Oral History Interview with Sarah Frederick Part II

Kentucky Historical Society


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0:02 - Being awarded grant money / importance of quality photographs of work

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Keywords: Al Smith grant; Country Day School; education; glaze; grant; Kentucky Arts Council; Kentucky Foundation for Women; kiln; Mary Anderson Center; National Council on Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA); National Endowment of the Arts (NEA); photographs; Ron Forth; rug hooking; Sally Bingham; slides; teacher; teaching

7:15 - Rug Hooking / kiln firing techniques

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Partial Transcript: rug hooking;Magnolia leaves;tapestry;ceramics;pottery;Maker's Mark;red clay;low fire ceramics;high fire ceramics;salt;glaze;Susie Hatcher;Rude Olsonik Award

16:02 - Rude Osolnik / selling at galleries / paying assistants

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Keywords: apprentice; Berea (KY); galleries; Joel Osolnik; Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation; Kentucky Artisan Center; Louisville (KY)

23:26 - Penland School of Crafts / travel for inspiration

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Keywords: ceramics; Chihuahua; Ed Everly; Mata Ortiz; Mike Iams; Montana; Olmec; Penland School of Crafts; South America; Tuscon (AZ)

27:37 - Function vs. Form / storytelling with ceramics

29:56 - Teapots for Celestial Seasonings / using different glazes

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Keywords: Celestial Seasonings; glaze; Lemon Zinger; sand quarry; silica sand; teapots

34:21 - Incorporating the human figure into her work

35:11 - Explaining some of her pieces

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Keywords: Alma Lesch; dishes; fruit; Louisville School of Art; Mata Ortiz; soda-fired; stoneware; table ware; Wayne Ferguson


WILLIHNGANZ: No, no. No, I’m just…I haven’t heard some of these foundations, in terms of the art world. I’m kind of interested in hearing more about them.

FREDERICK: Oh, you know the Kentucky Foundation for Women that Sally Bingham established, and I had a grant from her. Early on, she kind of solicited people. She’d said, ‘Well, why don’t you apply for a grant?’ And I said, ‘Well, okay’. So I got a grant for uh…working on glazes. And at that time my Iraqi employee Haudi, and I, developed a piece of equipment for making certain cuts, you know, cut plates. And I wanted his technological things. So, um…I in the late 90s…I got a second grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. At that time it had changed, Sally had turned over leadership and it was…well, as they are set up now, they are really supporting women and…women who are disadvantaged in their life, and women who need to come up through the arts or who can somehow be helped by the arts. So, there are public action grants, and then there are now grants for women artists based on their arts. So there are kind of two different categories. The first grant of any significance after Sally Bingham’s that I got was an Al Smith grant from the Kentucky Arts Council. I got that in 1991, the year I was at Archie Brae, so that gave me enough. Originally I was going to build a kiln, an extra kiln with that, but it kind of went into the daily thing, and into my resume, and into my pride, and my thanks, and uh, my gratitude to the State and to Al Smith.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now, when they made this grant to you, did they have any strings attached to it, or…

FREDERICK: No, they had, the Al Smith grant was fabulous. It seemed like a lot of money at the time--$5,000. Now that’s a small grant. It was purely based on your art; it was juried by out of state jury, five slides.

WILLIHNGANZ: Five slides?

FREDERICK: Five slides, Yeah, which is great. That’s a great way you know. I, if you do it for an NEA grant I think they take twenty slides, I’m not sure. But this was five slides, so it was quite challenging to you know put your highest self into five pictures, so. And it was with the work I had been doing in the studio, all work I had done, but you know…

WILLIHNGANZ: With the ceramic work, right?

FREDERICK: All ceramic work, Yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: It just seems to me that if you’re judging it based on ceramic art, you’d actually want to see the actual ceramic work, rather than just a picture.

