Interview with Jason Laney

Jason Laney is a full-time professional artist. Laney owns the company Samhain Pottery. He works with clay in order to make cups, decorative plates, and large vessels. All of his works are slumped in form and are have spirals of some sort. Laney’s work has been shown at Elsinore Framing and Fine Art Gallery, as well as Pop Up ArtGallery, both in Salem Ore. His work has also appeared in Yesterday and Tomorrow, a Portland gallery, and Glatt House Gallery in Woodburn, Ore. His work can be found on his website.

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Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Jason Laney.

Maya Luque: What is your profession?

Jason Laney: I am a potter. I make things out of clay. I also teach others how to make clay objects.

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ML: Why is your company named Samhain Pottery?

JL: It is the name of a Celtic Festival in Ireland. I also lived in Dublin for four years, so it seemed fitting.

ML: When did you first start working with clay?

JL: I started working with clay about four years ago. I’ve thrown [clay] every day since then.

ML: What initially sparked your interest to work with clay?

JL: I took two ceramics classes in high school. But when I started throwing again it was mainly because I wanted something to drink beer out of.

ML: Why do you continue to make clay objects?

JL: I continue to work with clay because I have to, because I couldn’t think of doing anything else with my life. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

ML: Who are some clay artists who inspire you?

JL: There are potters who are both dead and living that inspire me. For example George Ohr, who was a potter who lived in the late 1800s. He was a potter in Biloxi who was about 70 years ahead of his time. He would make slumped, wild forms with wild colors. I also am inspired by my friend and mentor Nils Lou. I’ve known Nils for five years, and he’s mentored me for three. He’s constantly pushing me to make new forms. He has pushed me further than I realized I could be pushed, just by saying things like, “Tweak here to make the piece more unique.”

ML: You mentioned you teach others how to make clay forms. What is your teaching style like? Has your teaching style changed since you’ve had a mentor?

JL: I mainly teach kids, but I have taught people in their 80s. As far as teaching goes, my teaching style has evolved over the years. I used to start my teaching process by showing people how to make pinch pots, coil pots and slab pots. Now, thanks to Nils, I give them some clay and tell them to go play. I also say I’m there for them if they need help. This teaching style allows for more creativity and more interesting pieces.

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ML: I noticed you have a website but no items are for sale on it. Why is that?

JL: I’m not interested in the shipping required with selling pottery online. I use my website for galleries and artist shows to look at my work. This was prospective galleries can see older and current work.

ML: I’ve noticed you have a symbol; can you tell me about that?

JL: My symbol is an S that spirals out, because the spiral is the oldest symbol in the history of drawing. It’s also really easy to make a spiral on the wheel. It is an S shape because that is the first letter of my company.

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