Shawn Ireland Pottery

Artist Statement

I make pots with food, flowers and candles in mind. I choose to make these pots with a foundation in folk tradition. For me, this involves using a variety of hand processed local clays and glaze materials, single firing in a wood burning kiln, and using a kick wheel. These ingredients promote surprises and keep my craft connected to the natural world.

My pots continue to change over time under the influence of pottery making traditions adopted from my teachers Will Ruggles and Douglass Rankin. Several trips to central Italy have inspired a figurative direction in the form of candlesticks, vases and bowls.

The clay I mix by hand is a blend of ingredients from North Carolina and Georgia. Thirty percent of the body is local red earthenware. The nontoxic glazes, which melt at 2300 degrees, are composed primarily of these local ingredients: feldspar, silica, red clay, kaolin and ash from my woodstove. Other more processed materials are mixed with these.

The pots are fired in a two chambered kiln fueled with wood which is salvaged from burn piles at a nearby sawmill. The combination of wood flame and ash, which melts into the clay and glaze, 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. This unpredictability and variation makes every kiln load a new opportunity to explore.

The pots are oven and dishwasher safe. Though I have never had a problem with daily microwave use, I can’t recommend it. Do not heat the pots on an open flame or electric burner and avoid extreme temperature changes such as freezer to preheated oven. Feel free to email if you have pottery questions.

Artist Bio

Born: Lancaster,PA.
BFA Kutztown University 1990.

1990-1995 Attended 25 pottery and painting workshops at Penland School of Crafts.

In 1991, after a two month workshop with Will Ruggles & Douglass Rankin, I fell in love with clay and fire and was determined to be a wood fire potter.

1993-1995 lived at Penland as part of the CORE STUDENT work exchange program.

1996-1999 RESIDENT ARTIST at Penland School of Crafts.
Built a catenary arch wood kiln and made pots full time, experimenting with local clay & glaze materials. Also began to explore oil painting.

1997 Established Shawn Ireland Pottery.

since 1994 Participated in numerous National Exhibitions & Craft Shows including Mint Museum Potters Market-NC, Smithsonian Craft Show, Philadelphia Museum Craft Show, Spruce Pine Potters Market-NC & Demarest Show-NJ.

2006-2008 VISITING ARTIST INTERNSHIP: University of Georgia 
I spent three semesters potting and oil painting in beautiful Cortona, Italy. 

2012 & 2013 STUDIO COORDINATOR: University of Georgia, Cortona, Italy. 

2015 Resident Artist Coordinator: Scuola Internazionale di Grafica. Venice, Italy.


The Pottery Showroom and Studio are open daily 10-5

Paintings are available to view by appointment. Email me.

EVENTS for 2015

We are currently living in Venice, Italy for a 3 month painting Residency at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica  Back to pottery in April.

Pottery will still be available in the showroom.

Mar 5-15 Shawn Ireland a Venezia. paintings,drawings & prints. Scuola Grafica Gallery. Venice, Italy


July 18-19 Home Sale with Bandana Pottery

October 10-11 Spruce Pine Potters Market

You are welcome to visit my studio any time. The showroom is full of pottery. There are also pots available at the following galleries:

AKAR Gallery. Iowa City, IA

American Folk. Asheville,NC


Shawn Ireland Pottery
134 Penland Road
Bakersville NC 28705  828 765-5737

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Send an email to Shawn Ireland


Visit for more information & to purchase Pots or Paintings online.