The Studio

Insomnia Pottery is located just north of Cornelius, in rural Washington County, Oregon.  It’s part of a working farm that produces annual and perennial flowers, in a setting surrounded by gallery forests and gently rolling farmland.  If you would like to visit the studio, or arrange to purchase pottery by postal delivery, please email

Casting the New Firebox

Purchased Mizzou castable refractory cement is used to build the new kiln’s firebox.

About saltfired stoneware

Even though I am fourteen firings into my second salt kiln now, it’s still exciting to complete and fire a load of pottery.   Each body of work, and its firing bring additional learning and possibilities; new combinations of clay, slip, and glaze. The unpredictable collaboration of salt vapor and kiln position make every pot unique and reveal extraordinary possibilities for color and imagery.

Drawing on vessel forms of many cultures and epochs, from traditional English country pottery to historic Chinese bronzes and American pewter wares, I seek to create beautiful and useful pots to submit to the searing heat and defining atmosphere of the salt kiln. These are pots for daily use – pots for preparing and serving food and drink – created for the comfortable rituals of daily life.

Building A Load

Recrystallized silicon carbide barstock is used to create a scaffold for shelves made of the same material. Each point of contact is wadded. Posts are silicone carbine cam rollers from diesel engine manufacturing.

Kiln at 2250 F

Front and rear burners are at top delivery, and the kiln is ready to salt.

About the kiln

Firing the pots that have been carefully thrown, hand built, carved or stamped, glazed, and decorated with slips is the last and most critical step in producing my work. Almost everything that is distinctive about my work is the result of salt firing. Exterior glazing would obscure surface imagery – the salt firing process renders the work sufficiently glazed to be functional, without concealing a single detail applied by the decorator. The “orange peel” texture that characterizes salt fired pots is a dramatic complement to form and imagery.

This is my second salt kiln. It’s more efficient and faster firing than the first one, and has a door hung on a track between the kiln and the wall that has ended midnight brick-ups.

There are old prints of German potters scampering across the tops of their giant kilns pouring salt into roof ports. Terrifying! I open two pots on the front of my kiln and stuff in my paper packets of salt. Flames curl out of any crack in the kiln, which roars like a beast. I read my pyrometer, peek in the top port to see the cone packs. I protect my face with a respirator face shield, but my hair is stiff with salt when I am done. Then, the wait to open the kiln and see what is inside begins.

Finished Load 2010

Better than Christmas! Here’s a load of new pots ready to price and pack.