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Deborah Shell

My nearly life-long involvement with clay began when I accompanied my mother to her intro class in ceramics. I can still recall the delightful feeling of slippery wet clay between my fingers as I happily joined the women pinching, rolling and throwing the amazingly versatile material. I deeply cherish the candlesticks my mother made in that class in 1956.

Since then, clay has been a medium in which I am completely at home. Inspired by clay’s capacity to produce textures, shapes and utility, my work is a combination of all three.


The capacity for clay to convey emotion pleases me, especially when considering the opportunity to create a piece such as mug or a teapot that will brighten someone’s day.

This work represents a culmination of focused endeavor begun in 1972.  Frequent use of slabs impressed with antique lace, buttons, shells, iron-work or leaves sourced from local trees, bark or other impressionable surfaces combined with thrown forms characterizes my work.  A variety of glaze techniques and original recipes are employed, including a bit of Mt. St. Helen’s ash, some underglaze and wax resist fired to cone six in my electric kiln.  

Bringing the past into the present through the creation of an integrated form not only honors those whose stories lie within the lace or iron-work, but also encourages an appreciation for human creativity and endeavor, just for the sake of artistic expression and the pleasure it brings forward.

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