Artist Profile: Kate Harward

At the root of ceramic artist Kate Harward’s success is her enthusiastic exploration of techniques. 

“My ideas often come when I’m working on a piece I may have made many times—all of a sudden a new iteration comes to mind!” says Tygart River Pottery artist Kate Harward. “I rarely sit down and design; the ideas seem to flow while I’m working or perusing articles or books.” Harward feeds her creativity with diverse influences ranging from extensive international travel to studying Japan’s highly decorated pots of the Jomon period, large Chinese jars and Korean celadons. She loves how reduction firing complements form, and Michael Cardew, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada have been major influences on her body of work. She has a natural gift for drawing inspiration from all the world has to offer.

Harward produces a wide range of functional pottery, including pieces like this fish-shaped serving platter.
Harward produces a wide range of functional pottery, including pieces like this fish-shaped serving platter.

 

In the mid-1970s, Harward and her husband moved their six children, several tons of clay, dogs, cats and household goods to a beautiful spot above the wild Tygart Valley River in east-central West Virginia. For nearly 40 years the artist has worked there with stoneware clay, producing primarily functional pottery, wheel-thrown and altered as well as slab built. “I like to do large pots and often start with a slab onto which I throw coils to finish the piece. Larger pieces are green glazed (fired once) because I like the interaction of the glaze with the clay in that process.”

A quartet of colorful, practical pottery mugs from the Harward studio.
A quartet of colorful, practical pottery mugs from the Harward studio.

At the root of Harward’s success is her enthusiastic exploration of techniques. She often uses Shino glazes—a formula developed by master potter Malcolm Davis—in which the reduction atmosphere produces an interesting effect, and she likes to experiment with combining wood-ash glazes and the Shino to provide surface contrast. Wax resist and decorative incising that cuts through the wax allow her to separate and introduce distinctive complementary glazes.

Harward is a long-time Buyers Market of American Craft exhibitor, and shows her work through West Virginia’s Tamarack Artisan Foundation.

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