Breckenridge: Functional pottery artist forms at Tin Shop
Ryan Summerlin December 4, 2011
Usually, artists travel from outside Colorado to spend time in the Tin Shop. But this month, pottery maker Maria Chambers is taking a little vacation – in nearly the same town she lives in.
But sometimes, just moving to a new location adds a different perspective.
“Maria has been instrumental in developing the ceramic studio in the Breckenridge Arts District,” said Jenn Cram, arts district coordinator. “It is wonderful to be able to showcase some of our local talent from time to time.”
Chambers fell in love with clay at age 9 – 25 years ago – during a clay workshop for kids. She started hand-building pots from coils and slabs but longed to use a potter’s wheel. Finally, at age 12, her legs were long enough so that her big toe could just reach the flywheel – “and I was hooked immediately,” she said. Her mom still uses her first piece, a vessel with a little spout, to pour cream.
“Pottery for me is about absolute delight,” Chambers said. “I have to be in the right frame of mind – if I am tense, rushed or distracted, it shows in my work. When I am grounded and relaxed, the fluidity of the feeling comes through my hands. Time slips away. I strive not for the thinnest wall possible or the lightest pot but for balance and ease.”
She also aims for pots that are comfortable to hold and finds mugs the most satisfying to create.
“Maria’s work is elegant,” Cram said. “She takes functional pottery to the next level with forms that make you want to pick them up and examine them closer and then of course sip from them or eat your favorite meal from them. Her brush work very simply captures the beauty of our mountain landscape.”
Chambers’ pottery reflects the importance of connection and relationship; she worked as a teacher and found it fascinating to watch children’s interaction with their environments. She wants people to connect with her pottery as they use it in their daily lives.
She moved to Colorado from Vermont last year, but in each state, she finds inspiration through nature, which shows up on her pots mimicking dewdrops on a twig, a winter moonrise or mountain ridgelines.
As she spends this month at the Tin Shop, she plans to stretch beyond her comfort zone and explore lidded forms. Her home away from home allows her to not only do what’s comfortable and familiar, but also to “ask thoughtful questions and (have) clear intentions,” she said.