Watershed and The Color Network receive $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Watershed was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a three-week artist residency organized by members of The Color Network (TCN).

TCN supports BIPOC artists working in clay by providing resources, visibility, and professional development opportunities. They are also building a mentorship pipeline that links experienced and emerging ceramists. During their residency at Watershed this summer, participating artists will have unlimited access to our new state-of-the-art studio to work on independent and collaborative projects. They will also take part in group work focused on developing mentor-mentee relationships.

“I think it’s so important to have mentors you identify with,” shares TCN steering committee member Natalia Arbelaez. “BIPOC artists will sometimes be the only ones like them in their community or institution. Having support from someone who has already navigated similar experiences is so valuable.”

Natalia Arbelaez, “Ceremonies for González”, performance, 2019


Fellow TCN artist Adam Chau agrees, “When I was in school, it was very hard to have intimate critiques with people who didn’t necessarily understand my culture. I hope that our mentorship can be a supplement to artists who find themselves not being able to resonate with their peers or immediate community.”

Adam Chau, “TXT”, porcelain, cobalt, white gold luster, 2018, photo: Jorrit Taekema


With TCN members scattered across the country, virtual meetings and online conversations have provided creative connection. However, the collective felt that making work together and spending time with one another in person was essential for mentors and mentees. The majority of TCN’s steering committee—which also includes artists April Felipe, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, and Yinka Orafidiya—had previously participated in residencies at Watershed. They agreed that our open-ended program structure and 54-acre campus would provide the ideal place to gather and develop their mentorship program.

“Until very recently, I thought I had nothing to offer as a mentor…I mean, who am I to advise anyone in a craft that I’m still figuring out myself?” Yinka Orafidiya says, “But I realized that, at a bare minimum, my value is captured by continually showing up—an offer of Black representation, which is sorely lacking in American ceramics. Through my many failures, rejections, and missteps, I have accumulated a wealth of wisdom that I now believe will be useful to the next generation of BIPOC makers.”

Yinka Orafidiya, “Freedom Cups”, Underground Railroad code printed on red stoneware, 2018


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Watershed has instituted new campus health and safety measures to accommodate physical and social distancing in accordance with Maine CDC guidelines. These changes result in a decreased number of participants but still allow for eleven artists-in-residence to spend three weeks together on campus. 

TCN intends for this residency to act as a springboard for additional virtual and in-person programs. The small group of participating artists plans to connect with their greater community and the public during the residency via livestreamed artist talks, demos, interviews, and conversations.

April Felipe, “Wade”, porcelain, cotton thread, glaze, pastel, acrylic paint, 2018


Like many arts organizations, Watershed’s programs are funded through a mix of donor support, grants, and direct fees paid by participants. By applying for grant funding, Watershed and TCN endeavored to remove financial barriers to participation. “Residencies are powerful places where artists develop their work and create deep relationships within their field,” shares April Felipe, who first took part in a Watershed session in 2016. “For many BIPOC artists, cost is too large an obstacle while also navigating if the space will be welcoming and safe. We wanted to create an opportunity that could eliminate those obstacles. Funding through the NEA grant allowed us to do this and more.”

This $30,000 Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) award is one of 1073 selected projects from a pool of 1674 applications submitted in 2020. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded nearly $25 million in support for 64% of all applicants with an average grant amount of $23,190.

