ABI: How would you describe your style, and how did you develop it?
SF: I graduated from college in 1977 with a degree in ceramics. At that point in my life all I wanted to do was make work on the potter’s wheel and sell them at craft shows. It seemed so easy back then, but after a while I felt like it was becoming very limited in what I wanted to do with clay. My line of thrown porcelain was selling well and got me into the best shows in the country but I was bored.
Then I started working with slabs and making plaster molds. This enables me to make anything I wanted to and not use a potter’s wheel as much. This is how I started to realize I could make any thing I wanted to if I found the right thing to make a mold from.
Lots of my molds are made from found objects. Some examples: Weber grills, bowling balls, plastic ravens, ducks, road cones and other assorted things. I have at least 100 press molds or more. Finding things to make press molds from is something I enjoy.
It is a never-ending hunt for something new. Some days I feel like a kid with a new toy. I like to think that my style is always changing and this is what I enjoy the most.
ABI: Do the totems you create have special meanings?
SF: I started making totems about 10 years ago. It started out this way because my wife came home with a wooden totem she purchased at an auction many years ago. I started looking at totems in books and online and thought I should try making one for the property.
My favorite totems come from the Pacific Northwest, but you could see variations of totems in other parts of the world. I make my totems because I want my work to be seen by a greater audience.
ABI: Tell us about some of the special totems you’ve made, and where they are displayed.
SF: I apply to sculptures shows and have sold many through this type of venue. About five years ago I won a first prize at a show in New Bern, North Carolina and won a $10,000 purchase prize. The piece is now on permanent display in New Bern. Most of the totems are in private collections.
ABI: What are some concerns that buyers have when purchasing ceramic work? How do you address those concerns?
SF: I have noticed that over the past few years shipping charges have gone through the roof. When we pack functional work or garden objects, I tend to use lots of packing. If you do not over pack, it’s a good chance you will have broken pots on arrival. We have very little breakage because we don’t cut corners when it comes to packing.
My minimum orders vary. I would rather have a low minimum order than one that is too high because I am always looking for new accounts. A high minimum order is always a problem for small stores.