A Visit to Fox Pass Pottery

 
Since 1973, Fox Pass Pottery has been a landmark of the Hot Springs
arts community.  The studio is set
in a woodland setting nestled against Hot Springs National Park and features handmade
pottery by Jim and Barbara Larkin. The Larkin’s specialize mainly in functional
work and Barbara does sculptural work. Jim’s work is made on the potter’s wheel
and Barbara’s is hand built.

 

Over the years, their gameplan has been to stay small and
specialize in hand crafted specialized items. “We started in ‘73 with the idea
of doing something we love, working with our hands and our minds,” said Jim
Larkin.

 

There is a wood fire kil that he and his son built ( in
2001) in the back of the studio. “A lot of our work is fired in that,” said
Jim.  

 

When people come in, the Larkin’s said the main question
they get is “where do they get the clay.”

 

They mix their clay from several different clays and
minerals. ‘It’s our own formula that we’ve worked up over the years to fit the
firing temperature, durability, glaze fit, color, elasticity, various criteria
that we have,” said Jim. 

 

They also mix their own glazes, which are formulated for
specific colors and surface qualities. After glazing, the pottery is fired in
either a gas or wood fired kiln to 2350 degrees F. The finished pieces are
durable and safe for putting into dishwashers, ovens, or  microwaves.
 
The second question, or the ‘big’ question they usually get
is “You do this for a living?”

 

“Because I think for so many people that would be their
dream if they could do something like this for a living,” said Jim. “They can’t
quite believe that we do. And for 39 years.”
 
The most popular items they make are mugs. “I love to make
them because I know people are going to use them,” said Jim. “We look at other
cultures and we talk about their rituals as if we don’t have our own. But they
are so common to us we sometimes take them for granted. But getting up in the
morning and having your coffee…I collect mugs from other potters and I’ll look
them over and I’ll pick a mug out that just feels good, there is something to
it that I really enjoy. And that morning cup of coffee just sort of relaxes me
and gets me ready for the day and there is that ritual involved with that.”
When he makes a mug, “I want it to be one that brings someone some bit of
pleasure,” he said. “And that’s true with all the pottery we make.”
 
The studio is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest so
the outdoors are an inspiration for the Larkin’s. “When you are making pottery
you are involving the earth, water, and fire

Posted in Crafts, Antiques, and Flea Markets, Kids

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