Frank Philipps Pottery History

Intrigued with the creative potential and the physical challenges of making pottery, my career started with intensive pottery workshops, and  included a four year apprenticeship. I found expert direction, inspiration, and an enduring love for the process of making pots in these workshops.

As a student at Pond Farm, over the course of my four summers, Bauhaus master potter, Marguerite Wildenhain, taught her students the process of making pottery and showed us how to begin to think and live as an artist. She was able to do this drawing upon on her own Bauhaus learning experiences, her European further training, and 50 years rich with the experience of producing beautiful expressive pottery and teaching pottery making in the summer.

I worked on a kick wheel through those four years of my apprenticeship. The simplicity and rigor of the kick wheel teaches one the appropriate speed for each operation of the throwing process. The kick wheel experience was fundamental to my education as a throwing potter. I used the kick wheel in my studio for another two years, then transferred to an electric wheel. My electric wheel offered a speed controller with the close feel of a kick wheel and it increased my productivity, making it possible to earn a decent living in the 20th. and 21st. century.

I finished my apprenticeship in 1979 and I began participating in arts and craft fairs in Oregon, California, Washington, Arizona and Nevada. My wife and I enjoyed the travel and soon had an annual route doing eight to ten fairs a year along with some wholesale accounts at a few select galleries. "Nimbus" in our hometown of Ashland, Oregon was  our first gallery and currently maintains a large display. along with two other Oregon galleries  We had consistent success with fairs for over 25 years and still have standing invitations to return to many as a "Hall of Fame" exhibitor. During this time, we opened our first store location in Ashland, which became home to our pottery and the fine arts and crafts of several friends whose work we much admired while traveling the fair circuits. The store moved to three different locations in Ashland and grew progressively larger in floorspace with each move over the next sixteen years.

In January, 2010, we closed our downtown gallery and moved our pottery to the Internet and to four Oregon galleries. 

I have, with the help of my former apprentice Jon Winter, rebuilt my Olsen "24" Kiln that had been in use for thirty five years and had over 1000 plus firings with more than 140 tons of clay passing through it. It is revitalizing to return to the root beginning and rebuild with the experience of 38 years of pottery making!

It would be nice to have another 38 see if I could wear the kiln out again!

I continue to make pots daily and feel more excitement for the process than ever: it is all so very interesting, and there still is much to learn. 

Several years ago I  started doing two day seminars in the form of demonstrations and conversations about living and working as a potter. It is something I find very enjoyable and I am always looking for teaching opportunities of this sort. 

Making pottery as a skilled craftsman in the 21st century is not an easy task to which one dedicates one's life. But, Marguerite's expressive and imaginative pottery, her wonderful teaching methods, her humanity, and her personal dedication to the making and teaching of pottery has given to me enduring strength and inspiration for more than 40 years. I continue to draw from this deep well of experience, enjoy the support of my family, friends, and the many customers who take delight in the pots I am able to make.

Thank you for your continued interest in my development as a potter and my pottery, I always strive to improve and understand as much as I am capable of absorbing. There really is no limit to the study of a this interesting subject pottery.


Frank Philipps