About The Artist
Barbara Walch has been making handbuilt pottery since 1973. She is one of only a few American potters who work primarily with the pinch technique. Her handcrafted stoneware dinnerware is distinctive, unusual, and appealing. Barbara and her husband, Charlie Krause, are the proprietors of Fire Flower Garden at their home located just outside the village of Thorndike, in central Maine, where her studio has been since 1989. In addition to the working pottery studio, there are extensive cottage gardens, cutting beds and a roadside plant stand.
My pottery is made by hand, by my hands alone, with the use of a few small hand tools. I form each pot without the use of a potter’s wheel or other major piece of equipment because I like the tactile experience of immediate and direct contact with soft malleable clay. I enjoy seeing and feeling the clay’s response to the actions of my hands.
My work is meant to stimulate the imagination and the viewer’s sense of fantasy while bringing to mind details of the natural land-or-sea-scape though organic forms; to renew our sense of connection to nature using the colors of earth and autumn, the textures of sand and stone, and the forms of leaves, qourds, shells, seed pods, driftwood and flowers. These are the details of forest and ocean, of the earth, the source of our existence.
My work is not meant to represent specific objects found in nature, but to remind us of the various essential aspects and details of these images. They are echoes of the natural world which nurtures and supports us.
The functional reality of this pottery serves to connect our daily activities of eating and socializing with those essential details of the natural world, and reminds us of them while answering our human needs to make the special from the ordinary, to ritualize and to make new traditions for ourselves.
About the Pottery
The hands-on art form called “pinch” pottery has been the method of choice for Walch since she began making pottery full time in the early 1970’s. This process involves starting with a chunk of clay and forming it patiently into a shape, either functional or fanciful, using only the artists hands and imagination. Because each piece is hand built no two are ever exactly alike. Lately Walch has been experimenting with the ancient technique of building containers using coils of clay, as well as from flat “slabs”.
The pottery is stoneware, a durable clay fired at very high temperatures. A striking characteristic of her work is that the exterior is often left unglazed, allowing the natural patina and texture of the fired clay to define the form. When glazes are applied, often only to the inside, they are reminiscent of colors found in nature, such as a clear morning sky or the cherry red of maple flowers in the spring light, or a drift of snow slowly melting into a plowed furrow. Her work strongly suggests shapes and textures found in the natural world, and spring from both her intimate involvement in that world and from the nature of the clay itself.
The following is a quote from an online presentation of Barbara Walch pottery which was recently exhibited at P!nch, a shop in Northampton, Massachusetts which she helped start:
Throughout her long career Walch has continued to perfect her pinched pots, making them larger and more detailed. The refined forms she creates are both organic and extremely sophisticated. She is no doubt the most well known artist working in this form at this time. Walch is a keen observer of the natural world and an avid gardener. The organic forms she creates are a reflection of these activities. Her forms, which do not represent specific objects, are meant to stimulate the viewer’s imagination and sense of fantasy. Walch calls them “echoes of the natural world which nurtures and supports us.”
To visit P!nch online go to http://www.pinchgallery.com/