festival or simply Woodstock—was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre (240 ha; 0.94 sq mi) dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969. Bethel, in Sullivan County, is 43 miles (69 km) southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York, in adjoining Ulster County.”

Tracy Griffith, the talented writer and potter has gifted us with her treatment of this new show at the Scope Gallery in the Torpedo Factory.

Noted is this list of samples and taste of unique descriptives.

  1. “Arias of art”
  2. “ceramic vessels gettin' jiggy wit' songsters, musical genres and melodic inspiration”
  3. Muslingers
  4. Stoned
  5. Seasonal
  6. Hollywood

See the annotated list below.

“Get Into the Groove: Inspiration not silent as artists bust a move with mud

Alexandria, Va., March 31, 2014 -- Music is taking a turn on the potter's wheel as clay artists present pop tune-inspired pieces, cutting loose with clay and mamboing with mud, creating arias of art at the Torpedo Factory Art Center's Scope Gallery.

The Kiln Club has turned into the hottest spot in town with ceramic vessels gettin' jiggy wit' songsters, musical genres and melodic inspiration. While neighboring Art League Gallery shows wall art of everyday objects with cultural references in its "Pop Art" show, Kiln Club artists demonstrate popular music influencing decorative and functional ceramics in "Get Into the Groove."

Shake it with a spiraled lidded jar splashed with iridescent glaze, mirroring the driving beat of "Hollywood Nights" by Bob Seger. "Little Bird" by Ed Sheeran provides a romantic indie folk backdrop for a playful teapot with sculpted bird details.

Songful tastes translate onto the dining room table as vessels are paired with a musical muse. The smooth crooning of Nat King Cole's "Autumn Leaves" inspire elegant vases and platters impressed with oak and maple foliage in a natural palette. Songbird creamers paired with sweet sugar bowls show "why birds suddenly appear" with the opening notes of Karen Carpenter's "Close to You." Handpainted Spring-themed dishware recalls classical trills and soaring notes of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."

Expressive sculptures are inspired by the passionate staccato rhythm of Argentine tangos while hand painted strutting roosters on stoneware bowls and cups are spin-offs from Puccini arias.

Mudslinging artists naturally gravitate toward hard rock, and The Rolling Stones classic, "You Can't Always get What you Want," is embodied by a rockin' set of golden salt-and-pepper shakers. Plucky Beatles also get a nod with a sculpted guinea piggy bank crowned 'Ringo,' over other kings of pop.

Crawling into the auditory consciousness of an artist is an interesting exploration. Interpretation from ear through arm creates an edgy quality that sings uniquely from an earthy perspective. Dig these musical motivations with mud!"

The Kiln Club show runs March 31 to April 27, Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Thursdays open until 9 p.m. The Art League show runs April 9 to May 5, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays noon to 6 p.m. with Thursdays open until 9 p.m. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is closed April 20, Easter. The galleries are located at 105 North Union Street, ground floor, Alexandria, VA. 22314. For further information call the Scope Gallery at 703-548-6288 or visit

1. “Arias of art”
1. “Arias of art” Scope Gallery

1. “Arias of art”

“ Puccini aria-inspired hand-painted rooster plate by Laura Nichols of Great Falls, Va.”

"I have been making pots for 40 years. I am self-taught, leaving me to wonder on occasion whether I have a genius or an idiot for a teacher. I have learned that being a potter requires optimism and the subtle art of persuasion. My formal education is Anthropological Linguistics (PhD, The American University 1988.) I work in my home studio, Pig Pen Pottery, on my family farm, Hidden Springs Farm, in Great Falls, Va. I make functional terra cotta and stoneware pieces, stoneware lamps, fountains and masks. The stoneware is fired in a reduction gas kiln."

2. “ceramic vessels gettin' jiggy wit' songsters, musical genres and melodic inspiration”
2. “ceramic vessels gettin' jiggy wit' songsters, musical genres and melodic inspiration” Scope Gallery

2. “ceramic vessels gettin' jiggy wit' songsters, musical genres and melodic inspiration”

“Stoneware romantic bird teapot inspired by Ed Sheeran's "Little Bird" by Dana Lehrer Danze of Arlington, Va.”

"I create teapots, vases, bowls, platters, oil lamps, brie bakers, birdhouses, pitchers, and many other forms. I mainly work in blue and green glazes and red-brown raw clay. Images like birds, spirals, and leaves decorate the work."

3.  Muslingers
3. Muslingers Scope Gallery

3. Muslingers

“Bluebird cup and plate set inspired by Jan Peerce's "Bluebird of Happiness" by Peggy Reichard of Accokeek, Md.”

"My work reflects my life - boating, traveling, and living in the woods.

My environment is full of creatures and I enjoy adding their forms to my work. I also find the boat form, a lovely elongated oval, compelling and return to it again and again."

4. Stoned
4. Stoned Scope Gallery

4. Stoned

"Handbuilt hard rock stoneware salt-and-pepper shakers by Klaudia Levin of Silver Spring, Md. are inspired by The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want""

"Klaudia Levin was born and raised in Bavaria, and moved to the United States twenty years ago. She began her artistic career in Newton, Massachusetts and subsequently studied for nearly ten years at the Harvard Ceramic Program. She recently relocated to Silver Spring with her husband and two children.

Klaudia works on reduction firing, and is a nationally known expert in Raku. She turns functional pieces of attractive balance and weight on the wheel, and occasionally hand builds her forms to extend asymmetry and negative space. Klaudia’s pieces are inspired by nature and her surroundings, and capture the shape, texture, and free light play of the urban outdoors."

5. Seasonal
5. Seasonal Scope Gallery

5. Seasonal

“Maple leaf-imprinted plate inspired by Nat King Cole's "Autumn Leaves" by Martin Karcher of Washington, D.C”

"Martin Karcher makes his work at the Lee Arts Center. He is a diligent artisan whose work is distinguished by floral treatment, often on serving plates. However, I have a teapot with matching cups with wicker handles and a finely sculpted pattern on all pieces that are most distinguished when serving high tea."

6.  Hollywood
6. Hollywood Scope Gallery

6. Hollywood

“Raku-fired lidded jar inspired by Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights" by Bev Andrews of Alexandria, Va”

"She enjoys experimenting with different forms and shapes whether thrown on the wheel, hand built or a combination of both. Lidded vessels are a favorite form, and she likes to create unusual lids, handles, and stands to add character. She gains inspiration from nature and her travels. The Zen concept of “shibui” -- simple, unaffected beauty in harmony with nature -- guides her work. Her goal is to create unique pieces that have simplicity and grace. For several years, she has been a practicing student of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, a Japanese form of flower arranging, and she designs and makes containers for use in these arrangements.

Although she is most recognized for her dramatic black and white raku vessels, she fires half of her work in wood or gas kilns."