FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue High School senior Mary Parker of Industry has a plan for her future. It is a plan that includes a lot of creativity and, if all goes as she hopes, she is right on track to see that plan come to fruition.

Mt. Blue High School senior Mary Parker, right, gives sophomore Brittany Bailey advice on selecting glaze during a ceramics class Monday, Oct. 28. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal Buy this Photo

Parker is a potter. She is also a blacksmith and fiber artist with a talented heritage. Her mother is a fiber artist; her grandmother a painter.

Parker first experienced pottery making when she was very young. Her early childhood was spent in Texas where clay soil is predominant.

“We would take clay out of the driveway, throw it on our kids’ pottery wheel and fire it in our fireplace,” she said. “We would do that every year for Mother’s Day.”

Her father died when she was 10. Life changed and her art fell to the wayside. Her family moved to a different Texas town and then to Maine.

“We first came up here to visit when I was 4 years old. We really liked it. We used to spend time at Christmas here. A year after my dad died, we ended up moving here,” Parker said.

During her junior year, Parker took an Introduction to Art class.

“I hadn’t been in an art class since elementary school and I deeply regret that,” she said. “I took the class, relearned everything I learned as a kid.”

This year, she is enrolled in both the beginning and advanced ceramics class. Parker is never quite sure what she is going to make when she starts a project but her finished pieces are colorful, functional and distinctive.

Her typical technique is to “throw from the mound”. This involves centering a large block of clay on a wheel, rather than a small piece. This technique not only allows for greater production but, for Parker, it allows the clay to take its natural shape.

Ceramics artist Mary Parker shows off a selection of her creations. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal Buy this Photo

“In that fashion, I can figure out what shape the clay wants to be. It is more organic and more natural,” she said.

Although she doesn’t plan a project, she usually follows a theme such as favorite characters, household objects or animals.

After a piece of clay takes its shape, Parker fires it in a kiln. Then she applies glaze to give it color before a second firing. Glazes are a mixture of materials that include silica, metal oxides and colorants. Glazes are typically drab in color when applied but undergo a transformation when fired at high temperatures.

“Most people can’t see what the colors will be when they apply glaze, but I have an idea what the final result will be,” she said. “I like putting glaze on in layers. It separates as it wants naturally, and I end up with a more abstract piece. My mom is a dyer. My grandmother would talk be me about colors as she painted. They work from two different color points, but it gives me a good sense of color.”

Parker is considering attending college to study fiber arts and pottery. She is also planning to have a local studio and storefront to sell her wares, give demonstrations, and teach classes.

She has plans in place to help make her dream a reality. She is in the process of getting a kiln at home. Once it is up and running, she will sell her ceramics at farmers’ markets and fairs.

Once she graduates, the house she shares with her mother will be hers. She intends to rent out a portion of her home which, she said, will bring in enough income so she can focus on her art.

“I really missed art,” Parker said. “I am glad I had the opportunity to take these classes. They changed my perspective and rekindled my passion to create.”


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