Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Potter With a Heart for Christ

This is a slight departure from the norm for me as all the "Beauties" I have shared before are personal friends whom I have known and loved for a while.  Each have had a unique impact on my life.

I met Susan only a short time ago and not in person but on Instagram, of all places.
I don't recall how I first saw her pictures there, but it didn't take me long to follow her and anticipate her postings.  She told me that in less than a month of opening her account, she already had over 1000 followers.

You see, Susan is a potter and she posts pictures of her beautiful works on SusanBassPottery, and it didn't take long before I was captivated with every thing she did.  Then I began to notice she also attached a scripture with each piece of art work.  I knew I wanted to know more about this potter with a heart for Christ.

I contacted her and asked if I could share her story and she so graciously agreed. I know you will not only appreciate her beautiful works of art, but also the beautiful person who creates them.

Susan Bass
Following is Susan's story in her own words.  You will understand why I didn't try to paraphrase.

HOW I GOT STARTED
 I was a stay at home mom with three kids and my two sons would be graduating high school and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.  My daughter would be entering Jr. high and the elementary school years would be over.  So I began praying for the Lord to reveal His will for my life.  And that very day my daughter and I drove past a house that had a sign in the front that said "Art Show," so we stopped and it was a potter's house.  He made these amazing large pots.  They were beautiful!  He gave us a tour of his studio and showed us the kiln he built.
The next day I woke up thinking of that pottery studio.  I began reading my Bible like I did every morning.  I prayed and then just flipped through pages of scripture and just randomly started reading.  There was the word "pottery" in bold literally floating off the page!  Yes, pottery was levitating and I thought it was a trick on my eyes.  I thought I was going crazy!  Just a couple hours later my friend texts me and asks me if I want to take a ceramics class with her at the high school!  I hadn't talked to her in a week so she couldn't have known. 
That began my journey. I started pottery at the high school and I remember walking into that studio totally broken because my mother’n’law had just passed away. I sat at that wheel and felt peace. Every Wednesday night I spent hours just trying to center the clay. The high school teacher found out I had a daughter in 6th grade and he suggested I teach pottery at her elementary school. He offered me free clay and firing for the kids... this would be a good advertisement for him because these kids would eventually end up at the high school. Within just a few weeks of starting pottery I was teaching it at the elementary school!
Then the school district cut the Adult Ed classes. During this time I was not 100% believing this whole pottery thing. Pottery is a huge endeavor! I was doing a lot of yoga at the time and had plans to open a ‘hot’ yoga studio in town. But the Lord kept encouraging me. One day I was driving to yoga and I was crying out to God about the direction of my life. Pottery still seemed so obscure. I was driving and crying out to God and this song comes on the radio and it was a Counting Crows song I’d never heard before so I'm weeping and listening and the lyrics said, ‘Hey, Mrs. Potter, don't cry, Hey, Mrs. Potter, I know why But, hey, Mrs. Potter, won't you talk to me.”
Wow! I was so amazed!
The high school class was about to end and I didn't know what to do about pottery. I was going to a Beth Moore bible study and the Holy Spirit seemed to talk to me through Beth. I remember Beth saying, “Don't give up till the Lord blesses you!” I had never told anyone in class about pottery, it just seemed too nuts. But a lady from bible study approached me and said’ “You should take a pottery class at Hancock College.” I was stunned! I said, “Why did you say that to me?” and she said, “Oh God told me too!”
That summer I took my first art class at the local community college, Ceramics I. For the last three years I have been a full time ceramics student. My skills have developed at an apparently super fast rate. My teacher says I am a prodigy. But I know it’s Jesus! Along the way the Lord has been encouraging me and given me over 40 pottery scriptures. He continues to stay at my side strengthening me during this most incredible journey of my life...pottery.
 I asked Susan where she gets her inspiration and she told me that she has always loved beautiful things and in fact took an interior design class in high school and loved it.  She was even accepted to the Art Institute of Dallas following high school but was encouraged to pursue a Business Degree instead, which she did but totally disliked the process.  She said she never took any more art classes after this and life took over.
Although she tried every craft out there from painting, mosaics, sewing, furniture refinishing, beading, jewelry making, and enjoyed all of it, she never really found her niche until God opened the door to pottery.
She gets her inspiration through interior design, architectural elements, (which you will see evidence of in her pieces) fabric and paper designs and jewelry.
"I am also inspired by the beautiful things in Solomon's temple," specifically the Biblical descriptions of the lamps, bowls, ladles, firepans, plates, etc. for the alter.  She says, "I am always inspired by the attention to detail and dedication in building the temple."

