This post is published as part of the get to know our Artisans series. Please check out Q JewelryandGifts for more information and to review some of the fine pottery crafted by C.L. Ramsdell.
The material and forms I use have both a freshness and an ancient nature. My work is not frozen in time. I value them as anchors to the past and I welcome their continuity and timeless quality. Living on the Plains of the Dakotas has made me very aware of the power of Mother Nature. Like Mother Nature, my firing process is spontaneous and unpredictable yet sometimes fragile. It is these contradictions which drew me to further investigate clay forms.
It is my goal to create a piece of work which provides a connection for the viewer. When I create the piece each one is intended to radiate beauty, harmony and balance.
About the Artist
C.L. Ramsdell’s pots remember the kiss of smoke when horsehairs sizzle and curl on the white hot surface during the firing process. “I quickly hold the hair where I want the design. This firing time, roughly a minute, is intensely hot; yet it must be done without protective gloves.”
When the piece has cooled, Ramsdell scrubs off excess carbon, then applies wax to protect its surface. The result is a soft glowing organic patina which looks more like wood or marble than clay.
Ramsdell’s dramatic monochromatic horsehair pots are a modern interpretation of the Apache tradition honoring a fallen war horse. The hair of the tail or mane is incorporated into the vessel, so the spirit of the horse is always present.
The buffalo hair is collected from branches and various rubs used by wild buffalo in the Badlands of South Dakota. The horse hair is donated by local ranch and rodeo horses.