Bluefire Stoneware (Sterrett)
The Maker: Wendy Conover
When Wendy Conover was a little girl, she wanted a horse. Her parents gave her modeling clay instead, so she made her own horses.
Fast-forward to college. Conover went for a horse-riding program. There was also a Japanese exchange program for pottery.
“I got hooked,” she said. “They couldn’t get me out of the clay room and I spent most of my time in the clay room and not on the horses.”
She would spend the next several years working with clay as a hobby and experimenting with making glazes.
Conover is sensitive to using environmentally safe products and insists on using materials – from her throwing wheel and kilns to her clays and glaze ingredients – that are made in the U.S.
In addition to her artistic expression, Conover’s work stands out from most because of the high temperatures she uses to create her finished products. She fires her pottery at 2,530 degrees, or “cone 10” in pottery talk, which ensures the pottery is more durable.
As for what she produces, Conover takes inspiration from the nature around her. Much of her work has imprints from native plants. And she still makes lots of horses.
“Really, I make this for me and I hope everybody else likes it, too,” she said.
Conover uses the money she makes off her pottery to support her gardening and farming. In addition to tomatoes and okra, Conover is experimenting with growing turmeric and ginger in the Alabama climate and is having success so far.
She also enjoys success with Bluefire Stoneware.
“I love to make people happy and it makes me happy, too,” she said.
The product: A variety of pottery and stoneware fired at very high temperatures.
Take home: An extra-large serving platter with a fern leaf imprint. ($175).