Salvador Jimenez-Flores, “Nopal Espacial”, brass, cast iron, rose gold plating, brass hose, 2019


Subscribe to Watershed’s e-newsletter to keep updated on ways to connect with TCN during their session and find additional NEA grant information at arts.gov

Windgate Studio Construction Update

With on-site programs on hold due to COVID-19, Watershed has taken advantage of a quiet campus to begin construction of a new state-of-the-art studio. The design for the 7,500 sq ft building includes:

  • Single-level floor plan designed for ceramic work with easy access to raw materials and kilns
  • Glaze room, plaster room, and spray booth
  • 4800 square feet of open-concept studio space
  • Full accessibility and ADA compliance
  • Energy efficient temperature regulation in all seasons
  • Comprehensive air filtration and ventilation systems

Over the summer of 2020, Watershed’s leadership worked feverishly with architect Jane Gleason of Greywork LLC to complete construction drawings for the studio building, hired JF Scott Construction of Winthrop, ME as our General Contractor, and secured necessary state and local permits. And then the real work began:


Storage containers were brought on site to care for the Factory’s contents during the construction process.

Watershed’s Founders George Mason (l), Lynn Duryea (c), and Chris Gustin (r) reminisced about the organization’s beginnings and paid their respects to the Factory.

The Studio Annex was completed in late summer 2020. Some contents from the Factory have been relocated to this fully accessibly and climate controlled building, which provides much-needed space for maintenance work and adjunct programming in all seasons.


The pace picked up in September as detailed electrical, plumbing, and mechanical plans were completed. Site work began to reveal the footprint of the new studio.


The week of October 5 was bittersweet as we bade farewell to the Factory and began work on the Windgate Studio’s foundation. A protective structure for the historic Beehive Kiln ensures its safety throughout the construction process.

While digging the new foundation, we struck clay! This beautiful vein of glacial marine clay runs along the footprint of the original studio and expanded into the land behind the barn.


Blessed with a relatively warm fall, work on the studio continued steadily throughout the month. The foundation and exterior walls were completed, steel beams were erected, plumbing and drains were installed and insulated, and a beautiful maze of radiant heat coils were set in place.



Although we had some early winter snow, work continued at a fast pace toward the goal of a fully enclosed structure before the New Year. The cement floor was poured and smoothed – all in one day!

Roof trusses moved into place, followed by windows and initial layers of roofing materials.


The new year shifted the focus of construction to the studio interior and to the breezeway connecting the studio to the kiln shed. 

Architect Jane Gleason of Greywork LLC and Studio Manager Reeder Fahnestock outside the breezeway that will connect the Kiln Shed to the Windgate Studio.


As the wall framing went up inside, we all began to get a better sense of the rooms and what 4800 sq. ft. of open studio space feels like.

Jane and Reed examine the interior space.


The final roofing and exterior siding will be completed by the end of January as the electrical and plumbing details take shape inside.

Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks and months ahead…and look forward to completion in May 2021!

Salad Days Recipes

While Salad Days won’t take place on campus this year, we can still offer our community some delicious salad dishes to make and savor at home. The following recipes come courtesy of Marguerite Grifka, a talented chef from the San Diego area who was slated to cook at Watershed in 2020.

Please share your Salad Days salads on social media! Tag them with #watershedsaladdays to add your culinary creations to our virtual picnic.

Fennel, Lobster, and Corn Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter


  • 1      Small (3”) bulb of fennel, trimmed of fronds
  • 2-3   Radishes
  • ¼      Red onion
  • 2       Corn ears
  • 6 oz   Cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped
  • 1       Lemon
  • 2-3T Mayonnaise
  • 2T     Chopped fresh thyme

Directions: Remove kernels from the corn cob and sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil for 3-5 minutes until some kernels are nicely browned. Place in a mixing bowl. Thinly slice fennel, radishes, and red onion (a Japanese mandolin works great for this) and add to bowl. Zest half the lemon into the bowl. Add the juice of half the lemon, mayo, thyme, a generous pinch of salt, and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss to combine and taste. Adjust lemon and seasoning as necessary.

Kale, Quinoa, and Cranberry Salad


  • 4 cups    Kale largest stem removed, shredded a ¼” wide
  • 2 cups    Cooked quinoa
  • 1½ cups Cooked chick peas (one can drained)
  • ½ cup     Dried sweetened cranberries
  • ¼ cup     Almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 1 bunch Parsley, chopped
  • 4            Green onions, chopped
  • ½ t         Salt
  • Citrus Vinaigrette, to taste (see recipe below)

Directions: Combine all, toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. For best results, let sit for at least an hour before serving.

