By Vendor > Cherie Ramsdell Pottery
Cherie Ramsdell Pottery
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I am native South Dakota artist. My work reflects the essence of the western lifestyle, and the country that nurtures that lifestyle. The experience of being a rancher's daughter has molded my artistic direction. I have lived outside of South Dakota, too, but the open spaces of the prairie have always called me home. Riding and breaking horses has created an obsession for this animal. There was a perfect unity between my obsession with horses and clay when I discovered horsehair pottery. As I describe my work and its evolution, this western lifestyle will be evident.
During work on my Masters degree I fell in love with clay, especially in the raku process. I loved the spontaneity of it and the variation of color. I was especially addicted to the firing process. Every time I fired, it was like Christmas. Each piece was a gift. Over a period of time however, I became stagnant. I traveled to the Southwest with a friend on a spiritual journey (if you will). In Santa Fe I viewed my first piece of horsehair pottery, a poured mold piece with strong black lines on a white, glazed surface.
I broke several pots in an effort to discover the process and clay that would work for me. Now, my own works are primarily hand thrown pieces. The forms are sanded or burnished to achieve a soft, tactile, natural feel. Each vessel is branded with the kiss of smoke and the black lines of the hair. Friends say my work reminds them of electricity or a lightening storm. My work is meant to be touched as well as viewed. I finish my work by applying pure beeswax to the surface. I believe this maintains its natural soft feel.
After experimenting with horsehair it became my goal to use additional materials and artifacts native to South Dakota. I employed the help of a family friend who works for the Badlands National Park. He collects the hair from the rubs of the wild buffalo in the park. I use this hair to fire with.
In addition to using native firing materials such as horse and buffalo hair I add artifacts to the piece. These include the deer antler sheds, driftwood collected from the Missouri River and rocks gathered while searching for Fairburn agates in the Black Hills. I want my work to reflect and honor the rugged landscape and lifestyle of South Dakota. I want it to embody and honor the resilience and power of the creatures that live on the plains and hills.
On a personal note:
I am passionate about horses and pottery. It is when I am most content. Training horses requires dedication, repetition, experimentation, and perseverance. Horses are willful and independent. This is true often of clay. I can guide its path but not force its direction.