FREDERICK: Well, that’s true, but there’s been a real development photographing three dimensional work, so sometimes the slides are better than the work. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of work of mine that’s like, a kind of not very significant piece, but a great picture. So, it’s a picture show. You have to have good pictures to get into the craft, the American Craft Council shows, and it was all slides at that time until the late 90s…it was all slides. So, for a while many of us were going to a wonderful photographer in Cincinnati named Ron Forth, whose still taking pictures, I’m sure. He took beautiful pictures, and he’d give you slides and transparencies in case you wanted to be published. And because of the wonderful pictures he took, I was…I have some pictures, for several times, in Ceramics Monthly magazine. He said to me, ‘Well, I’m doing this vertical’. And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Why, I’m taking a vertical picture because that way you can get it on the covers of Ceramics Monthly.’ So, I didn’t really want to be on the cover. It didn’t…that seemed like too much. But, I did have a very nice, small article, so I was very happy about that. Oh, that’s my new cell phone ring. Just let that go. I’m afraid it’ll ring seven times. Okay, so…Sally Bingham’s organization, or the Kentucky Foundation for Women, gave me a grant in 1998, and with that I was able to go to the Vamp Center…a wonderful art center in Canada…and work for three months towards a show I was going to have at the Swanson, then Swanson-Cralle Gallery. And in that show I had some figurative pieces and mostly the landscape work, and it was extremely well received, critically…and by artists. So that was where I was headed when I had to make this major break in my work. Two semesters of teaching, which was very exciting, but teaching takes it all away from you. It’s fabulous, but I really didn’t…really have much time left for work. And then I sold my house. I did a good deal of travelling in those years from 1999 ‘til 2005, when I sold my house. I didn’t do much ceramics, the year I sold my house. I took up rug hooking which gave me some lap work to do. And then 2007 the NCECA, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, met in Louisville, which was a very big deal…and I was invited to be in seven shows. So at that time I had bought this house, and it was very rough, and I was able to use it as a studio. So I worked for a year, oh that’s the message tone …I did a lot of work. One piece I was very happy with, which I can show you…it’s downstairs. Or, I can bring it up and we can look. And then as soon as that was over, I had a gig at Country Day School. And the week that was over, I had to take everything out of this house and put it in storage, and then this house was taken apart. So there was no place to work. I did work briefly at the Mary Anderson Center again, which at that time had really had…a wonderful and still does has a wonderful ceramic studio. So I was able to work up there last summer…it really wasn’t like it had ended. But there came a time when I had to stop…pack up from the apartment where I was living…get all my stuff organized to come here, and all this time I was also continuing with my rug hooking, which I can’t show you. What did I do with that piece? I might have put there, here…and as you’ll see in pictures of my work, its…its most of my work…my ceramic work has been about color and surface. It’s not so much about the forms, though in my production life I think we had a lot of interesting forms, but it’s mainly about the surface and about color. And so I was super attracted to rug hooking, which gave you access to all this wool. And it’s a little traditional pattern that was one of the first pieces I made. And its very…can be very meditative work. You get a good light, and you can sit and you can watch television, listen to music, be totally…quite…which I’ve done a lot of recently cause…just very calming and this is uh…I have a big fascination with magnolia leaves, which are so beautiful when they fall off the trees. They, they turn a lot of different colors, so I’m making uh…a piece for someone’s home, and this is my magnolia leaf Opus. I’m very interested in working in rug hooking in a pictorial way, using it more like tapestry than like, like carpet. But, since I I’ve got back into ceramics this summer, and I did these pieces for Maker’s Mark. I was working with red clay again, and I got some terrific ideas. So, I have two pieces going downstairs in my studio that…they got me quite interested, and I’m anxious to get back to them.

WILLIHNGANZ: Is there a kiln here?

