Years ago Russell Mott decided one sleepless night that he would become a potter, not knowing or fully understanding why. Ever since then, his passion for ceramics has grown. He is a very fun and outgoing guy and that personality shows in his work, such as the eccentric Raku pottery he creates. His wife, Kate Mott, is a wonderful artist with much experience and exceptional talent. She does all the painting and designs on the ceramics. She also does a lot of sculpting work in her platters and the accents on top of many of the pots. Their exhibit at the Tombaugh Gallery inside the Unitarian Universalist Church displays their Raku, Naked Raku, and stoneware pieces. Peggy Brown, Chairperson at the Church, helped set up the exhibit and commented on the couple’s work, “Fabulous. Anything they do is great. They are very generous to come have their art show here, and they are very organized and easy to work with.” On the first day of their exhibit there was quite a turnout, and in less than one hour 7 pieces were already sold.
Raku and Naked Raku are Russell’s specialty. There are various techniques to making Raku pots, and not every design will come out the same. Russell’s technique includes lifting the pots from peak temperature and then placing them into a sand box. He then re-oxidizes them in open air with either sawdust or newspaper. This causes the pots to be engulfed in flames. Russell then covers the pots with a metal container— cutting off all air for a couple of minutes. When the pots are again exposed to air, the Raku glaze forms its colors. Russell then sprays the pots with water to “lock” the color. Naked Raku is very similar to the process of creating regular Raku. The difference is when the pots are out of the firing, they are put in a slip, glazed, and then designs are etched in. When they are engulfed in flames and the metal can has been placed over them and taken away, the glaze chips away. Although the glaze chips away, the etched design remains and turns black. Raku pots come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of metallic sheens.
The stoneware the Motts make is created with a lasting clay body. This clay body makes stoneware extremely durable. It is microwave, dishwasher, and food safe, along with being waterproof and chip resistant. The platters are great to hang on the wall as decoration too. Kate said, “the platters can be hung as décor, then taken off the wall to serve food.” Her collections of platters with the animal designs are inspired by Gabriella Denton. Denton’s work revolves around a lot animal folk art. Kate’s other platters with the square designs were inspired by Joseph Albers.
Kate and Russell are a talented couple who work together to create beautiful and functional pottery. The shine from their ceramics light up the gallery and can light up or accent any room. You can find Kate and Russell at MVS studios in the downtown mall, 535 N. Main.