Category Archives: Meet the Members

Section with posts about individual members

Christine Golden Was “Golden”

I have been trying to figure out “the Figure” for the last 3 years. It was mine and my husband’s plan that once our son had finished his bachelor’s I would be free to go back to school. The realization dawned that it would be extremely difficult to “go to” graduate school. We live in Abiquiu, New Mexico and are quite planted there, with both obligations and a passion for the place. Going “off” to school wasn’t as feasible as it once was. The solutions for me were workshops. This year alone I’ve been to 5 workshops and I’m not through yet.

August 15-19, 2016 – I went to a wonderful workshop at Santa Fe Clay, which wasn’t even a long arduous drive from home to attend. Christine Golden taught her method of building the figure in “Beyond the Figure”.  Christine Golden is a figurative ceramic sculptor whose work is extraordinary. She has been working with clay since she was 15 years old, and has around 20 years’ experience in the media.

Christine Golden

Christine Golden was in some ways the most valuable workshop I’ve attended yet. She builds the figure from slabs, a technique that I love. I already build hollow for the most part any way, but this method provided me with so much more exact control of anatomically correct forms. I was and am truly amazed at the precision that can be attained through working with slabs. I have been to several workshops that address the face, some that discussed the shoulders, but this one went beyond to encompass the torso, arms and hands.

Now I know there are some out there that would say to me that each time I’ve gone to another of my heroes’ workshop I say “this was the best one yet” and I have to confess that is true. There is an element of catching more and more each time as each teacher has a different approach so that hearing some things from a different perspective can help to truly clarify them in your mind. With that said though, Christine Golden was “golden”. She is such a gracious and giving teacher with an unending amount of energy and focus. Her preciseness in building the figure reminded me of Tip Tolland. Many of the measurements, average head heights and anatomical references, I had heard Tip Tolland discuss. At the week’s end, references to emotional expression in the face reminded me of Tip also.

Christine Golden Santa Fe Clay August 15-19, 2016

Christine Golden’s approach to the face was similar to Debra Fritts, although not exactly the same. Christine relies on a tape measure and Debra presents her information based on traditional drawing and painting proportions of the face. Debra often uses the idea of drawing with clay to reinforce those concepts.

Golden’s building for the torso and arms can be compared Lisa Clague’s method, although each have their own unique approach. Christine also gave specific measurements to keep the figure on track and anatomically speaking. Golden once again always reckoned back to specific measurements to retain correct proportions. I really appreciate adding that tool, which lends a more precise way to build, to my tool box. All and all I feel like I have gained years of experience in just five days.

Christine Golden Santa Fe Clay August 15-19, 2016
Jacquita Beddo at Christine Golden Workshop Santa Fe Clay

Another windfall from this workshop was meeting and getting to know Lauren Karle. She was Christine’s assistant for the workshop. She, of course, is also a member of NMPCA and will teach a segment at the upcoming New Mexico Connections workshop at Ghost Ranch September 9-11, 2016. Lauren will be presentingSewing Clay:  Darting Slip-transferred Slabs.” The workshop is sold out but there is a waiting list. I hope you don’t miss this opportunity to get to know another extraordinary member of the NMPCA.

President’s Letter – Lee Akins

For this President’s Letter, I wanted to tell you a little about myself.

I have served on NMPCA Board for about 5 years and as President since 2015 . My pottery career started with teaching Ceramics for several years in grades K-12 and then teaching in craft centers and on the college level for the past 38 years.  My wife and I built our current house and studio in an old apple orchard in the little village of Rinconada outside of Dixon. 

I joined NMPCA to get to know more clay artists around the state and have the opportunity to participate in workshops and exhibits.  Perhaps you also joined to be able to participate in workshops and shows; if so, we have both coming up soon.

Our annual Celebration of Clay is coming up September 1-2. (See details) Hopefully, you will all enter to have the opportunity to show along side the rest of our membership.

Lee Akins reviewing the results of Tin-foil saggar firing session. Lee led the session at the Ghost Ranch workshop, New Mexico Connections.  From left to right:  Leonard Baca, Lee Akins, Jacquita Beddo, Judy Nelson-Moore.

We also have a full slate of workshops coming to Ghost Ranch. Some of you have been able to come and help get the new temporary space ready. (See details)  The workshops offer something for everyone; plan to attend at least one and maybe more!

Our Annual Meeting in Albuquerque in June offered the chance to share food and images of the membership’s work. We want to welcome three new board members:

Judith Richey, Mike Thornton and Sheri Kotowski.    The group said a fond farewell to Judy Nelson-Moore.  Judy has served on the Board for 13 years and is taking a well-deserved break. We will miss her computer skills and endless dedication to the organization.

Lastly I want to continue providing programs that meet the interests of all the members. NMPCA is a volunteer run organization so if you want something to happen, jump in and help us. We would like to have more informal social get-togethers so let us know if you have any ideas about where and how to have them.   

Hoping to see you at one of our summer activities,

Lee Akins

Contemplation of the Olla

In the nineteen sixties the argument craft verses art constantly reared its ugly head misdirecting dialogue.  It is, on reflection a spurious argument siphoning off valuable discourse.  I am a sculptor.  Clay is my medium and has been for the last half century.  Not faithful to the ceramic paradigm and not caring for shiny, I do not glaze and often paint my sculpture.  Having spent the last forty years denying being a “potter”, I was surprised to find myself this last winter totally engaged with ollas, the “ultimate pot”.
The abstract branch of my work, mostly large and for the outdoors, is fueled by exploration of the medium’s formal aspects when built by hand to scale.  This exploration lead me to understand that clay wants to be a vessel in the same way water, free of outside influences, wants to be a sphere.
After much contemplation I have settled on three essential components of the vessel:   The orifice or sipapu provides access and egress.   The chamber is a place of stored wealth, petitioning the future in cradling the egg, the seed, and the puddle.  The component often dismissed (because of the taint of utility) is the means of support, a necessity in the fruition of dreams.
I find these elemental and eternal concepts are both base and beautiful.
Sara D’Alessandro
Mudwasp Studio
Sara D'Alessandro, vessel, pot

Meet Peter Jones


Peter JonesWhy does a potter from Maine join the NMPCA?  Read on:

I was “introduced” to my two passions in life, pottery and cave exploration, at an early age in 1961 during a trip to California.  Two years later, I threw my first pot in a 9th grade arts and crafts class and loved it from the first moment.  I “returned” to pottery as a senior at Denver University in 1971, fell into the clay vortex and never came back out again.  On informing my father on the eve of my graduation from DU that I had decided to be a potter for the rest of my life, one could plainly see the color drain from his face.  Forty four years later, I am still at it and love it just as much as I did then.

I work in stoneware and porcelain clays and fire to cone 10 in a 100 cubic foot gas-fired kiln.  I market my work primarily through fine art and craft shows around the country.  Although I live in Camden, Maine, I have strong connections to New Mexico and consider it my home as much as is Maine.

My first trip to New Mexico came in 1969 when my passion for cave exploration took me to the Guadalupe Mountains, home to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  I’ve been caving and photographing throughout that mountain range ever since then.  Eventually, I brought my new found love for making pots to New Mexico and began teaching workshops, particularly at The Pottery Studio in the city of Carlsbad.  In 2012, I did a fundraising project at Carlsbad Caverns National Park which combined my two passions of pottery and caving.  I set up a borrowed potters wheel in the Visitors Center for four days, brought fifty pre-made “Carlsbad Cavern Donation Mugs” (minimum donation of $25 directly to the Park) with me, along with my own work.  Ultimately raised $2500 for the Park.  I will be doing a similar event in 2016 over the Fourth of July weekend and will elaborate on that in The Slip Trail as the time approaches.

Peter JonesAs much as Maine and New Mexico are extreme opposites from one another, I love both places equally.  My work has a strong Southwestern influence to it that comes from my time spent in New Mexico since 1969.  While I don’t expect people to come to my studio on their tour of New Mexico potters (it’s just a bit out of the way….), my studio and work is open to all who care to see it.  The 2016 July Fourth Weekend fundraiser at Carlsbad Caverns National Park will be a big event and I encourage interested people to attend and help support New Mexico’s only National Park as it will be the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  Look for more info on The Slip Trail at a later time.

Peter Jones
Mountain Street Pottery
Camden, Maine
NMPCA Member since:  September, 2015

Studio Tour Page:


Meet Jorge Luis Bernal

Jorge Luis Bernal I started working on clay in 1985.

My ceramic work is defined principally by my love for geometry, but also by New Mexico Adobe-style architecture with its rich earth tone colors and iconography related to petroglyphs and the Pueblo people’s spirit.
These iconic forms have inserted themselves into the design of my casitas, temples and artwork in a special way. The repetitive symbols and patterns accent and define form. The external details or embellishments give strength to the bold lines of the casitas. My choice of mostly monochromatic color allows the pattern to coexist with but not dominate the form. My goal is to create simple hand-built forms that speak primarily to shelter, boundaries, and the comfort of family, intimacy and prayer.

Jorge Luis Bernal
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Member since 9/2015


Jorge Luis Bernal

Meet Cheryl Hoagland

Cheryl HoaglandI came to pottery in my early 40’s when I joined a fellow teacher for evening throwing classes, adult education, Columbus, Ohio. We worked on stand-up treadle wheels, hand-built by an Ohio potter in the Leach style. My teacher was in her mid 60’s, a student of the Leach tradition and a firm believer in the old school methods. We were told we could not save anything until we had thrown 10 pots at least 8″ high. These were cut open and analyzed by Helene for even wall thickness top to bottom. We used low-fire smooth red clay. It was a good three months before I could save my first pot. I still have that 9″ x 4″ x 4″ vase in my cupboard, and I have to say, it looks pretty darn good! Thank you, Helene Dwyer.

Some 27 odd years later, and an assortment of university classes, workshops and personal exploration, I continue to pursue pottery and clay. I look on my body of knowledge as a brain-sized block of Swiss cheese. It has some holes. And I love filling in those holes.

The SF Community College provides a strong clay community where I can continue to learn from excellent teachers and passionate fellow students. I explore clay in functional pottery, figurative sculpture, Micaceous traditional vessels and contemporary hand-built vessels. Some of this work is offered for sale at the SF Contemporary Clay Fair, the SF Community College Clay Club sale, and at SF Pottery in Santa Fe. Pieces can also be viewed on the NMPCA studio tour site.


Member Since 2004