FREDERICK: Well, at my other house, I had two electric kilns and a big gas kiln outside. The gas kiln I built, or had built with the help of many of the people who work for me and friends, was supposed to be for me…but for about six or seven years it was used basically by my whoever was my main ceramic thrower. First, Chris Baskins who worked for me for three years, and was a wonderful employee, and became a fabulous potter, he makes beautiful things. And then Keaton Win, a wonderful young man who teaches at Georgia, who’s highly, in Georgia, highly talented--he used it. They both used it professionally, and I didn’t begin to use that kiln until after I had retired the business. I had people say ‘You’re going to retire?’ And I said, ‘No’. And they would say, ‘You’re gonna retire, do you have a job?’ (Chuckle.) And I’d say, ‘Yeah, I think so; I think I have a job.’ But I began to use the kiln then. That was part of what I was aiming at, and my original training was in high fire work with the gas, you know, fuel…atmospheric kilns, gas fired, wood fired, and I really, in my training that was ceramics at its height. In fact, I had some embarrassment with my work among potters. My friend Greg Cycle called it toaster ware because its low fired…because it’s bright. Now, and then when I went to Archie Brae, it was supposed to be the mecca of high fire, Asian influenced ceramic work. There were a lot of people using the electric kiln and doing brightly colored things. I was kind of surprised. But that’s the kind of change that’s come in ceramics. Anything is possible now, and there are all these different categories, and some schools emphasize that kind of work. Some schools emphasize more high fire work.

WILLIHNGANZ: Now, the high fire work, does that, is that required for…or are you barred from doing bright colors with high fire work?

FREDERICK: You’re limited, you’re limited. The last, the last configuration of my kiln was what was called the Soda Kiln. That’s the kind of salt firing. Salt firing is that heavily worked, like German jugs, and like the old jugs, early American jugs, that kind of pebbly orange peel surface, that’s the kind of surface you get in salt. And it’s highly valued by ceramic artists, and it’s quite beautiful, like wood firing is also very beautiful. When you tell people about wood firing, they say, ‘Oh, it sounds so exciting,’ and then you show them the work and they say, ‘Oh, its brown.’ And potters love it; it’s a kind of niche appreciation for that. It’s very beautiful work, more akin to Asian, early Asian ceramics. Jack (Unintelligible) of course, do it all, paint on things, and contemporary Japanese artists are highly imaginative and do beautiful things in high fire sculptural, highly glazed. But high fire is more traditional in a Soda kiln, which is like a Salt kiln, but it uses soda, how can I explain it? Its…salt has two ingredients, and a Soda kiln only gives you one. Sorry to be so untechnical in this, but in a Soda kiln you can…I got very bright colors; blues, yellows, very nice bright colors.

WILLIHNGANZ: The salt, or the, whatever you refer to…

FREDERICK: You have different ways of getting the salt or soda into the kiln, usually it’s with a kind of steel tool that you put into the kiln and dump the salt out. There are ways of, and what it does is combine with the atmosphere of the fire and it glazes the pieces. It, it, the sodium whatever in the salt adheres to the silica on the surface of the clay, and gives it a surface.


FREDERICK: That’s a poor explanation but that’s the…

WILLIHNGANZ: But that gives you a hard ridges, kind of a strong surface…

FREDERICK: Yeah, it’s a hard…Yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: And it makes your pieces heavier, doesn’t it?

FREDERICK: Not necessarily. No, they don’t have to be heavier, uh, high fire work is just tends to be a bit heavier. I can bring some pieces up and show you.

WILLIHNGANZ: Alright, we can take the camera down and…

FREDERICK: Yeah, and look, and have a look at different kinds of work…that would be fun…


FREDERICK: So, then I began to use that kiln and I, and I sold it to a young potter, Suzy Hatcher. And she, that kiln…she has it up in her yard in Crescent Hill. And I don’t have that kind of kiln now. But, I’m going to build with some friends up in (Unintelligible) of some friends who are going to build me a kiln. This was after my Rude Osolnik Award, they said we’re giving, we’re building this kiln for you, so…October, I think, is the target date for starting…that’d be a small kiln right outside my studio…

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s terrific though…

FREDERICK: Yeah, and it’d be like my own little oven, not big. My other kiln was so big, that to load it up…and the heavy shelves and all that. I just couldn’t take it on without help, and I, I’m not that productive on my own, to make enough work to fill a kiln…

WILLIHNGANZ: Do you have to get special Fire Marshal clearance or whatever for installing a kiln? I would expect it…

FREDERICK: Only if you use any gas, otherwise you do it and hope for the best.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow…does that change your home owners insurance?