This large Porcelain Platter is her favorite piece.

Susan told me that she incorporates all of the crafts she's ever done as she weaves them into her pottery.  She calls herself  more like a "Martha Stewart" of pottery.

Susan's pottery is fired to what is called Cone 10 and it makes the most superior cookware.  They are all dishwasher, oven and microwave and safe and contain NO lead.  She tells me it is better than Le Creuset, William Sonoma, Corning Ware, etc because the kiln she uses (below) is fired to an extremely hot temperature - 2300 degrees and then the kiln is smoked and the oxygen reduced during the firing to achieve amazing colors.
"Last summer I went to a workshop and worked with a famous potter named Tom Coleman.  After that I began working exclusively with porcelain.  Then I went to a different kiln workshop with Tom and learned how to fire the small gas reduction kiln that I love!  In particular are two end table lights that are my favorite.  They are next to my bed.
 "I mix all my own glazes too and the kiln firing affects the color of the glazes so I have been especially happy with the glaze colors of the porcelain pieces that have come out of my kiln."
 

Susan was featured on the front page of the local paper a couple weeks ago for teaching ceramics at the local museum.  She says it was such an honor to be asked to participate in this.
 

 Susan is currently working on building up her inventory of porcelain pieces which she will feature on her website:  www.susanbasspottery.com
She hopes to have it up and going by this summer 2014.

But, in the meantime, if you are interested in contacting Susan you may do so by email:
sass3000@rocketmail.com

I love this bottle!
Susan said this piece is fired to 2300 degrees in a gas fired reduction kiln which makes all her wares stronger than ANY commercial pottery.  That is why her pottery makes the most excellent cookware.  It is certainly the most beautiful for sure.
Susan says she uses this lovely blue decanter and glasses all the time and is currently working on another set.  I love the handle on this piece.
Now, who would not love these dishes on her table every day?
Susan hand makes all her own glazes and has developed her own recipes. She says,
"This is my favorite glaze combo - White Icing with Copper trim!"
  Don't these dishes make a beautiful table setting?
Susan told me that on a recent trip to New York she noticed that water was often served from beautiful bottles.  So she created her own and uses them to serve water at her own table.  I love this idea and the bottle!  The gorgeous vase is also one of Susan's, needless to say.
Below are pictures of her cabinets  She made a complete set of matching dinnerware (dinner plates, salad plates and bowls) and makes just about every thing for the kitchen including casserole dishes.  There aren't any shown in these pictures because she has given them all away or sold them.
Susan does donate a lot of her pieces to charity and various organizations such as the food banks annual Empty Bowls fundraising and the local Meals on Wheels auction.
 
The following are some of my favorite pieces and Susan's as well.
 

"God's word is better than red ripe summertime strawberries!"
Handcrafted pottery into functional art. Serving platter: microwave, oven and dishwasher safe. "God's faithful love endures forever!"
Large wheel thrown stoneware bowl with handles and custom glazes. 20" diameter and 4" deep. Makes an excellent salad bowl! "God is Love!"
Okay, I'm ready to make a trip to California to meet this beautiful lady in person.  Any takers?

Remember:
sass3000@rocketmail.com

 Thank you Susan Bass for allowing me to feature you on
You truly exemplify
"Beauty Without Within!"
and have definitely made an impact on my life even from a distance.

3 comments:

  1. WOW! What an amazing story. Such a talented and gifted lady. I love how the Lord lead her to all of this. Her things are just beautiful! Thanks for sharing this, enjoy your day!

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  2. So beautiful!!!!! My stepdaughter has friends that do pottery & they send her the coolest mugs & plates every year - It makes me want to get my own collection.

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  3. How interesting and what gorgeous work. Great post!

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