top of page
Gary Carstens

Gary Carstens
Mississippi Mud Studios
403 Pershing Rd
Maquoketa, IA 52060


Artist Statement

It's not what you look at that matters, its what you see.”—Thoreau

The direction of my clay work both sculptural and functional has always been brought by the landscape. Often what is hidden and not immediately revealed. Understanding, seeing and finding a voice to interpret into clay is a very personal journey. The reward makes that fleeting moment of sight and interpretation permanent and recorded. 

All clay work is high fired stoneware. My preferred firing method is atmospheric wood fire with salt. All functional work is durable and withstands the rigor of daily use. Glazes are non-toxic and food safe.



Artist Bio

A.A. B. A.  1977, Monmouth College, Monmouth Illinois

M.A. (self awarded) University of the back porch


Carstens has been working with clay since 1974 where, as the art department assistant at college he helped set up and begin the ceramics program as a sculpture student.

He has worked steadily in clay since that time and was offered the purchase of Mississippi Mud studios in 2003. Serving local potters and holding classes the studio has become more of a private studio over the last ten years. Devoting more energy to personal development, Carstens focuses his energies to expanding the evolution of his sculptural forms. Several years ago Gary began work with an apprentice. Now partner, and often teacher, they work together supporting each other’s personal  journey.

Today, Carstens is an occasional lecturer for local college programs on the subject of Art, Beauty and Meaning.  He also frequently demo’s traditional techniques at colleges and high schools. Gary has been an instructor at The Adamah Clay Center in Wisconsin holding two wood/Salt fire workshops annually. He has recently assisted John Britt with an experimental wood fire workshop


Artists and Artisans
137 N. Main St.
Elizabeth, IL 61028
(815) 213-5880

A Corner to Fill at Potter’s Mill
300 Potter Drive 
Bellevue, Iowa 52031
(563) 872-3838

Outside the Lines Art Gallery
1101 Main St
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 583-9343
101 S Main St
Galena, IL 61036
(815) 776-9166

The Bishop Hill Gallery
Bishop Hill, IL

Pottery Tour
October 18-20
Twenty Dirty Hands

Elizabeth & Galena, IL
Hazel Green, WI 
Dubuque, Asbury & Maquoketa, IA

Mike & Erin Wilen, Arlington Heights, IL
Harlow & Lila Blum, Monmouth, IL
Stephanie O'Shaughnessy, Galena, IL
Doug & Shirley Montzka, St Paul, MN
Lynn M’Cullough, Dubuque, IA
Lea Wrobel, Glenview, IL

Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL

2024 Shows
A Community of Makers
Planted, Dubuque, IA
January 5 - 28, 2023
Feb 28 - April 5

Twenty Dirty Hands Show

Harry & Laura Nohr Gallery

UW Platteville
Platteville, WI

bottom of page