Ray Bogle

How I became a Potter.....

I’ve been working with clay and making pots as a hobby for almost 30 years now. Throughout that time I’ve made all kinds of things – some pieces just for the fun of it. Others were sold at craft shows. Some were sold through this website and some on eBay.

Along the way, I’ve taught classes and explored different methods of glazing and firing. At the present time I find my efforts focused on further refining my skills through advanced exploration of throwing, glazing and firing pottery.

I first discovered “clay” while attending Sunnyvale High School in California back in 1979. I realized that I needed some extra credits to graduate and Ceramics sounded more appealing than Biology. I took the class, made the required number of lop-sided pots and received a passing grade giving me sufficient credits to graduate! Then, within eight hours of my high school graduation I headed off to Basic Training in the U. S. Air Force.

Later that year, while I was staying in a dormitory room during my technical training, I discovered the Arts and Crafts Center on base. To my surprise, they had several potters’ wheels that hadn’t been used in years. Guess what? I found that I could still throw a pot! As a result, I filled much of my spare time on base at that old wheel – making pots.

Upon completion of my training, I was assigned to George Air Force Base in California. Again, I found myself in a dorm with little to do in my spare time and, again, there was an Arts and Crafts Center on base with several potters’ wheels. By this time I had increased my skills significantly – enough so that my pieces could actually be used. A market existed there of people who wanted to buy them! I was approached by the director of the Center and asked if I would teach my first pottery class. That’s how I spent the remainder of my time there – regularly teaching classes and selling enough pottery to pay for my hobby.

In 1981, I was assigned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland (near Washington, DC). And guess what? I was in the dorm, didn’t have much to do, and they had just built a brand new Arts and Crafts Center! Once again, they had potters wheels and no one was using them, so…. I started making pots, teaching classes (including some Raku classes) and formally began selling some pots at the annual craft fairs.

It was around that time period that the thought occurred to me that I was becoming a “Potter”. I was fortunate enough to remain at Andrews AFB for the duration of my military career, from which I retired in 1999. I am grateful for the fact that my skills as a potter evolved during the time I spent there. I began to experiment more with Raku firing and found that I really enjoyed the unique results of each individual piece.

In June of 2006, I became a member of the CalvART Cooperative Art Gallery located in Prince Frederick, Maryland. I have been involved in art shows and workshops through the gallery. Being a part of the local clay/artist community has been a fantastic experience. I learn and grow as an artist from working with the warm and sharing members.

In 2013, I became a member of the Cox Art Center in Huntingtown, Maryland, where I had a small studio space. This afforded me time to interact with the community and talk with people about my work and how it is created. That year, I also built my first gas kiln and began to explore making functional stoneware work, particularly in the tradition of the Japanese potters.

In 2016 I began teaching handbuilding and wheel classes in my studio for the College of Southern Maryland, Personal Enrichment Program.  This has been a fun and challenging adventure learning new skills and managing the flow of student work through the studio.

My evolution as a Potter has been marked by periods of feast and famine in terms of production. There have been extended periods of time that, for one reason or another, I didn’t make much pottery. Other times were so productive that I had pots piling up everywhere! I consider it a blessing that no matter what obstacles life throws at me I always find myself back to fulfilling my passion… back to the Clay! In fact, I still use the old second-hand Shimpo wheel, which was my first piece of equipment I ever purchased way back in 1983!

Many years have passed since I first held a piece of clay but I find myself deeper in clay than ever before. I’ve become a Potter. I’m beginning to look forward to retirement and the ability to do more and more work with clay for the rest of my years.

Fast forward to 2019……Clay continues to be important in my life as I officially move away from my “real job” in IT and open up a new chapter where I no longer have to “FIx Things” but can devote my full attention to clay.  I’m now able to offer classes/workshops on weekdays!  And, I can begin to think about looking for another gallery or two to display my work.  Looking forward to the future….