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 3 T  Lemon juice
  • ½    Orange, juiced
  • 1 t  Zest from the orange, grated
  • 1 t  Garlic, minced
  • 2 t  Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • ½ t  Salt & black pepper

Add all ingredients into a jar and shake well, or combine in a blender and pulse until mixed. Use immediately or keep for a month in the fridge. This is a great one to make ahead and keep around. Let sit out a room temp 15-20 minutes to warm olive oil before using.

Arugula, Blueberries, and Chicken Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish


  • 4 oz     Arugula
  • 4 oz     Roast chicken, shredded
  • ¼ cup  Loose basil leaves
  • ½ cup  Fresh wild Maine blueberries (frozen works great too)
  • 2 oz.    Goat cheese, broken into chunks
  • 1 cup   Croutons (this is a great opportunity to use up stale bread and make your own)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Watershed’s Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)

Directions: Combine the arugula, croutons, half the chicken, goat cheese, and blueberries. Toss with ½ the dressing, a few grinds of fresh pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. Distribute the remaining chicken, cheese and berries across the top and drizzle with a little more dressing.

Watershed’s Balsamic Dressing (as remembered by Reba of Hatchet Cove Farm)

  • 1        Shallot or garlic clove
  • 2 T     Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T     Lemon juice
  • 2 t     Dijon mustard
  • 1 t     Maple syrup or other sweetener
  • ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ t     Salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 Drops of hot sauce (optional)

Directions: Place peeled shallot or garlic in the food processor or blender, and mince.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed, along with black pepper and hot sauce.

To mix by hand, place minced shallot or garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and sweetener in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Watershed History: PWA Workshop

As 2020 Pride draws to a close, we are thinking about members of the LGBTQ community who participated in Watershed’s workshop program in the ’90’s and early ’00’s for people living with HIV/AIDS. In this guest post, Watershed co-founder Lynn Duryea recalls the roots and impact of the program, as well as memories of the people who took part.

Twenty-eight years ago this month, I had one of the most profound experiences of my life: eight days spent at Watershed with a group of people with HIV/AIDS. Coming from Massachusetts and Maine, graciously funded by their AIDS service organizations, these folks were willing to join in the experiment to see how community and creativity could sustain them, no matter what their circumstances. The image of our banquet the last evening of that session is evidence of the energy and connection between workshop participants, Watershed resident artists, and staff.  

I was inspired to initiate this program during a visit to Watershed the previous summer when Gustavo Gonzales, an art therapist from New York, had been in residence with a group of people living with AIDS. I am forever grateful to Gustavo for laying the groundwork for this program that became an important part of Watershed until 2004. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of that initial workshop season, and we will be sharing more of the history and development of the program. Additional thanks go to Mackenzie Harris, a therapist, and Ellen Hirshberg, a visual artist, who worked with me to guide the program – and to the many Watershed resident artists and staff who joined with us in support. Sadly most of the participants of that 1992 workshop died long ago, but their images and memories are very much a part of Watershed’s history. They are not forgotten.

Watershed co-founder Lynn Duryea (pictured back right) with therapist Mackenzie Harris (front row right) and participants at the 1992 Watershed workshop for people living with HIV/AIDS


Here is what workshop participant Patrick Clark had to say about his time at Watershed that year: “I shed many layers of my outer casing during this workshop. I wrote, I painted, I made a few ceramic posts. I returned home vulnerable and with humility, more in touch with my being than I thought possible.”

