I love everything about the process of making pots.There are many stages in the process, and each stage comes with opportunities to explore and decisions to be made. Those decisions are not made by myself alone, but in collaboration with the clay. I try to make pots which reflect each of those decisions.
The clay itself has a voice, a character, which determines much about the look and feel of the finished pots.
While I enjoy working with many different types of clay, the one I use the most is an iron-rich stoneware clay with good plasticity and a fair amount of grit. The plasticity makes it easy to shape, the grit gives it a little extra strength and also highlights the facets and cut lines from trimming. This stoneware clay matures at a higher temperature than most clays, and the iron in the clay body gives it a rich brown color. These qualities allow me to use a glaze palette and firing techniques that mimic historical folk pots from Korea and Japan, as well as the traditions from the Carolinas where I was born and raised. I find a surprising amount of similarities between these traditions, which are often a source of inspiration.
To be honest, there's nothing particularly special about my pottery wheel, other than how I use it.
I use the same standard electric wheel that is almost ubiquitous in any ceramic studio in the country. It does not have any special adjustments, nor does it have high-end power. What makes me a little unique is that I use slower speeds than most contemporary potters. In graduate school I realized that most of the pots I am inspired by are several centuries old, made on human powered pottery wheels that don't have nearly the RPMs that electric wheels have. So I taught myself to slow the wheel down while keeping my movements relatively quick. The result is a slightly more gestural pot, with a little more emphasis on tool marks and less emphasis on perfect symmetry. To me this makes the pots feel more fresh and alive.
I still have the very first pottery wheel I bought (used) over 30 years ago, and it's still going strong. While in some ways it is "just a tool," in others ways it's like an old friend.