name to read)
Tom....thank you so much for the three
amazingly educational days that I spent at the workshop you
offered Bill and myself. Your knowledge of the art and
craftsmanship of pottery is astonishing. But what was so obvious
is what an excellent teacher you are. You took the time to
demonstrate and then to observe closely what I was doing and
able to tell and show me what I could do to improve my work. I
have not had the privilege of having such observed and detailed
feedback on my work. I learned about so many of the aspects of
pottery - from throwing, trimming, developing and changing
glazes to suit ones own work and firing not to mention
aesthetics and form for which you have a talent and passion.
Thank you for your patience and time. Also, the collection that
you have acquired over the years served as an excellent teaching
tool along with your comments on the pots, the age of the
creation of the work and all the other details about the history
of pottery that you provided. I loved working with your
porcelain. I am looking forward to receiving my order of your
porcelain from Standard. I hope you will take the time to make
more videos and write about the many and varied aspects of
pottery and porcelain in particular so that others can benefit
from your knowledge, experience and years of hard work. Again,
thank you for such a growth providing experience. Yasmin
Thank you for sharing your
extraordinary experience and knowledge with me for the three
days in beautiful autumn Mars Hill. It was good timing for my
skill level as I was able to appreciate the subtleties of form
and decoration we discussed at length. Our little pot made it
home safely and I will keep it in my studio for reference and
inspiration. Thanks also for the tour of your vast collection.
Staggering. I look forward to digging into your porcelain in the
Again, thank you for the instruction and for
sharing your studio with me. I got settled in at home after your
workshop and finally got to work with your porcelain. It is
luscious. Period. I pulled a fairly narrow 4 pound bowl based
cylinder and kept widening and widening, sure it was headed for
a collapse. It didn't. What fun!
Last month I took a trip to
North Carolina for the opportunity to study at Tom Turner’s
studio in Mars Hill. We spent three days talking pots and
studying his extensive museum caliber collection, as well as
playing with his amazing porcelain. Tom is a masterful teacher
with a collector’s vast knowledge of pots and their makers. He
challenged us to question our sources and allow our personality
and spirit to add depth and individuality to our pots. He pushed
us to know our intent each time we sat at the wheel, and to seek
the finest level of detail and finish on each aspect of making.
His technical expertise, knowledge and skill in working with
porcelain were top-notch. He left us inspired, wiser for our
time with him, and with much to ponder. Holly McKeen,
www.greendalepottery.com, Chilliwack BC.
Thanks again for a great learning
I hope it was a good learning experience for you also.
Your ability to patiently work with a variety of skill levels
the needs of each student on an individual basis speaks well of
reflects you previous teaching experience.
Having the opportunity to view and examine close up your vast
pottery was almost worth the price of the workshop itself. The
see examples of what you are discussing at any given time is
best reinforcement for the student.
I highly recommend the entire experience.
It's certainly not your typical workshop.
The individual attention, the masterful demonstrations, Tom's
pottery, his porcelain and the motivation to achieve all add up
experience that should not be missed.
Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean
Northern Virginia Community College
I had the pleasure of spending three days with you in April,
2009. I enjoyed the information sharing immensely. It is hard to
put into words exactly what the three days of demonstrations,
hands-on learning, and unending answered questions means to me.
As you know, I am just starting out with ceramics at the age of
51 and feel the need to learn from the most knowledgeable and in
the most efficient way possible. Having the undivided attention
of someone that has spent so many years perfecting his craft was
priceless. I gained a wealth of information, and I feel very
"centered" in my goals and objectives for myself in this field
You are someone that my 80year old mother would describe as
"down to earth." It is true that the teachers who are the most
confident in their own field are the ones who exchange
information to eager learners with ease and respect. No question
of mine was considered unworthy of your time. Your "attention to
detail" goes way beyond your ceramics expertise. You paid close
attention to my current level of abilities and understanding of
the process and adjusted every aspect of your teaching to meet
my individual needs. For a student to get just what they need at
the point they need it is, in my opinion, attention to detail at
I would recommend your individualized classes to anyone at any
level of learning. Even as a beginner, I can easily recognize
your master skill. The large collection of pottery that you have
gathered over the years and your knowledge of the different
potters and time periods are astounding. You hold in your mind
and inside your studio so much to share with those willing to
accept your gracious teaching. Thank you for the awesome
With the combination of the instruction and the porcelain, I
was able to throw higher and better than I ever have. Not only
did my hands get better, but my eye for pottery also got better
thanks to your knowledge and library of pots. Thanks for making
me a better potter.
