Artist Spotlight: Arryn Vogan

I don’t remember the first time I met Arryn, but I’m guessing it was in an art class at Houghton College.  Over the year and a half of my time there, we shared several art classes, and even lived across the hall from each other for a semester.  When Eric would come and visit me at school, Arryn’s now-husband Andrew let Eric stay with him.  Believe me when I say that they are the nicest of people.  Arryn was even nice enough to let me interview her.  I asked her a bunch of questions, so it’s a pretty long interview, but I hope you’ll look it over.  Arryn is an amazing potter, and has a very distinct and beautiful collection of work.  She also has a great art blog, and an Etsy shop if you’re interested in purchasing any of her gorgeous work!

Arryn with four of her lanterns

Bio: Arryn (Prince) Vogan  Age:  23  I grew up in Severna Park, MD (about 15 min. outside of Annapolis).  My family (other than my in-laws) consists of my parents (Brian & Michele) and my two brothers (older, Ian – younger, Austin).  Graduated from Houghton College in 2009 with my Bachelors of Arts.  I majored in Art with a concentration in ceramics studying under Professor Gary Baxter.  I minored in Business Administration.  I have also been an athlete most of my life.  I played field hockey for 12 years, 4 of those years were on scholarship for Houghton College.  I worked at Annapolis Pottery in Downtown Annapolis, MD for a time in between years at school and after I graduated.  I was married to Andrew Vogan in December of 2009 and we are now living in Exeter, NH.  Andrew is on staff with Young Life and I am working towards building my name as an artist and my business.

At what age did you realize that you loved art? I can’t remember a specific age…I feel like it has always been a passion that has just grown with me.  When I was really little, about 4, I was so into coloring, play-dough, and watercolors.  Do you remember those coloring books for watercolors?  I had a Beauty and the Beast one.  All you needed was a cup of water and a paintbrush and you could paint the pages with water and the colors would come off the page and bleed into a watercolor.  I thought those were the coolest things!  If I had a chance to create something and get messy, then that was a great day!

We were in a few art classes together in college, and you showed talent in all areas of art.  What made you choose to focus on ceramics? Yes, we were at Houghton for two years together.  You lived across the hall from me too!  It is funny how I chose ceramics.  I actually wanted to concentrate on painting and charcoal. As an art student we were required to take several different art courses, so I signed up to take ceramics.  I had never done it before and always thought it looked like fun.  So, I took my first class and HATED IT!!!  I actually dreaded going to that class every day (most unlike me when it comes to art).  I was terrible at it! I had a good eye for design, but could never make it happen in clay!  I could not center clay on the wheel for the life of me.  If you can’t center the clay, then you really can’t make a single thing on the wheel.  This will probably sound cocky but this was my thought:  I can’t believe I am bad at this!  I have always been good at art.  Art is my thing!  How can I possibly be this bad at pottery!? So, I was determined to be good at it.  I signed up for another course and hated the first half of it again.   (My critiques were terrible too which was depressing).  Then one day I was throwing next to my friend Kim and she gave me a couple tips that have helped her.  (This was after I was literally thrown off my stool trying to center this embarrassingly small lump of clay).  I tried her tips and everything clicked!  I centered the clay in no time!  You couldn’t get me off the wheel after that! That is when I started to love it.  I think I had to hate it first and get through that battle.

Explain your process. Hmmm…my process.  That is a big question!  I will explain how I go about working in the studio since the next question talks about specialty.  First of all I like to start in a clean studio and then let the mess unfold as I go.  When I start with clean tools, it is like starting with a blank canvas, you start fresh not in the middle of another mess that you need to first find order to be able to start.  I sketch and draw a lot!  Once I am ready to make the piece I cut and weight out the desired clay, wedge it, throw it, let it dry out a bit (work on something else), trim, stamp it with my logo, let it dry out all the way, bisque fire, glaze, glaze fire, finish the pot with any more grinding or sanding.  That is the whole process in a nutshell.

You specialize in Crystalline glazing.  What is Crystalline glazing? I think what most people think of “regular” glazes are straight up colors.  There are tons of characteristics for glazes.  For example:  high fire, low fire, oxidation, reduction, raku, wood, sagger, matte, crystalline, etc.  That names a handful of them.  Crystalline glazes have intrigued and challenged me.  There are actual crystals that form in the glaze.  This happens from high contents of zinc oxide and Ferro Frit 3110.  During a complicated 22 hour firing cycle, the kiln will hold at 2012 degrees for up to 4 hours .  At this held temperature, the crystals mature and can grow as large as 6 cm. in diameter.

What is your favorite part of being an artist? My favorite part of being an artist is being able to stay creative and make something with my own hands!  It is being able to used God-given talents for His glory.  I love trying out new ideas and methods and just experimenting.  It is also such a joy to see someone else enjoy something that I have created.  I especially love to create because there is such a connection to the natural world that God himself has created.  In nature you will never find one blade of grass the same as the next and that astounds me!  In crystalline glazing there is never one crystal that forms the same as another!

What is your favorite thing to make? I don’t know if I really have a favorite thing to make.  I have really loved making lanterns lately.  The whole process and design is new for me so the challenge is there and I like that.  I like to always try throwing something new whether that is more weight on the wheel, a new shape or trying to accurately fit pieces together (like a lid for a pot or a top to a lantern).  I really love just to hop on the wheel and see what will happen, try to feel the direction the clay pulls my hands.

Arryn made this mirror with her father, a wood worker

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from anyone about art? The best piece of advice was, “Just do it!”  Also in regards to selling items, “Own your price.  If you set a price for pottery you have labored over and put hours into, don’t feel bad by putting a fair price tag on your piece.  People will either pay it and recognize the hard work, or move on.  There is nothing you can do about it, but stand by your work.”  A fellow artist told me that and it has definitely encouraged me to not sell myself short.

One of my favorite artists of all times is the glass blower Dale Chihuly.  This isn’t exactly advice, but these are two of my favorite quotes by him:  “Important ideas come from some flash in the pan-some moment- and something that you can’t describe.”  Also, “I can’t understand it when people say they don’t like a particular color…How on earth can you not like a color?”

What is your favorite piece? My favorite piece is actually this hideous platter that I made.  It is really a junk item, that got broken, but I absolutely loved how the glaze came out and I have never been able to quite reproduce it.  I glued it back together so I could keep it.  I just couldn’t part with it.

Thanks, Arryn!  And everyone else, if you haven’t gone to her blog or store GO NOW!  I’ve only given you a small sampling of her work, and there is plenty more to be seen!


About Melody

My name is Melody Martin. Check out my art blog, and learn all about the steps and techniques that go into oil paintings.
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One Response to Artist Spotlight: Arryn Vogan

  1. arrynvogan says:

    thanks Melody! It was great to be a spotlight on your blog! I am glad we have remained in touch and have reconnected through our blogs and work!

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