In order to get to know our artists a bit better, we are introducing a series of interviews with our current member artists.
Let us introduce Will Dickert. Will is a wood-fire potter, meaning he makes pieces that are meant to be fired in a kiln using just wood as the heat source. Wood ash swirls around wood kilns, ‘licking’ the pots and leaving surface marks that show how the flame and ash flew through the kiln. Placement of items in the kiln as well as type of wood and length of firing are just some of the ways Will can vary the finished surface of his pottery. Read on to see what Will has to say about his inspiration and methods:
Here is what Will Dickert had to say in his interview:
Can you briefly describe your background and education – where you grew up, college degree, family ties to art or clay?
I grew up in Bristol, Va. I attended UNC Asheville and received my BA in Ceramics and a NC Art Education license to teach art in public schools. My mother was an amazing artist and an arts advocate in our community and was my inspiration and motivation to pursue a life and career in the arts.
How did you first get involved in ceramics?
I took as much art as I could in grade and high school, attended camps and workshops and created on my own time all throughout my childhood. However, I did not take a ceramics course until I attended college and took an introductory ceramics course.
Could you describe what draws you to atmospheric firing?
I fire with wood. I love the physical and mental nature of using the kiln as a tool to decorate the work as opposed to relying on applied glazes, for example. There is a connection to the work all the way through the process that I find rewarding and challenging.
Can you talk about your process, especially your firing process?
I fire with wood and load my work to reflect and capitalize on that. I use very few glazes and an array of slips on stoneware forms. The work is then packed taking special care to create dynamic flame movement and marking. The kiln is fired for anywhere from 24 hours to 4 or 5 days, depending on design and aim. I make work that will reflect not only my artistic vision, but also an understanding of how the work will respond to the firing method I use.
Do you prefer making functional ceramics or larger, sculptural pieces?
I enjoy making pots, and that is my aim. I make both large and small scale work, but my main goal is to make forms that lend themselves well to the firing method I use. I make pots to fit the kiln and relate spatially to each other.
How many hours in a week are devoted to your artwork? How much of that do you spend on marketing vs. making?
I tend to work at least 40 hours a week, but during busy times, I work up to 70 hours a week in my pottery. I try to spend some time each week on social media promotion, answering emails and tending to tax and accounting responsibilities. I enjoy making, but I also have a significant amount of time spent in wood preparation, and kiln maintenance as well.