FREDERICK: I have wood stove and that’s, that’s cleared with my home insurance. You don’t usually talk about that. There are three ceramic kilns in that, or there are four right in Crescent Hill…big ones.


FREDERICK: And usually you use propane instead of, because, the gas…that requires all kind of dealing with City, City people and it’s not very reliable. It’s down at certain times…you can’t count on it for pressure. So…but kiln’s can be fired with oil. A lot of people are using uhm, oil, cooking oil. There are all kind of ways that the burners for the kiln can be fired.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. Okay, um, there are questions that I’m supposed to be asking you .

FREDERICK: Okay, alright.

WILLIHNGANZ: I mean it’s lovely to hear to you talk and you certainly have your history clear in your head.

FREDERICK: Yeah. I didn’t talk about Rude.

WILLIHNGANZ: No and I would like you to talk about Rude. Maybe, lets just do that. Why don’t you talk a little about Rude?

FREDERICK: Okay. Well I, I didn’t have a lot of brush with Rude…Rude to tell you the truth. When I’d just gotten out of college and I was living at home that summer, uh, I heard there was a conference in Berea. I think it was about organizing the Kentucky Guild, and I went and I stayed…

WILLIHNGANZ: So, this would have been in 1960?

FREDERICK: No, it would have been in 1957.


FREDERICK: So, um yeah, it was way back and I know that I went to a meeting and sat in the back of the room, and I listened to these people, and I know one of them was Rude Osolnik. That’s all I know. Soon after that, as you know, I moved to Boston, and I wasn’t back in that scene for another ten or twelve years. And early on I knew Rude as a person who made very nice Danish, modern kind of wood. And over the time, when I was working in my clay business, my professional life, I, I had…I screened out a lot of the world. I just didn’t know what a lot of people were doing. But…I had, in the beginning especially, I had to say no to everything. But Rude developed into a really fabulous wood artist of, you know, national significance making very, very beautiful things.


FREDERICK: That’s really about all I have to say. At one time, Joel Evans, a wood carver, wanted to get me a date with Rude…this is just shortly before he died. That didn’t happen .

WILLIHNGANZ: Well …opportunity…another road not taken.

FREDERICK: I, I know his son Joel through, from my years in Berea. I have a real fondness for Berea.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah, it’s sort of the heart of the crafts world for this state.

FREDERICK: Yes it is. Yes it is, definitely, and I’m so glad the Artisan’s Center is there.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yes, it is nice to have it there. Although, I was surprised to learn that a lot of local craft people weren’t that happy with it.

FREDERICK: Well, I see, Yeah it takes, Yeah it takes…there has to be a way because people like to go to studios. There has to be a way to get that word out, and probably the Artisan’s Center doesn’t give it out. I know that…

WILLIHNGANZ: They do a certain amount, but they’re running their own business, and it is in some ways a competition.

FREDERICK: Did they…Yeah…and the Art and Craft Foundation in the early days, I have to say they would not give out artist information at all, they didn’t want any competition.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow, how did that work?

FREDERICK: Well, they were a great sales gallery and…

WILLIHNGANZ: This is now which organization?

FREDERICK: Well, it’s now the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. In the beginning it was called The Craft Foundation, Kentucky Foundation for Art and Craft, Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. And they, they would market business, but they wouldn’t tell you who the artist was?

FREDERICK: Yeah, they marketed…no, no, no, it wasn’t that. They just didn’t want to give out addresses, which is alright. You know, galleries have a right to protect their business, but they didn’t…that was just, that was their policy at the time. They didn’t particularly, they didn’t want people to go to the studio and buy them, because they thought we would sell more cheaply, which we might have. I mean, once I became more professional, I knew that I mustn’t do that. I might for my brother-in-law or my sister, but I learned not to do that because that wasn’t fair. Another argument that we had in crafts in Louisville was, a gallery would say you can only sell at my gallery, which is fine for a painter, but a craft artist needs to sell lots of stuff, and you had to stand your ground on that. I’m going to sell at the Crafts Foundation gallery, and I’m going to sell at the Swanson-Cralle, where they give me shelves, where I have shelves. So, I managed to get around that, because that really…a person living in Louisville, Kentucky…and if they don’t have a wider market can’t make a living through one gallery and their studio really. You know, they have to rely on art fairs and a lot of travelling.

