Becki Dahlstedt

For thirty-five years, I have been making wheel-thrown functional pottery in partnership with my husband, David. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the galleries that carried our pottery and canceled all shows and events for most of 2020, I began a whole new exploration of clay. I had wanted to do this since the very first day I took pottery lessons in Berkeley, California, in 1975 when I saw pottery as another surface to paint.

In March 2020, I began hand-building pots using leather-hard (semi-dry) clay slabs that are decorated as part of the building process. I use several techniques to apply my design to the slabs. To create a transfer, I use a slip trailing bulb to draw a design on newsprint and allow that to dry. I paint over the drawings using underglazes and then paint a background (usually white or a light color) over the whole image. When that is almost dry, I place it on the clay surface and transfer the image.

I also use silk screens both from my original drawings (particularly of artist Frida Kahlo) as well as photographs to enhance my clay work. The silk-screened images are either printed directly on the clay surface or on newsprint using the transfer process.

Some of my images are brushed directly onto the leather hard slab or vessel using underglazes. Once they are dry, I use a slip trailer or a pin tool to define the painted image.

After the clay and decoration are dry, the pots are bisque fired, coated with a clear glaze, and fired to a mid-range stoneware temperature (cone 6) in an electric kiln, which preserves the color of the underglazes and creates ware that is safe for use in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher.