Steven Hill has been a functional potter since 1974, originally working out of a backyard studio and selling his work mostly at art festivals. By the mid 1990’s he was looking for a way to expand his studio, to begin a resident artist program for aspiring potters, and to provide space for other ceramic artists to work. Red Star Studios became the home of Steven Hill Pottery from 1998 - 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 Steven lived in Sandwich, IL and co-founded Center Street Clay. Steven is now working at 323 Clay in Independence, MO and concentrating on what he does best, making pots and teaching!
Steven Hill received his BFA from Kansas State University in 1973. His work is featured in nationally juried shows and in many ceramics books. Steven has taught over 250 workshops throughout the United States and Canada and has written various ceramic articles for Ceramics Monthly, Studio Potter and Pottery Making Illustrated.
I simply have to make pots! While making pottery nourishes my soul, selling it puts food on my table. When I am sitting at the potters’ wheel with music reverberating through my studio, life is good! The dance that is born of clay spinning through my fingers is the place in my life where magic happens. I’ve always had a relatively narrow focus, making wheel thrown, single-fired functional stoneware. My work never stands still, however… It has been a slow evolution of form and surface. Function is what keeps me rooted, but I don’t mind stretching the boundaries of usefulness just a little as I explore my tiny vision.
A trip to Italy in 1995 profoundly influenced my direction with glazing. It wasn't the Majolica pottery that Italy is famous for, but the colors and textures of Tuscany that spoke to me. The weatherworn painted wood and stucco surfaces, which highlight architectural form by stripping away surface embellishment, exerted their influence on my pottery.
I also love the atmospheric variation that occurs naturally across the surface of salt, soda and wood fired pots, but fired in gas reduction throughout my career. To give my pots the surface quality I was after, I learned to create my own atmospheric surfaces through careful blending and layering of sprayed glazes.
In December 2008 I discovered that reduction plays a rather insignificant role in the finished look of my pottery. The cascading rivulets of ash-like glazes and mysterious microcrystalline mat surfaces work just as effectively in oxidation as they do in reduction! Even the rich brown and orange colors that I have always attribued to reduction firing are possible in oxidation. In 2008 I began the transition to Cone 6 oxidation fired porcelain, the journey has been extremely rewarding.
Sometimes I wonder what direction my life would have taken if I had not discovered clay. The only thing I know for certain is that I lead a privileged life making my living doing something I love as much as making pottery.