WILLIHNGANZ: Well, it surprised me the number of people that I’ve interviewed, who are notable artists, who were creating beautiful work, who can’t support themselves on the work they create. They still got a day job to bring in some money…Yeah there is, it’s…

FREDERICK: Yeah, there’s a lot of that. I lucked out. I think it was being a little bit older, being desperate, having two children and no money and, and um…I think I’m good at marketing. I think that was my gift. I knew, I kind of knew the avenue in a way…the politics…and that helped.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay. Did you ever apprentice with anyone?

FREDERICK: No, I didn’t… I didn’t…and when I needed help, I didn’t feel I could have people for no money. The apprentice system doesn’t work all that well in this country. Its…it can work if, um, if it’s a single artist who is established. Like, I can mention Silvie Graniaelli who, um…is an artist living in Virginia…makes very beautiful work. She has, what might be called an apprentice. She has one person at a time. Several artists do this. John Glick does that. One artist at a time who works in the studio…they’re often given a place to live in exchange for doing some grunt work and their own work. But, I needed more help that. I could let my…usually my number one employee, the person who was throwing had time, lets say in the evening to do, it seemed to be guys right straight through to do their own work. But, they were working for me during the day, because that was the need. I felt I needed to pay them because I knew what it was like to be poor. So, I paid as well as I could, ending up…this was in the 80s…paying people at the top $10 and $12 an hour.


FREDERICK: And, when we got really super busy in the late 80s, I devised a plan to give my employees a percentage of what I made. How did it work? Seemed like a brilliant idea. I took a certain percentage over what I earned, and gave them that…was on top of their salary. There was a percentage that they earned, to compensate them for working longer hours and really…

WILLIHNGANZ: Have you had any continuing education experiences, such as workshops, or a week or two at specialized art institutions like Penland or Arrowmont?

FREDERICK: Yes. I’ve been to Penland twice, and it was a wonderful experience. Once I went with Wayne. Wayne was teaching hand-building, and a friend of mine named Debbie Gruever was teaching throwing forms upstairs at Penland. And I think I was a guest artist for that, I can’t remember. That was fun. And I was a guest artist for a potter named Mike Imes who taught at Penland one summer. So…and then…I went as a student in 1995 to study with a man named Ed Everly, who is a well known ceramic artist, I guess my age or older. He’s very highly thought of. He paints on pots in that really fabulous way…has a great technique. That was great, and those kinds of workshops. I recommend that everyone keep being a student. I mean even if you’re a, whatever your status in life, and…a two week workshop is like half a semester, and if you can go someplace for a whole summer…most people can’t get gone that much its, its wonderful. Because places like that, the Tennessee center, that experience I had very early in my career, and I was able to leave. I mean I was just doing what I could to make money at that point. That was probably in…when would that have been? Very early 80s or late 70s when I went there, and I was there like two or three months. So, I’ve done that. I went to Alfred…seems to me there were a couple of others, but Yeah that’s, that’s very important.

WILLIHNGANZ: Have you travelled in this country or overseas, and had that affected your work?

FREDERICK: I travel to look at the landscape mostly. Um, Montana was a fabulous experience, travel wise landscape wise…

WILLIHNGANZ: I’ve been to Helena, and I…

FREDERICK: Yeah. It just blew me away. I loved it so much. I traveled in…my other great experiences…um…traveling in Central and South America. I’ve been to Ecuador. Um. I’ve been to Mexico. My best experience in Mexico was in the state of Veracruz. I was invited as a result of my time at Banff, Canada. Mexico…our art organizations have a lot of exchange back and forth. So, from being at Banff, I was invited to salt glazing, salt kiln building workshop in Veracruz, in the state of Veracruz, where in spite of the low fire red-ware that’s made everywhere in Mexico, there’s a group of art potters who…um…want to do high fire work, and we built a salt kiln and we had a show. Veracruz is a fabulous unknown state. I couldn’t even get post cards there…very beautiful. Jalapa the capital, they call it the Athens of Mexico. So, on the eastern edge of the mountain range in that coast, that curved coast, it’s where the Olmecs were.