Further Information on the program:

COVID-19 Message From Watershed’s Director

Dear Friends,
As we all adjust to a new reality with respect to the COVID-19 virus, our thoughts are with the people who make up our extended creative community across the country and world.
Along with you, we are monitoring the situation closely and will heed the advice of experts in the coming weeks and months. Our collective health and wellbeing is of paramount importance and we will make programming decisions accordingly.
Watershed events planned for the next month have been postponed. This includes a workshop for K12 educators on March 20 and our beloved Soup Bowl Supper that was scheduled for April 2. We will keep you posted about new dates.
Out of an abundance of caution, our staff members are working remotely. We will be checking the office voicemail and our emails regularly and will respond to your messages as quickly as possible.
For now, we are hopeful that our residency season will proceed as scheduled. It will be deeply disappointing for all of us if the situation requires continued social distancing into the summer and fall months. Artists who are already registered for a session are receiving separate communications from us.
During this time of uncertainty we aim to be a resource that can offer connection and community to our extended network. Please stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram, or listen to our Conversations with Legends podcasts featuring ceramics greats Wayne Higby, Jack Troy, and Paula Winokur.
Watershed will continue to share updates as we learn more about the situation and its implications for summer programming. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. 
Francine Rudoff
Executive Director
Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts

Material Intersections: 2020 Summer Session I Preview

In this guest post, Suzanne Dittenber and Susan Klein share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session I: Material Intersections. Additional participating artists include Eleanna Anagnos, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Carole d’Inverno, Nicholas Nyland, and guest artist Lauren Mabry Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from June 7-19. Learn more and register for this session.

Lauren Mabry


Our session explores the intersection of painting and ceramics. We are trained as painters and teach painting, yet clay has become an important material for both of us and we are excited to offer a residency opportunity for ceramicists, painters, and all hybrid artists. The residency will focus on painterly qualities as embodied in clay. We are inspired by the long history of artists who play with the relationship between sculpture and painting.


Susan Klein


Susan: Ceramics are a natural development in my work. I have been building structures as subjects for my paintings since undergraduate school, but it has only been in the past 3-4 years that I have let sculpture take the leading roll. Clay is the perfect material that allows for a balance of planning and improvisation. My sculpture practice is completely intertwined with painting. As a painter, response and improv are key – I rarely make an image that is preplanned. Clay takes a bit more planning, so I do prepare with drawings, yet I am able to change my mind, make mistakes, and work fluidly. I think about surface in similar way as to a painting – where is it glossy? Matte? Smooth? Gnarly? Patterned? I am able to feel my way through the process just as if I were painting. I glaze and oil paint on my ceramics – I like the mash-up of processes and surfaces.

In this workshop I look forward to fostering playfulness, placing tactile response and funky improvisation at the forefront of the process. It is also our intent to work closely with the other artists to trade ideas, collaborate, and experiment with the possibilities of a painterly, open- ended approach to ceramics.

Suzanne Dittenber


Suzanne: About four years ago, I began to fold ceramic processes into my studio work. I had been making paintings of water-damaged magazines and books. While I was interested in the translation of these sculptural forms to a two dimensional expression, I also wanted to capture their reliefs in a three dimensional capacity with their subtle undulations and variations. I began by dipping water damaged pages of Artforum in plaster and this has expanded to a mold making, slip casting process. The resulting body of work considers the minute and subtle mark-making two- dimensional surfaces, namely books and magazines, isolated from the attendant imagery and text these publications house.

Philippe Hyojung Kim


Color has long been a very prominent investigation in my practice. While my work has recently focused on a tighter range of neutrals, I am excited to nudge color back into my work in a more expressive way. At Watershed, I will be working with pigmented casting slip to create new sculptures.

Susan Klein is Assistant Professor of Painting at College of Charleston. Suzanne Dittenber is an Assistant Professor of Painting at UNC Asheville.

Learn more and register for this session.


Biomorphic Idyll: 2020 Summer Session II Preview

In this guest post, Meaghan Gates shares the inspiration and ideas that led her to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session II: Biomorphic Idyll. Additional participating artists include Sara Catapano, Angela Cunningham, Sasha Koozel Reibstein, and Andrew Leo Stansbury.