I attended a 3
day workshop with Tom after hearing from numerous potters that
the experience would be well worth it. I went into it hoping to
learn a few new tricks to improve my throwing, and hoping to
remedy a few bad habits that I knew I had fallen into, but
couldn’t seem to shake. What I got out of the workshop was much
more than I had hoped for. Not only did he give me some great
coaching that helped me to remedy the areas that I knew I was
weak, but he helped me to identify and correct more subtle
problems as well.
An unexpected bonus that I got out of my workshop was the fact
that Tom got me to slow down. As a working mother, I try to be
as efficient as possible at pretty much everything I do, and
this philosophy was spilling over into my pottery. Tom helped me
to remember that for me, pottery is a time to relax and really
enjoy myself – to “walk behind the turtle” as he says. I’ll be
honest, slowing down was not an easy thing for me, but since I
have, I’ve found a new peace and calm when I throw that I had
lost along the line.
Since my workshop, I am making nicer shapes with lovely thin
walls, and having far fewer failures. Most importantly, though,
I am enjoying pottery much more now than I was before. Because
of what I had heard about Tom, I had high expectations of him,
and he gave me far more than I had anticipated! I have no
trouble at all recommending this workshop – you won’t be
Marie Wright, California
My name is Mike Oliver, I’m the studio
manager at the Sioux City Art Center clay studio and I’d like to
tell you about my visit to Tom Turner’s studio for three days of
lessons this past January. I went there hoping to improve my
throwing skills and maybe learn a little bit about glazing that
would help me do the studio manager job a little better.
I got a lot more than I had hoped for. I spent about half my
time there practicing throwing with Tom looking over my
shoulder. If it sounds a little intimidating to throw with a
master observing, it’s not. Tom is a teacher, not a critic, and
he is a very good teacher. If you don’t get what he’s trying to
tell you, he’ll find another way to put it until you do. He’s
very patient and really wants to help you improve. From throwing
to trimming to structure to just different ways to think about
what you’re doing, Tom shares with you from a huge wealth of
knowledge and experience.
I’ve had a chance to come home and put what I learned into
practice and my pots are night to day better than they were. I
learned tips about glazing and ways to adjust glazes that have
me looking forward to opening every kiln I fire. Several glazes
we had problems with are no longer problems.
I also got a special bonus. Tom loves what he does and I came
home more excited about working in clay than I had been anytime
since I took my first clay class in college in 1972. It’s been
four months now and I’m still excited.
Once I get everything I learned worked into what I do, I’ll
probably want to go back and take Tom’s class again. I have no
doubt that I could take his class half a dozen times and make a
big jump forward every time. Besides, I had a lot of fun while I
If you enjoy making pots, give yourself a great gift and go take
a class from Tom.
After several years of working
outside the clay world, I currently have the opportunity to
return to studio ceramics. My interest in porcelain directed me
to the work of Tom Turner. In hopes of accelerating my learning
curve, I signed up for Tom’s three day workshop at his studio in
Mars Hill, NC. A truly beautiful location in the hills north of
One immediately encounters Tom’s amazing collection of
Contemporary, Traditional American folk pottery, and Asian
ceramics. His passion for collecting is enhanced by his
forty-seven years of experience in clay. Tom’s vast web of
knowledge overlaps with personal connections with luminaries
such as Otto and Vivika Heino, Ralph Bacerra, Tatsuzo Shimaoka,
Dave Shaner, and Don Reitz, just to name a few. Tom’s elegant
forms with their outstanding glazed surfaces are also available
The studio sessions with Tom covered all aspects of the ceramic
process from throwing and altering forms, to making lids, spouts
and handles, as well as discussions on glazing, testing and
firing. Areas of personal interest were investigated in depth.
