Iowa City, IA
Bill Campbell has been a potter for over 30 years. Across the country, his porcelain is admired for its spectacular color and elegant, crisp forms... each piece maintaining some of the energy of its creator. The glazes dance with surprising vibrancy in unexpected patterns. Functional pots become little moments of celebration within the day to day routine.
Once I discovered that making pottery was what I wanted to do with my life, I became committed. I broke all ties with my past (job-wise) and spent every moment trying to learn my craft. I went back to college, then I worked at organizing my life so I could go somewhere and make pots. That meant that everything that got in the way had to be forgotten for about four years. I didn't buy a new TV or car or take a vacation--the only allowable expenses beyond those necessary for daily life were for supplies and equipment as I saved toward the day I could buy a studio building. Keeping that goal in the front of my mind was hard. It is easy to buy something that is fun rather than putting money aside toward a goal that seems years away, I guess being older helped.
By the time I was out of school, I was 36 and I felt I didn't have too many years left to squander if my dream was going to come true. I was 40 before I really got my studio business rolling. I found my studio in the form of an old powerhouse in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, near where I went to school. It has been both a growing and learning process and yes, I have made some mistakes along the way, but I have always refused to cut corners in any way that affects the high quality and brilliance of the pottery I produce.
My motive in making pottery is not terribly noble. I am merely try to cause a little celebration in everyday living. You can't imagine what I feel when my customers tell me how much they enjoy using one of my pots in their daily routine. When designing pots, I am always aware of the possibilities and limitations of the wonderful/dreadful layered glaze I employ. An enigmatic mistress, it is very fussy about the body it resides upon. It often crawls, blisters and crazes and the color isn't always reliable. Though demanding. it is however, just too vibrant and exciting to simply dismiss as too troublesome. This means that everything must be technically perfect in order to achieve its full potential. Because I refuse to compromise in these processes, I have had to learn clay production and firing techniques that are not used in most studio potteries.