About the potter- Jacquelyn Zajac
I work as an independent artist, having been mostly self taught, I did take a Ceramics course in the early 80s at the local community college, Niagara County Community College in Western New York. As soon as my hands touched the clay I knew that I would be working with clay the rest of my life. The clay felt so good and it was such fun making things from a lump of wet clay and turning them into pieces of art.
For a short time, I worked as an apprentice at Shiloh Pottery in Maryland with Ken Hankins, the owner, where I learned many valuable lessons about becoming a production potter and setting up a studio.
In the early 80s my husband and I purchased a small farm in Clarence, a quaint little town in Western New York, Black Creek ran through the property. Both the farm and Clarence were a great place to raise our family and became our home for the next 26 years. I set up a studio and started making and selling pottery there and we named the farm “Black Creek Farms and Pottery”. It was a wonderful setting for the pottery and herbs that we grew and sold over the years and for our children to grow up in.
The house, studio and buildings were set back 1700 feet from the road in the middle of the 35 acres and were accessible from a stone driveway that crossed over a 100 year old steel bridge over Black Creek. The stall area of the barn became the pottery studio, divided into spaces for throwing, hand building, extruding, glazing, shipping etc.; the milking room became the kiln room and a log cabin became a little display and selling area.
I started exhibiting at the local Art & Craft Shows and hosted an open house with studio tours of the farm a couple times a year. Soon I started looking into the wholesale gift market, attending one of the Rosen shows which offered round table discussions on how to make the change from the retail market to selling wholesale. Selling at The Atlanta Gift Show, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, etc. to such great companies as Yankee Candle, The Nature Stores and Epcot Center was very exciting.
As our children grew up Bill, my husband and I decided to follow our daughter to Florida. I spent 2 years teaching pottery at Patrick Air Force Base, had lots of great students and made many new friends.
It became time for me to set up my own pottery studio again to concentrate on creating new and unique pottery and reconnect with the local art world. The name Black Creek Pottery held so many wonderful memories and over the years many people collected it so I decided to keep the name.
I am so happy to be venturing into the art world again with pottery here in Florida. Pottery is a never ending learning experience and I am looking forward to making some new and unique items and making new art friends.
About pottery and the clay I work with:
Making pottery is one of the oldest and most treasured of all human skills. Black Creek Pottery is made from stoneware clay. Stoneware clay is made from carefully selected, prepared and blended raw materials and clays. Dug from the earth, clay can be transformed into a work of art or a functional utensil. The clay can be wedged, shaped, glazed, and fired. Once it is fired to maturity it is dense, impermeable and hard enough to resist scratching, it is used to produce tableware and art ware.
After the clay has dried I fire my pottery twice in an electric kiln, first I bisque fire , then glaze the pieces and fire them again in an oxidation atmosphere to approximately 2232 degrees Fahrenheit. Each firing takes about 12 hours plus another day for the kiln to cool enough to open to remove the pottery. Stoneware pottery can be left undecorated or decorated with colored glazes and re-fired. After firing the clay becomes vitreous (meaning it can hold water or liquids).
Stoneware is a strong clay. Stoneware clay is great for kitchen/utility pieces because it is so incredibly durable. You can use it in the oven, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher without harming it. It is important when using stoneware or any pottery that you take into consideration ” thermal shock”, cold pieces should not be placed into a hot oven or microwave and hot pieces should be placed on a hotpad or trivet not onto a cold oountertop. All pottery made of stoneware should be heated and cooled gradually.