Examples from the collection aided in further dialogs in regards
to aesthetics. Tom's specially developed porcelain clay body was
responsive and devoid of typical porcelain challenges such as
slumping. The porcelain was quite enjoyable to work with and
effortless to throw.
North Carolina’s rich tradition of ceramics continues to thrive
throughout the state. I’m most grateful for the suggested
artists, potteries, galleries and museums to visit while I was
in the area. This experience has certainly strengthened my
skills, but more importantly opened up many new arenas to
investigate for future inspiration.
Last night I returned from Tom Turner's for some one on one
instruction over the last 3 days. It's truly amazing what bad
habits can be formed and not seen until you're sitting in front
of a 45+ year potter. After overcoming those obstacles, a whole
new light was shed on attention to detail and aesthetics. He
just does it naturally without thinking and it makes such a
difference in his pots. I was becoming bored with my pots and
have to assume my customers were as well. If nothing more, I
became very motivated while there. I went to the studio this
morning and spent the entire day analyzing my small tools,
stamps, glazes and processes deciding what to keep and what
needs a change. Tom is a great source of knowledge in all
aspects of the ceramic industry. One thing I liked was when I
walked in each morning; Tom would ask me what I wanted to do.
He's there to teach you what YOU want to learn. I chose
to spend much of my time just talking with him. The history and
stories are worth it all. Speaking of history, Tom has a
collection of pottery that everyone should see as it's truly
amazing. His studio is up on a mountain and is so serene and
peaceful that the only thing we heard were locusts. If you have
the chance or desire to visit with Tom, I highly recommend you
do. I'm hoping to utilize what I have learned and hopefully make
another trip back in the fall or next spring.
My studio is now divided into BT pots and AT pots, that's Before
Turner and After Turner. A huge difference. I took most of my BT
unfired pots and threw them in recycle. After my days with you
they aren't worth firing. The BT bisque pots will be used for
glaze testing and line blends.
I loved your glaze room and all the test tiles.I am delighted
that the glaze firing I witnessed turned out so well. I learned
a lot because the oxyprobe readings were questionable so you
relied on the look of the flames and the smells coming from the
peeps.My thrown cylinders are getting better, and ribbing them
out to fuller shapes with even walls is progressing nicely.
Throwing in series as a design and learning tool is proving to
be very enlightening. I am spending more time in the studio
(with my business phone close at hand) and less time in the
office - series throwing is that addictive.
Your porcelain continues to perform beautifully, even as
The poster you signed is now hung at the Corcoran School of Art
and Design. It looks great and the signature is drawing
additional attention.Thanks again for boosting my aspirations in
porcelain by a quantum amount. I had a wonderful time.
Good Morning Tom!
I've had a couple of weeks for my mind to absorb the information
I learned in your workshop. Since the workshop I've had time to
work on my own and watch my mindset changing. And believe me, at
this stage of life with 30 years of throwing pots, change ain't
easy. I have bad habits, but I realize that I have some pretty
good ones, too. As you say, I'm a better potter than my pots
From wedging, to throwing, to finishing, there are even minute
changes I've made that allow me to make more distinctive pots.
Or, as you say, pots with "intention". Intention indicates
thinking, planning, and aesthetic awareness. Your vast eclectic
collection of pottery was integral to the study of the anatomy
of pots. Having those fabulous examples of work, including your
own, was truly instructive in helping me better understand
structures from rims to lids to handles, to the relationship of
all these parts. Sometimes after throwing pots for a long time
it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, i.e. the
relationship of the foot to the rim, the handle to the mug, or
the lid to the shoulder of the jar.