Meaghan Gates


My interest in creating biomorphic sculptural work started at the potter’s wheel back in 2008 after observing the cut off refuse of the functional forms that I had been making. Looking at these piles of clay, I was reminded of the structures of mushrooms or organisms within a coral reef. There were so many undulating symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes that I could create and arrange in formations which could become my own amalgamations of the natural world. As I veered down this path of biomorphic abstraction, I began to observe this fascination with organic forms across the field of ceramics. There is a quality to this building style that stirs an interest in the uncanny. To create something in clay that takes on its own life-like qualities and then to make it a permanent form can be an addictive act.    

Sasha Koozel Reibstein


Over the years I have made friends and acquaintances that share my interest in organically inspired forms. We have continued to follow one another’s work over the years and support each other’s creative pursuits. This residency is giving some of us the opportunity to convene and have a more in-depth dialogue about what we are actually doing. Whether we stick to a close interpretation of reality or develop work that is more abstract, those of us that are interested in this style of work have noticed commonalty in the content we are creating. Through our acute and intense studies of the natural world, inspiration can be drawn from a variety of sources; from the patterns across the surface of an organism, or variations in color, to the functionality of anatomical structures. I have seen some makers who focus on challenging themselves through the way they create a form, their conceptual aspirations, and the way in which some put it all out there for their audience to engage and interact with. The group that is coming together for Session 2 will work through these ideas and provide inspiration for one another to build off of in an intimate setting along the coast of Maine.  

Andrew Leo Stansbury


Watershed is a prime location for those who are inspired by the natural world. The facilities are surrounded by lush greenery, rivers, ponds, and the Atlantic Ocean. During our time we will have the opportunity to draw from local flora and fauna for visual content. We will also discuss with each other what our work is aiming to achieve while physically working through new ideas. From sculptural objects to performance-based mix-media work, this residency session will provide a place to create among other ceramic artists using a variety of approaches within a common theme. There will be a bit of everything within this greater theme of the organically inspired.

Regular registrations for this session have filled. Add your contact info to the wait list and Watershed will reach out to you should a space open up (and spots often do open up!) Artists interested in applying for scholarship support may still select this session as one of their choices. Join the wait list for Biomorphic Idyll today or apply for a scholarship.

Resisting: Surface & Form Explorations: 2020 Summer Session III Preview

In this guest post, Shalya Marsh and Naomi Clement share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session III: Resisting: Surface and Form Explorations. Additional participating artists include Marianne Chenard, Arthur Halvorsen, Mike Gesiakowski, Jill Oberman, Lindsay Rogers, and Adero Willard. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from July 5-17. Learn more and register for this session.

Shalya Marsh


Looking at our work side by side, there are no immediate similarities; Naomi makes brightly colored and decorated functional vessels and Shalya makes elegant abstract porcelain sculptures. However, both of us rely heavily on the use of resist techniques when making our work. Whether analog or digital, we each use resist processes to create specific imagery and develop layered surfaces. 

The idea for this session was born of this shared use of resist techniques, and our interest in working alongside other artists who use this approach in their process. Our hope is that this session will bring together makers working across the ceramic spectrum with a common interest in resist processes so that we can learn from one another. In this spirit of experimentation, a key part of this residency will be a shared “create space” that will allow participants to experiment with a variety of tools and materials such as laser and die cut paper and vinyl stencils, shellac, latex and wax resist. A Klick n Kut die cutter capable of cutting a wide range of materials and a Thermofax for easy screens for printing will be also be available for use.  All artists will be encouraged to share methods and tools to explore new avenues for their work through daily short demonstrations and conversations, as well as some collaborative exercises.