WILLIHNGANZ: Have you ever been to Chihuahua, to the Mada Ortiz?

FREDERICK: I haven’t been to Mada Ortiz, but in my recent trip to Tuscan, and yeah, to Tuscan, I saw a lot of…and then I went to Santa Fe the next year…maybe on that same trip. Yeah. I’ve been to Santa Fe twice, and seen a lot there.

WILLIHNGANZ: It’s fascinating to me because, uh, I’ve been told that their pottery…they don’t do it on a wheel.

FREDERICK: No. No. It’s hand built.

WILLIHNGANZ: Its all hand built? And yet you look at this and there’s no way you can know its not…

FREDERICK: Yes…oh yeah…Wayne’s been there.

WILLIHNGANZ: yeah, well yeah, he… in the 80s spent quite a bit of time there.

FREDERICK: He’s been there…yeah, yeah, yeah.

WILLIHNGANZ: Does your work, does the function of objects play a part in your work?

FREDERICK: Well, it did in the beginning, but that was my training. And what I say about my work is that the charm of it…I think of many of these pieces was that they were functional but…I’m looking for…can’t find that other one. They’re functional, but they’re bought because of how they looked more than their actual function. This for instance, is not really a good example of a salad bowl. It’s bought, it was purchased to sit on a table and look grand.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, it’s terrific. I think it’s great.


WILLIHNGANZ: How do you do this glazing, this gold glazing?

FREDERICK: Well this was a really lucky accident. Uh, up on Frankfort Avenue where Barbara Slowers is right now, a little ceramic shop was going out of business. And, I needed some liner glaze. That’s the kind of glaze you pour on the inside of things to make it water proof. And I picked up a box of, um…Harrison Bell Wasters glaze and it just worked like crazy on the two clays I used…very, very beautiful…made in England.

WILLIHNGANZ: Yeah. It’s gorgeous.

FREDERICK: Really great. Yeah. I used a lot of it on different forms.

WILLIHNGANZ: Does your work carry any sort of message: gender, race, ethnicity, spirituality, humor, environmental, political…anything like that?

FREDERICK: Well, I think of myself as a story teller. Uh so, I mean personally…I love, you know, relating stories about my life, myself, other people…things I’ve heard. So, I’m trying to tell a story of things I’ve seen. Mostly, that’s landscape work. No. It doesn’t carry any ethnic or spiritual message.

WILLIHNGANZ: What about this piece right here?

FREDERICK: Okay. This is a very recent piece. In the, in the early 90s I was invited to be in a show at Celestial Seasonings, and I made a bunch of teapots and glazed them, and sent them out there. And one of them was bought by Celestial Seasonings. I have always been fascinated with their boxes, and thought they were beautiful, and I had one blank left. When I did that work it drove me nearly crazy. It was so close, but I’ve actually come to like that kind of work. So I just, uh, glazed this one about a year ago, and it was really fun. It took months to finish…literally months. But, like I said, you know I have the time now. At the other time, I was trying to do it in the midst of twenty other things.

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s terrific. Have they seen this? Do they know you’ve done this?

FREDERICK: Well, they bought one of my pieces from before…

WILLIHNGANZ: I was going to say, I would think they would want to buy that.

FREDERICK: Well, yeah. I think this is much nicer than the one they did buy. But, um, they’re now making really homely, ordinary boxes. I don’t know if you’ve seen, but--.you can find a few of the teas in their old boxes, but they’ve got, they’ve there it’s over.


FREDERICK: So that was really, this was really fun and I like doing this.

WILLIHNGANZ: Is this for Lemon Zinger?