The best way to pull oneself out of the ruts of habitual and
complacent work is to have an objective, accomplished, and
forthright perspective for guidance. Our discussions on form and
the function of pots as well as working with the porcelain
renewed my perspective and provided new challenges. Even though
the instruction was specific to porcelain, I have gained skills
that I can apply to any clay body. I look forward to developing
and fine tuning my work.
And, Thank you, Tom!
As a potter for 18 yrs I recently decided to think about
changing from a raku/stoneware potter to a porcelain potter. I
had always been
a huge fan of Tom Turner and decided to visit his Mars Hill NC
studio/school. Tom charges his students a modest fee for 2 full
days of whatever you want to do. Talk, make pots ect. I was
lucky enough to catch him when he was firing his geil kiln
porcelain with copper reds/flambe. It was an incredible
experience. I feel you can always use a new perspective
and learn something new even if you have years of experience.
Tom has 45 years experience and his work is incredible. He
has so many incredible potter friends and stories that I could
have stayed much longer and learned something new everyday.
You know a potter still has his spark when he wakes up at the
crack of dawn to peak inside the kiln when it is hot. I would
recommend Tom's school to any beginner or advanced potter who
doesn't have a lot of time or money
I really felt it was worth every penny. One night Tom took me
out to see the surrounding towns that are full of galleries and
college students. His place is 30 minutes from Penland.
Apparently there are 150 potters in the area. When Tom runs into
college students he usually invites them to visit his studio
which I thought was an amazing offer. The college kids reply was
something like. "Thanks, but I have lots of potter friends."
This I found amazing because living in New York is totally
different. If I mention that I am a potter, people usually look
at me like I have two heads. What's a potter? You mean you smoke
pot? Of coarse I find this equally irritating as Tom must find
these student potters in NC. If Tom approached me with an invite
I would certainly take it. I will never forget waking up early
and removing one of those
red pots from the kiln and holding it close for warmth in the
morning chill. What an experience.
It was an
incredible experience to spend two days with you in your
beautiful mountaintop home and studio. Your generosity and
hospitality made my husband and I feel comfortable and exceeded
every expectation we had for the class and trip to North
Carolina. The wonderful dinner and trip to Penland for the
opening were certainly beyond anything we imagined and were so
much appreciated. The time we spent with you went by so quickly
yet was packed with so much information and great experiences,
that it will take some time to absorb it all.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to take this class with
you individually and to have been able to use the time we had to
view your remarkable collection and slides. I greatly
appreciated the critique of my work and suggestions for
improvement. The history, and meaningful discussions, along with
observing you throw and finish your work was an extraordinary
experience. It was an amazing opportunity to watch a master at
work and to be able to see the nuances in the level of detail
and maturity in your work. I'm so glad that you were willing to
sit and throw all afternoon on Friday so I could closely observe
your techniques and how much further you take each piece than I
do. It gives me something to strive for in my own pottery with
new insight and vision. I'm anxious to get back to my studio
this week and begin that process.
I would highly recommend your class to fellow potters, and hope
to come back again in the future.
I finally got back into the studio yesterday and had
a great day applying the techniques I learned during our class.
I was able to throw larger fuller forms than I ever have in the
past. The throwing techniques such as opening wider, starting
with the donut shape, and expanding the shoulder then bringing
the lower portion out to meet it were amazingly helpful in
expanding my forms. Starting with the wider foot and bringing it
in as I did each successive pull really helped to stabilize the
larger form, and I still ended up with the narrow foot that I
like. I also threw lids using the techniques you demonstrated. I
am so glad you demonstrated as much as you did on the second day
of class. I learned so much by watching you work, and the photos
helped me remember the techniques and detail.
