Rat City Living - Nan Coffin

Nan Coffin

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Website:  www.nancoffin.com  and www.thirdpottery.com

As a self-employed potter who works alone, yet enjoys being and socializing with others, clay is a medium I am able to use to interact with people on a daily basis. I enjoy making and using functional kitchen ware and table service. When others use my pots in their day-to-day activities, itʼs a way for me to communicate and share with them a part of myself. Itʼs the ultimate compliment when others want to reach out, pick up and ultimately use a piece of my work.
The pottersʼ wheel is often the first tool utilized in my work. I begin with thrown pieces and continue to alter, shape and manipulate the clay off the wheel. When determining ʻwhat to makeʼ, the decision often falls to the need for how a particular piece will be used in food service, either in the preparation or serving of food and how it will be presented in a table setting. 

Artist Statement:
I grew up in central Indiana, received a BA in journalism from Ball State University, worked for a short time in my ʻthenʼ area of expertise, traveled the US and returned back to central Indiana to set up a clay studio.
A lusting to make things from clay was all it took to get me started and in the mid-1970ʼs I set up shop in Whitestown, Indiana on a shoestring budget. I am a self-taught potter, having no academic training in the medium. Fortunately, I did have guidance and support from my former husband; with that, an old truck and a strong back, a small studio building took shape. Soon to follow were hand built kick wheels, two kilns from scrapped fire bricks (one, a small wood burner; the other, fueled by #2 furnace oil); clay mixed by hand, ware boards and a huge learning curve.

My ideas combined with works from various media, influential artists, shapes and colors I saw in the world were incorporated into the pieces I made. When I saw a form, a decorating technique, a color or a pattern that struck my fancy, that particular impression was filed away and I tried to create it in my own style, making it ʻmy ownʼ.

In the early 1980ʼs, I moved to Paoli, Indiana and set up my second studio, Log Creek Pottery. As we started a family, I put clay on hold for several years and found great joy in raising our children. As fortunate as I was to be a stay-at-home mom, my eye was never far from the ideas and vision of pieces I wanted to create.The decision to postpone clay work is one Iʼll always treasure. Clay would always be there, children are in oneʼs care for only a short while.

Twenty years later, I relocated to San Diego, California and have started yet another studio,Third Pottery, with new inspiration. With great favor, Iʼve been able to travel to other countries and study their cultures; through these adventures, the evolution of my work in clay progresses. I continue to find inspiration from my rich experiences and work diligently to encompass those unique influences into the pieces I make. Affirmation comes to me when folks choose to use my work in their homes, their lives, sharing food and celebration with family and friends. 

How have you come to work with Rat City Studios:
In August 2016, I was invited to participate in Deb Schwartzkopf’s Build or Bust- Teapots summer event. It proved to be a lovely time in Deb’s studio working alongside committed, engaged, talented artists, sharing their knowledge, expertise, points of view and humor.

Collaboration of ideas, and assembling parts and pieces for teapots was delightful and stimulating; the environment of the studio and surrounding gardens (which provided much of our gourmet lunches and dinners) was an added pleasure.

As the weekend culminated, the local community participated in a terrific potluck where the invited artists were able to share in lively conversations regarding work created through the weekend.