Come on into Mary Harding's Studio.
Mary is our BOC Spotlight Artist for April. Mary lives in upstate New York and her business is called Mary Harding Jewelry.What a lucky clay gal Mary is to have this marvelous remodeled barn studio. She says she works alone but her husband does have a workshop space here as well.
Mary has worked in clay since 1998 and she prefers earthenware clay. She fires her pieces at Cone 06 and has two digital kilns. Mary has the following to say about her firing process, " I make my pieces in a traditional fashion. The only difference is that I usually fire my pieces three times and all at cone 06. I do the bisque firing, then if I am using stains, I fire the stained pieces then I hand paint the pieces and glaze them and fire them again. Quite a few years ago, I fired my pieces up to four times adding coats and coats of stain as I went along. Since the stain smears easily, I found that firing the pieces with the stain was more successful for my methods."
When Mary searches for her muse, she finds it in nature. She lives in the country and she goes for walks in the pastures and woods.We have seen that natural beauty in her plant themed pendants.
As to who influenced her, Mary lists Melanie Brooks and her teacher Ann Burnham. She credits Beads of Clay as being a big influence in introducing her to clay talk and technique.
Mary sells her charming pieces mostly on her website and in her ETSY shop. She also has work in several local shops as well as selling at her local arts council annual studio tour and at a local crafts show.
The following tips from Mary will be very helpful to new clay artists. She suggests becoming a member of the Beads of Clay Yahoo group and website. Talk to other artists, look at their work and develop your own style.
As to Mary's favorite piece of equipment, she loves the slab mats from Bailey's that she cuts up into small pieces. She also uses a plaster board for drying and a small toaster oven with a small piece of plaster board in the tray to hurry up the drying time. Mary says that the pieces stay flatter if she dries them this way. She usually lets them dry for 24-48 hours on the plaster board covered with a loosely draped piece of thin plastic. Once they are hardened they do very well in the toaster oven. She turns it up to about 200 degrees and turns it off and waits 30 minutes and does this several times. Then she flattens the bottoms on a screen and uses a fine sponge to smooth off all the edges and then back into toaster oven. Later she fires the pieces.
I want to thank Mary for this interview and for her generosity of spirit in helping other clay artists.