With high regards,
|Thank You...for the wax
resist... for the opportunity to talk with Nan McKinnell and see
the video... and being able to tell Bert how much i admire his
work... for all the lessons learned because of your coaching...
for allowing me to relax and feel so comfortable in your studio
and home... for dessert and coffee... for your patience as my
teacher... for seeming to understand where i am as a potter...
for trusting me... for the gallery opening... for a very
complete two day retreat. it was time and money so very well
spent. I believe that I am a better potter now. I believe that
all things happen for reasons far beyond our understanding...and
i am pretty amazed at the sequence of events that tied pots to
people to me through you. You are lucky i didn't steal the
Robineau book or the bowl :) i think they touched my soul
somehow. I am glad to have spent the time with you Tom... you
made a difference in my world.
I was looking for a diversion and a
reason to get out of Los Angeles; something fun, a new place to
explore, a possible new place to live with an added educational
bonus. My vacations are usually scheduled around workshops and
classes so an opportunity to study with a master porcelain
potter seemed perfect. I am a potter and sculptor but haven’t
had much experience with porcelain.
The time I spent with Tom Turner was fabulous beyond my wildest
dreams. My private lessons focused on the areas where I needed
the most help and I was able to learn about anything I wanted.
Our discussions about form and design produced many “Aha!”
moments. I saw the interrelationships of the diameters and lines
of a pot in new and different ways. I tried to absorb every bit
of information I could, watching and taking pictures of Tom
throwing for hours, trimming, making lids and handles. I
probably drove him a little crazy with my camera clicking almost
480 photos in only 2 days.
His huge museum quality collection of ancient and 19th and 20th
century pottery is beautiful and inspirational and the slide
shows were remarkable and wonderful to see. Tom put so much of
his energy and heart into this workshop and I appreciate all of
his efforts and boundless hospitality.
During the six days I was in the area, we drove out to a
friend’s house to see the huge wood-fired kiln containing three
months of work, there was a yummy potluck dinner and Tom baked a
delicious apple cream pie from scratch. On another day we had a
wonderful dinner at an eclectically decorated and colorful Greek
restaurant in Weaverville, we went gallery hopping in Asheville,
drove out to Penland School of Craft and saw resident artists,
Matt and Shoko, visited with long-time ceramic artist Norm
Schulman at his wonderful house and kiln in the beautiful North
I threw my share of countless pots and gleefully cut them in
half to see how I was progressing. Now that I am back in the
studio I can see a significant difference in my throwing and I
feel that I have improved a lot as I am applying the new
techniques Tom taught me.
I highly recommend Tom’s class to anyone wanting to expand their
throwing skills, see an impressive collection of ancient to
contemporary ceramics, hear rare ceramic tales from a master
potter and savor the rich North Carolina pottery and craft
tradition at the source. Thank you for an unforgettably
wonderful experience. You are a very skilled and patient
teacher. You were so nice, so thoughtful and such a good host. I
felt welcome and comfortable in your house and studio and it was
an honor to share that time with you.
WOW!! What a wonderful learning experience you provided for me.
With Thirty-four years of teaching behind me I can recognize a
fine teacher and you fit the bill. As an intermediate you
quickly identified my strengths and weaknesses and then the show
was on for two days of high intensity learning. It was great!
Not a minute was wasted at meeting my needs. Also, you furnished
the perfect environment including not only all the tools and
equipment needed but also an absolutely beautiful, serene
setting with virtually a museum of examples from which to study
form, surface, color and technique. I could easily follow your
organization and structure of content. The “attention to detail”
focus that was woven through out the two days made perfect
sense. At this time in my development of pottery skills it was
extraordinary to be able to study under a master artist. You
have saved me countless hours of trial and error. What a
priceless value for me.
The skills I learned were only part of the Tom Turner
experience. The blending of skills, aesthetics, and techniques
will serve to keep me focused on the pot as a whole. This goes
way beyond just form and function as most dwell on. Throughout
the two days both you and your collection spoke volumes on the
subject of what turns a pot into a real piece of art. And yours
are certainly art.