FREDERICK: Lemon Zinger. Yeah, that’s it. I was very happy with the way it came out. And it’s functional. It’s a little heavy. But, I’ll probably hold onto this. I don’t have much work left. I had…I mean I’m lucky nearly was sold, but um…I uh…what was I leading towards. Anyway, I’m asked often for, um, pieces for auction, and sometimes someone…I really like…will call…liked happened recently to get something for Black Acre, …which is uh, an organization and a place that I have connections with. So, I pulled into my collection and pulled out another little piece, and there it went.

WILLIHNGANZ: There it went.

FREDERICK: There it went…um…this piece…my earliest, I would say, professional work, was porcelain glazed in bright and colorful glazes like this bowl…made big and small bowls. But, what I’ve…

WILLIHNGANZ: Simply gorgeous. It really is.

FREDERICK: I know. I know beautiful color. And um, I had discovered with a friend…this sand quarry in Southern Indiana, in Elizabeth, Indiana. It was where they mined a very fine…there was a very fine bed of white silica sand, which is not the kind of sand you’d find around here…some kind of glacial deposit. It was mined and refined, and used by Colgate in their soaps, and taken down to Jeff to be used. But, they had stopped using it. I guess Colgate had closed, and so this, this sand quarry was left. And so here’s this white sand, this bed of white sand with water in it…with no impurities, it was blue. These little blue ponds…it looked like the Mediterranean, so you’ve got this Indiana farm field, and down into the…this, uh, fabulous…so this is a piece I did…several plates. I have a photograph downstairs that I’ll show you, that shows that it was a beautiful place. When somebody would come, and my friend that I went with, had a big box camera, and when the farmer might came and say, ‘What are you doing in here?’ We’d say, ‘We’re from the National Geographic’ . That was…um…so, that’s a, that’s a kind of driving force for me, looking at the landscape, making…making…and you can see that in my slideshow…things I think about. I did develop, uh later, a way of working with the figure that worked for me, and that was looking at primitive art and making pieces like that, that you know, didn’t have to…you didn’t have to have a hand and an elbow exactly right. It was just kind of structural. I have one slide of a piece like that I made, not much but…that, that worked pretty well and I could get back into that. I love the Mexican pieces, the large figures I saw in Vera Cruz…totally awesome. I have photographs of them.

WILLIHNGANZ: Let me uh just…

FREDERICK: It’s going at all times…notebooks…You’ll get it in my slideshow. Why don’t we put in a tape and…

WILLIHNGANZ: See if I can catch this here, I guess I can…Okay, lets do that. And, uh, you want to tell me, uh, about these?

FREDERICK: Yes. In, in the middle of, um, my production work, I did do some stone ware. So these…this is a set of dishes that was shown at Art and Craft, and just to show you tableware in general. This is a young woman from Minnesota, who I carried into the, um, dinner work show so, there are people still making really beautiful table ware. This is an early bowl I made from the same period as the little blue bowl you saw upstairs.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow, it’s pretty.

FREDERICK: And this is, uh…soda fire. This is a kind of fruit I was talking about, the Mexican fruit that’s a fairly recent…

WILLIHNGANZ: Now, did you make that, the fruit?

FREDERICK: Yes. Yeah, and I made those fruit. This is a recent plate. This is a soda fired plate, um, beautiful black glaze. See this…this kind of, um, shiny surface that it has from the sodium? This is a glaze, but this was raw clay, just with a decoration, a slip decoration there. And this is a wood fired piece by Davey Reneau…this is, this is what I mean about wood. What…what you admire is this, the way the ash melts onto the piece…and the variation in color. I think wood fire would be really nice for sculpture. I think if I did more large sculpture it would be nice to have access to that kind of kiln. Here’s a Wayne Mada Ortiz, not quite my Ortiz, but…He gave me this as a gift a long time ago.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow, that’s some gift.

FREDERICK: Isn’t that great?

WILLIHNGANZ: That’s just fabulous…Boy, that really is Mada Ortiz.

FREDERICK: Yeah. I mean, just the thought of all that. This is my latest fruit…this was an obsession I had. The box is clay, too. I saw one of these gift boxes, and I said, ‘If I could make that I could get a NEA grant’. They don’t give them out anymore. And this is a different kind of surface that I’ve used here. This is, uh, a surface called Terra Sigillata. It’s a fine grained clay slip, colored with different oxides. I really had a lot of fun. I had to make, um…probably, let’s see. This is fifteen. I probably had to make forty pieces of fruit to get fifteen that were right. The first box I made cracked in the kiln because I made a mistake, so I had to make it again.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow. But, boy…it looks great.

