Shawn Ireland is a North Carolina potter whose work contains both history and wonder. He creates pieces that are sculptural yet functional, with a foundation in folk tradition.
He makes his home close to the acclaimed Penland School of Crafts, where he was a resident artist for three years. Shawn incorporates many materials from this region into his works which adds a rustic charm and a deep sense of place. The clay body is hand-mixed and augmented with local minerals and soils. His glazes are composed of local feldspar, ball clay and ash from his woodstove. The kiln is fueled with wood salvaged from burn piles at nearby sawmills.
The combination of wood flame and ash can produce colors and surfaces reminiscent of objects found in nature. Like these objects, wood fired pots can look similar to each other, but never identical. The variation and unpredictability of the final glaze is for Shawn, the most exciting part of the whole process.
“I find beauty in the simplicity and usefulness of folk pottery. To me, pots from pre-industrial cultures worldwide embody the spirit of a life less encumbered.…The ingredients promote surprises and keep my craft connected to the natural world.”
Recently, Shawn has begun living in Italy part time & teaching painting. His time there exploring rustic Italian pottery has ignited a new passion for adding figurative and sculptural elements to his functional ware.