It was truly three fantastic days of immersion in pottery art,
materials, process and form. While I have had the opportunity to
visit a number of famous museums which had pottery, I never had
the curator take me on a guided tour and explain each piece and
allow me to hold some really great pieces of art. Your
collection is something that every aspiring potter (and some old
ones) should see.
Since I deal with scientists on a daily basis, I was amazed to
see how much of a scientist you are. Your constant reminders to
“pay attention to detail”; to “always be curious”; and to
“understand materials, process and form” are traits of a
scientist. I understand now what led you to test 175 clay
bodies, to develop your porcelain body, and to build your own
While you are a master thrower and have developed superb glazes,
your attention to detail is at its finest when you are trimming.
Your “awareness” is like the awareness in Zen. When you throw,
you throw; when you glaze you glaze; when you trim your trim.
You make trimming an art form. Nothing is hurried; the pot is
not ready until it has “look” and “feel” you want. The lip and
foot are often pieces of art unto themselves. The inside of your
lids are pots by themselves.
Tom, you have so much to offer and so willing to share that I
hope other people will take advantage of the opportunity to go
to your porcelain school (actually a university).
Associate Dean, College of Science
Tom Turner – Thanks
Thank you so much for helping me be more aware of the subtleties
that make a pot look and feel more professional.
Ever since I started working with clay 12 years ago, I’ve been
on a quest to find the perfect pot and to acquire the skill to
make it. Up till I met you, I’ve just taken baby steps in that
journey. But now I feel I’ve taken several giant steps in
correcting the flaws that you gently brought to my attention and
helped me correct. I know I’m a much better potter since I’ve
studied with you.
I just wanted to thank you for sharing with me your “secrets” to
throwing good pots. Since my pilgrimage to Mars Hill, my pots
have been taller, and my bases have needed less trimming. That’s
all because my walls are consistently thinner and stronger and
shape easier. They will now complement my crystalline glazes.
Every day since I returned home to work with my porcelain, I can
hear your voice telling me that if I pay more attention to
detail, the pots will automatically look more professional. So
if I try to get away with little “mistake”, I know that the flaw
will not go away. You’ve given me the confidence to wire a pot
in half and examine what needs to be improved. Each time I sit
down at my wheel, I get excited knowing I’m throwing better and
I’m practicing your techniques every day because I want to
return next year, ready to take more giant steps in my quest. I
also want to give you the satisfaction of knowing how much you
have helped me be a better potter.
All the best to you,
It has taken some time for me to digest all of the information I
took in over the three days I spent with you earlier this
summer. Like a dry sponge I listened, studied, and watched as
you gave as much knowledge and insight as my eyes and ears could
handle. Being able to directly apply that knowledge to a wheel
made it a great hands-on learning experience as well. The
surprise for me was that the "hands-on" portion of the class was
being able to look at, discuss, and touch the greatest pottery
collection I have ever seen. The challenge for me would be to
bottle everything I had learned and bring it back to Texas,
because I knew when I got back I was going to question my own
work in a big way.
Since your workshop my work has slowed down tremendously, but in
a positive way. I have to admit that over the past year or more
I think that making pots had become a numbers game for me.
Entering the studio, the craftsman in me would go on vacation
and put some rookie from finance in charge- "Let's see, we need
x number of widgets for the show next month priced at yada yada
yada." But thankfully, watching you work this summer I was
reminded of why I fell in love with making pots to begin with.
It seems that you spend just as much time with a handcup as you
would a large lidded vase. At whatever stage you are at with a
pot you devote as much skill and expertise necessary to make it
the best pot it could possibly be. The idea of making twelve
mugs is no longer present when I approach the wheel, but rather
"I'm going to throw one mug- the best mug I can make. If time
presents itself, I'll make another one."
I've had two firings since returning home with at least half the
space in both occupied by test tiles. Your attitude toward glaze
testing and construction has encouraged me to design my own set
of glazes and I realize that I can begin with line blending the
formulas that I already have. I'm also confident that with an
original set of glazes, not only will my understanding of the
materials be greater, but my connection to the process will be
stronger as well.