FREDERICK: Yeah. I think it looks pretty good. And, um, this is uh…this is a hanging by, um…Alma Lesch…not typical of her work. She was the first Rudy Osolnik winner. And I took stitchery classes from her at the Louisville School of Art.

WILLIHNGANZ: Hmm…pretty.

FREDERICK: And I always thought that the Rude Osolnik award was for old people, and I never even thought about getting one because I thought, ‘Well, I’m not old enough’. But, I’m probably older than a lot of people who’ve received ‘em. Uh…you could photograph my cupboard, which is very beautiful, and full of…I mean everything in my cupboard is handmade. I don’t know if there’s quite enough light…but these are my dishes and teapots…

WILLIHNGANZ: And you’ve made all these?

FREDERICK: Oh no! No. Only here and there…I’ve not made that much functional work. There are things I’ve collected, bought, traded…

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow…interesting.

FREDERICK: This isn’t very nicely arranged, but I love my new cupboards, and everything fits so beautiful in here. I should have arranged it better. There are one or two things in there I made.

WILLIHNGANZ: Which things did you make?

FREDERICK: Uh, I made this little pitcher up here, and, uh, this bowl. This is wood fired, ash… I made two bowls like that really. So, I work that way sometimes. Oh, and I have a beautiful shelf over here…you should really photograph. This shelf is awesome…and then up above too.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh wow…Yeah, I’ll get that in a second…And these are from all sorts of different artists that you’ve collected?

FREDERICK: Yes, uh-huh. I did the two black and white ones and the pink persimmon cup, next to one of them. I like to draw on things. The pink flamingo is where my inspiration for painting came from…that’s Sandy Simon. I often use that black and white form to um…so I can draw and tell stories.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow…these are fascinating.

FREDERICK: Yeah. I know…That’s a salt glaze, the second teapot there, that’s a real typical salt glaze look.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow, look at that blue. Oh I love that handle.

FREDERICK: Yeah isn’t that great? That’s Silvie Granatelli, the artist I mentioned that has an apprentice.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh my gosh.

FREDERICK: The red one was an early piece of mine, I sold little red cups like that at George Jenson in New York when I was a baby potter.

WILLIHNGANZ: What’s the face?

FREDERICK: Uh it’s, uh…Ron Meyers, a wonderful ceramic artist from Georgia who draws on things. He made this fabulous plate up here…the lady and the lion.

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh that one. Yes, I saw that one. Yeah, that’s terrific.

FREDERICK: And that’s a Picasso on the wall. Not an original, but you know, one of an edition. He worked in galleries at a pottery.

WILLIHNGANZ: I didn’t know he did any pottery.

FREDERICK: He would do. Yeah, he would do one. He would do a drawing. They would make the plate and he would do a drawing, then he’d say okay, you can cast a hundred of these.

WILLIHNGANZ: Wow…neat stuff.

FREDERICK: I have to figure what to do with all this.

WILLIHNGANZ: Why do you have to do anything with it?

FREDERICK: Well, I mean I have to make a will and my children had a horrible, horrible time with their father’s estate when he died. It was awful, so I have to…

WILLIHNGANZ: Oh, sorry to hear it.

FREDERICK: Yeah. They’re just getting over it.

WILLIHNGANZ: Okay, great stuff.

FREDERICK: Yeah. Would you like to have some plums?

WILLIHNGANZ: No, I don’t think so.

FREDICK: To take with you? You don’t, I mean. I don’t mean…do you like plums?

WILLIHNGANZ: Uh…I probably wouldn’t eat them. Okay, well thank you so much for taking me into your house and showing me all your stuff. It’s been terrific. This has been a great interview.

FREDERICK: Thank you so much. Thanks for letting me tell all my stories…

[End of Interview Part II]