Naomi Clement


We view this residency as an opportunity to dive in and experiment with ideas and processes that are new to us, and with less of a focus on finished, resolved work. It is always amazing what new work can come from asking the simple question, “what if?” We are eager to learn from invited artists and session participants, and look forward to sharing our own knowledge with the group. Participants are encouraged to come to this residency with this same spirit of curiosity and fun!

We can’t wait to see what emerges from this residency!

Join this session today! Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first served basis. Scholarship applications are due 2/15. The session takes place during Watershed’s annual Salad Days celebration, and participating artists will get to take part in the festivities.

Agents of Change: 2020 Summer Session IV Preview

In this guest post, Bech Evans and Margaret Kinkeade share the inspiration and ideas that led the Kindred Clay collective to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session IV: Agents of Change. Additional participating artists include Christina Erives, Roberto Lugo, and Brooks Oliver. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from July 20-August 1. Learn more and register for this session.

Christina Erives


Graduate school is a kind of trench that forges friendships between the most incompatible and dissimilar people. That’s not exactly us. The members of Kindred Clay have a rare chemistry and huge admiration for each other, as makers and as people. We love each other’s work and envy each other’s skill sets. I (Bech here) have, at some point, secretly wished to be and have the experiences of each in this group.

We enjoy an uncommon diversity in our group. We’ve had conflicts and have real differences, from the way we experience the world as a result of our bodies and identities, down to our work and how we make it. Sustaining and deepening our friendships and collaborating professionally over the last eight years has required vulnerability, acceptance, personal growth, and adaptation. As we navigate through lives and careers, maintaining a group identity has involved lots of growth, trust, and forgiveness.   

Margaret Kinkeade


I (Margaret here) organized this session because I wanted two weeks of studio time and conversation. I wanted to meet you and to learn about what makes you, you. Why do you make work? Who do you make work for? We’re looking for two weeks of face-to-face conversations in a progressively distant and digital world—conversations that challenge preconceived ideas of who we are, what we have in common, and how we’re different. We’re looking for growth.

I (Bech here) have spent the last four and a half years in the field of student affairs. This field prioritizes and engages, in an explicit way, work on diversity, equity, and inclusion; social justice; and intercultural consciousness. Kindred Clay members have also navigated this work in a mostly individual, intuitive, and implicit way over the last eight years.


Roberto Lugo


“We want people to be woke, but we don’t want to create the space for people to wake up.” —Jamie Washington

This residency session will be a really new experience for us, and perhaps for you too. I want to tell you more about what you can expect.

None of us can, once and for all, figure out how to foster diversity or create social justice, because every person and community is complex and different. However, we can build skills and practices that support equity and inclusion. I’m excited to explore three areas during our time at Watershed: identity development (awareness of our multiple, intersecting identities, our privilege, and our marginalization), social justice (just distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges in society), and intercultural consciousness (communicating across differences and building meaningful relationships). Together, we’ll approach these conversations and activities with the same hands-on, risk-filled approach we take when working in the studio.

Brooks Oliver


We’ll explore how our identities shape our worldview and influence our behavior. You can expect small group conversations and individual reflection. The aim is to spend time in real conversation, learning from each other. Just like when we make work, these conversations will involve risk-taking and vulnerability! A willingness to make mistakes is a prerequisite as we contend with fear and shame that can often be paralyzing. We will learn, grow, and change during our two weeks together.

Margaret here. Is what Bech wrote exciting you? Does it challenge your idea of a ceramics residency? Does that bring up some fear or anxiety for you? Me too.

Trying new things in the studio can be a quiet, solitary exploration with a humble material and generous room for unseen failures. But when I think of the objects I’ve made, the ones I love most resulted from conversations. Conversations with the material, myself, and my peers about how it functions, how it feels in the hand, if it’s honest enough, if it’s “good” enough, why it didn’t work. Just think of the conversations we will have as an extension of your practice. Delve deeper into the internal dialogue about what you make, who you are, and how you fit into our intimate and extended community by inviting others into it. This is a chance to be vulnerable, to ask questions, and to be brave both in conversation and in the studio. We hope you’ll join us.