I've also been thinking about what you called "signatures". I've
been aware of every mark I make on a pot; every glaze line, lip,
spout, handle, and embellishment is equally important. I feel,
for the first time, that I am making my pots! I can't tell you
how much my work has changed since your class. I think the best
thing that happened was that I was able to strip away what I
didn't need and focus on what is truly important: craftmanship
and detail on each individual pot.
At a festival this past weekend, at least 7 people approached my
booth and said, "Oh my god... this is beautiful... Oh my God!!!"
It was truly the best show I've ever had, not in terms of sales,
but the response that I got from people was amazing. I can't
thank you enough for the insight that you gave me and the
inspiration to put it to use. I hope you are doing well and I'll
look forward to talking with you soon. Thanks again-
College Station, TX
When I arrived on Friday evening, met you and had the
opportunity to sort through your extensive collection of pots,
it became clear that this was going to be a special experience.
The weekend was a total emersion into the ceramic art world. So
much information was shared that it has taken me some time to
even begin to put my experience into words. My head is still
I was impressed with the skill and traditions of south eastern
potters. They produced some of the most beautiful, functional,
simple and unpretentious pots out of pure necessity. They were
definitely pots with intention. Seeing and holding pots from so
many different potters that I had read about was very
Your studio is a unique place for serious pottery students to
come and study all aspects of pottery making. Discussions about
the history and philosophy of working with clay preceded any
discussion on technique or material science. I think this is a
significant difference between your school and past short
workshops that I have taken.
In past workshops, the focus was on rushing through the steps of
forming, glazing, and firing so that one could leave with a
finished piece. In your school, the intention is not to leave
with a finished pot, but to leave with a wealth of information
that one can use to rise to the next level.
Thanks again Tom for sharing your knowledge and your time. I
would definitely recommend a trip to your studio to anyone with
a serious interest in pottery. I hope to come for another visit
in the near future.
Tom is an incredible
instructor. I had admired his work for many years, but now I am
able to admire his work and his teachings. I came to pottery at
36, which left me hunting avenues to learn. My first instructor,
Stephen Jepson had taught me a great deal, but now I had reached
a plateau in my work. It was moderately good, but inconsistent
and always just a bit off center. I realized that my real
problem was not moving forward, but needing to back up and learn
how to center completely. Tom was willing to work with me on all
aspects of my throwing. We discussed form, areas where my pots
were weak and really focused on making a good pot from beginning
to end. He explained the entire process more thoroughly then I
had found in any class, workshop or book. My work has already
improved a great deal. Thanks Tom and I will be back for more
classes as I have no doubt there is much more to learn.
I want to thank you for the personal instruction and the time
that you spent with me. It felt so much better to sit at the
wheel and throw with some needed direction. Mental blocks sure
can take you out of your game plan. Your new start and
dedication is just one of the many things I admire about you,
not to mention how you 'look' at a pot and the attention to
detail, which may be your mantra, but you do what you say. Your
thought process is remarkable and I am glad to have been a part
Talk to you soon,
Mossrock Studio & Fine Art Gallery
26002 Oakridge Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77380
Some time around 1980 I was at an art show in Maitland, FL and
this guy came up and looked at my pots and finally said, "I
really like the way you lap your casserole lids." I'm quite sure
that my jaw just about hit the ground because almost no one
knows about using valve grinding compound to make lids fit
perfectly. This person was Tom Turner and we talked awhile and
then he invited me to his house in Lake Mary, just north of
Orlando. The following Monday morning I was at his door to begin
what has become a great friendship. I was just amazed at the
pots that he had made. I thought at the time that they were so
beautiful that they could not have come from the physical plane
-- they must have somehow come from some astral place and
deposited themselves in Tom's house. I was tremendously inspired
by his work, and remain so to this day. He makes beautiful pots,
honest pots, pots that might take some knowledge to appreciate.
