The Little Mulberry Creek is more than just a charming name for one of the many beautiful nature nooks hidden in the Ozarks of Arkansas; there is also a charming life hidden on this spring fed watering hole. And the life here is filled with pots and art.
We don't live on the Little Mulberry Creek, but in some ways it has become a second home. When you graduate from an undergrad degree in ceramics, you don't know enough or have enough to completely be on your own. It's cliche to say but pottery really is a lifetime of learning. The tradition of apprenticeships is always something I've greatly respected. There is so much to learn about ceramics techniques and processes and a school setting is a good place to begin learning these, but school can't teach you what your life will be like as a potter. There is so much to acquire and most of these require a somewhat permanent home or studio space. There is so much practice and failure and organization and business. Potter's find a way to balance all of these, over their years. My undergrad instructor, Stephen Driver--now retired from teaching but still making pots-- lives on this beautiful creek in Northwest, AR and I'm constantly admiring the life and home he has built for himself and very greatful to still be learning from him.
We are unofficial long distance (2.5 hr drive) apprentices, trying to gain experience to take back to our own home and studio. Our most recent trip to Steve's was to fire our work in his fast fire wood kiln, but he is in the process of building an anagama kiln which will encourage even more community among potters in the region.
LUXURIES -- Garden Grown and homebrewed
I think all would agree that the best part about the visit is always the amazing food, usually prepared by Louise with goodies from her garden and served with Steve's homebrewed beer. After browsing the gallery of Steve's work downstairs and following the woven tapestries, paintings, and prints all the way upstairs to the Maurice Sendak drawing at the top, I look through the kitchen and dining areas trying to find new pots I've not noticed before, asking who made each. Meal time is always interesting for us as guests picking our cup from the cabinet and selecting our spot at the table based on the plate or bowl we fancy most. Sometimes there may be a wooden spoon at one of the spots and always colorful napkins to accessorize the printed table cloth. At night there is only candle light and in the day, there is a bright room with sunlight making its way in through a wall of windows and hummingbirds eating just outside.
(Below is a picture of the table as it is being set for lunch the day I returned to unload the kiln and bring our work back home)
Some recent work from Steve's kiln.
If you would like more information about the generous couple and artists Stephen Driver and Louise Halsey (whose studio and home we borrow to complete our wood fired work)
are interested in getting involved in future community firings or visiting their gallery and studio.