Register here to join Kindred Clay for this session.

Soda Pop!: 2020 Summer Session V Preview

In this guest post, session organizers Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session V: Soda Pop! Additional participating artists include Maya Blume-Cantrell, Meredith Knight, Stacy Morgan, Jan Schachter, and Marion Toms, along with guest artist Nancy Selvin. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from August 9-August 21. Learn more and register for this session.

Guest Artist Nancy Selvin


Soda Pop! co-leaders Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius became friends as undergraduate ceramics students at UC Santa Barbara. We both created work with vivid colors and patterns and enjoyed collaborating with others, especially during festive celebrations.

We now live far apart: Tara in Alabama and Trudy in California. Over the years we have continued our friendship and our ceramic practices, but in independent studios. Last year at NCECA 2019 in Minneapolis, we reminisced about the positive energy of the communal studio at UCSB with its easy exchange of ideas, sharing of experimental results and opportunities for collaboration. 

Vintage photo of Soda Pop! co-leaders Tara Sartorius and Trudy Chiddix


We decided to seek a group creative experience that would encourage growth in our work, fun in the studio, and friendships with new artists.  A Watershed “Artists Invite Artists” residency seemed like the perfect fit. We were attracted to the beautiful surroundings, studio facilities, abundant kilns, delicious food, and the opportunity for uninterrupted time in the studio. 

It was a natural decision to focus on experimentation with color in a cone 10 soda kiln, because we love color and neither of us has a soda kiln. When we learned that Watershed’s studio manager is very involved with soda firing and willing to coach us, we could not resist the opportunity to expand our artistic vocabulary.

Trudy and Tara working in their studios


Both Trudy and Tara are “friend gatherers.” We gathered artists from Alabama and California, inviting those whose work ranges from sculptural to functional.  We all share a sense of curiosity, a willingness to explore the unknown, and a desire to communicate with others.

Participating from Alabama:

  • Maya Blume-Cantrell – Celebrating nature and rhythm in form
  • Stacy Morgan – Creating dynamic glazes and textural surfaces
  • Meredith Knight – Unifying sculptural structures & concepts
  • Tara Sartorius – Exploring narratives using diverse materials

Meredith Knight


Participating from California:

  • Trudy Chiddix – Connecting pattern, form and mixed media
  • Jan Schachter – Focusing on well-crafted functional forms
  • Nancy Selvin – Linking the past with the present
  • Marion Toms – Maximizing minimalism in useful objects

Jan Schachter


“Soda Pop!” is our lighthearted way of expressing the vibrant results we’ll be seeking. In addition to experimenting with colored slips, glazes, stains, etc. in the soda kiln, we hope to share ideas, sources of inspiration, and images of interest. We look forward to discussing art and aesthetics in general and ceramics in particular. We’ll encourage presentations by participants who would like to show images of their work to the group.

Trudy Chiddix


Tara has offered to share some “warm” post-firing surface finishing techniques, including encaustic wax methods. This post-firing technique can be used to enhance ceramic surfaces with additional color and texture.  

Tara Sartorius


We are particularly pleased to have Nancy Selvin as our guest artist. Nancy has been making work and participating in the international ceramic community for 50 years.  She says: “My role in this residency is to mix it up and provide a little craziness for all to enjoy! Poetry, text, color, imagination: it all fits.”

Participating artists are encouraged to bring a few bisque-fired pieces for the first soda firing that will take place soon after we arrive at Watershed. These early results will inform further experiments. To facilitate sharing, we’ll create a digital record of our discoveries by photographing processes and results along with notes about recipes and techniques. A compendium will be consolidated in a PDF that participants may download at home.

If you are also interested in making new creative connections with others while exploring soda firing, color, and new surface treatments, please join the fun in August!

Register today to join this dynamic group of artists!