In 1981, I was teaching at Santa Fe CC in Gainesville, FL and
Tom came to do a workshop for my students. I was amazed by his
technique and the lightness of his pots, and also the forms, of
course. He has a really highly developed sense of form and
Some of his latest glazes are even crystalline in nature, though
they are not zinc crystals.
So this past weekend I drove up to Asheville, NC and took his
throwing course -- 2 days of lessons and, of course, just
palling around in the mountains and having fun. The highlight
for me was going to an auction and Tom won a pot that looks like
it might be a Hamada for 40.00. It was in a box with some awful
pots and a pair of slip cast bird salt and pepper shakers. I had
never been to an auction before so it was a really fun
experience for me. I-bid-25-willyougive-30.... stream of
consciousness auctioneer talk just made me smile from ear to
But the bottom line is that I was able to learn some things that
improved my throwing. I did not have to change everything, but I
did not learn correctly in the beginning so I had some bad
habits which were holding me back. We got those corrected and
Tom also showed me how to throw and coil porcelain for very
large forms. We also talked about my forms and how I might
improve them so it was a great time for me.
Tom also has an incredible pottery collection -- there have to
be well over 1000 pieces. For us crystal potters there were a
couple of Marc Hansen's and a couple of little David Snair's
along with a beautiful Tim Marcotte platter and a couple of
mine. But his collection is a compendium of World Ceramics, from
the Ming Dynasty to contemporary ceramics. There are two huge
Korean wine jars which are maybe 3 feet tall and 3 feet in
diameter. It is a resource that deserves a museum. It is worth
the price of admission to just see these amazing pieces. Plus
there are hundreds of books and show catalogs.
Does it sound like I am encouraging you to go? I am.
Especially if you are self taught in the throwing area. It's an
opportunity to be with someone who makes some of the best pots
around in a tiny class so you have lots of his attention. My
class was one on one, but classes are at most four on one.
I also came back with a nice pot. http://www.tomturnerporcelain.com/images/photos%20a/jan%2008%20firing/IMG_4923.JPG
For a look at Tom's web page go to www.tomturnerporcelain.com.
I just have to second everything John just said. Two years ago I
was looking for someone to help me move to the next level with
my throwing. You know, faster, thinner, lighter with better
form. Both John and Tom Coleman recommended Tom Turner.
This lady cannot type when someone is looking over my shoulder.
And I sure as heck had trouble throwing, even centering, with
someone evaluating my every move. But the one-on-one experience
I had with TomT as my tutor was well worth the trip and the
money. When I came home, I found my pots went from heavy to
light. He gave me the confidence to pull a wire through any pot,
even the "good" ones, to see what I did right and, most usually,
what improvements could be made.
John didn't mention the detail and perfection that makes each TT
pot unique, from the trimming on the foot to the pot shape
hidden inside each lid. I have two of his pots which I check
often to see if I could finish a lip, form a lid, or detail a
foot better. Tom throws so thin that most of his pots over 4lbs
are as translucent as the smaller ones. (I took a flashlight and
Tom also has a DVD set of one of his two day workshops
available. But the pilgrimage to Mars Hill is well worth it. He
is a gracious host. My husband joined us each night for dinner
and TT made both of us feel welcome and valued, as he showed us
the sights of Ashville.
I throw every day a litle bit better because I hear Tom's words
going through my head... and I have his pots and DVD's to guide
Maybe I'll even try to meet that 6lb challenge... during a blue
All the best,
I attended a hands-on workshop with Tom Turner. I would
recommend the workshop to any beginner or advanced student. Tom
is very good at both showing and describing throwing techniques.
I am totally blind, so I know I presented an unusual challenge
for Tom. He was really cool with my disability! He showed me his
extensive collection of valuable pottery and answered my
questions about color and form in a meaningful way. Since I
returned home, I feel that my work has gradually but steadily
improved. It takes a little while for new throwing habits to
become our own.
Thanks so much,