Siegele & Haley Pottery

Susy Siegele and Mike Haley have been working with colored clay since 1976 when they became interested in developing clay bodies in a range of hues and shades while studying with ceramicist and sculptor J. Brough Miller at Texas Woman’s University. Haley did his master’s thesis utilizing colored clay in raku firing, while Siegele was experimenting with a series of colored porcelain bodies for high-fired work while she worked on her undergraduate degree.

These early experiments led to the development of the distinctive colored porcelain dinnerware that continues to be the mainstay of their pottery studio on Buzzard Mountain in the Ozarks hills of Northwest Arkansas.

Nearly all of their work is slab-constructed, although they spent a couple of years in the late 1970s doing wheel-thrown wood-fired pieces while Haley was employed at Old City Park, a living-history museum in Dallas, Texas, recreating late-nineteenth-century salt-glazed utilitarian ware. Siegele and Haley are still under the influence of wood-firing: in their current work, wood is added as a fuel during the last twelve or fourteen hours of each firing, from roughly 1600°F through 2400°F. This is to take advantage of the effects of the fly ash on the porcelain surface, and for the even temperature distribution and rich reduction that results from wood-firing.

Siegele and Haley use metallic oxides that are put into the porcelain clay body. After a few months of aging, these different-colored bodies are stacked, sliced, extruded, or otherwise manipulated into patterned loaves that weigh up to a hundred pounds. These large loaves are then sliced into thin slabs, revealing the pattern. From these thin slabs, Siegele and Haley make platters, bowls, and teapots using balloons, rolling pins, and various hand tools.

In 1993, they were selected by the director of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery to donate a representative piece of their colored porcelain to the White House Collection of American Crafts, first exhibited in National Museum of American Art in Washington DC and later at the American Craft Museum in New York, and other major museums around the country.

Siegele and Haley have been featured in Studio Potter magazine and in the book Clay and Glazes for the Potter by Robin Hopper. Their story was profiled in Hopper’s book Staying Alive, published in March 2003. In British potter Jo Connell’s 2007 book Colouring Clay, Siegele and Haley’s color clay work was included as one of two American clay artists chosen to represent colored clay work in the U.S. In addition, Siegele’s tilework was included in 500 Tiles, published by Lark Books in 2007. And, when Gerald Carr, the commander of Apollo 12 mission, needed gifts for all the Soviet cosmonauts who had orbited the earth, he came to Siegele and Haley.