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Roberta Polfus Ceramics
Oak Park, IL
(708) 383-3651
IG: robertapolfus
FB: robertapolfusceramics

Most of my carved and sometimes gestural pieces are intimate forms that fit and feel good in the hand. While they are generally not representations of actual objects, they reflect the movement, shapes, patterns and surfaces that I am drawn to in nature—the petals of an apple blossom, the grooves of a spindle shell, the pattern of a hosta leaf or the texture of a weathered rock all inform and inspire my work.


I use a combination of wheel thrown and hand-built porcelain forms that are altered, carved and sprigged. With a variety of sprayed matte and gloss glazes that enhance the surfaces, the pieces are fired in a gas kiln, cone 10 reduction.

Nishi headshot.jpg

My passion for making pottery springs from a desire to bring beauty and nature into daily life. I find inspiration everywhere I go, traveling with notebook in hand, sketching designs and shapes that can be incorporated into new works.


My style is based on the simplicity and functionality of Japanese pottery, using natural materials and colors typical in nature. It is my belief that pottery should not be the center of attention on the dinner table; it should be simple and attractive, while discreetly adding to the delicious appearance of the food. I strive to create pottery that resonates with me and brings out my inner peace. It is my hope that the natural simplicity of my pottery can bring the same peace to others.


The entire process of creating a work of art excites me. My favorite tools are my hands. I love feeling the subtleties of the clay, in which slight changes bring out the wonders and beauty of the material and make a great impact on the final piece. I strive to incorporate the characteristics of the clay, such as flecks of iron, so that they are not hidden but honored. The potter’s wheel inspires me to add textures like spirals where glaze can naturally pool during firing. The kiln brings about a surprise ending, as the fire is variant by nature and can lend unexpected character to the final piece. 


My most exciting challenge in pottery is the precision required at every step to achieve an aura in the finished piece. I feel satisfaction when the character of the clay bursts forth with momentum while expressing my intention for the work, conveying a powerful emotion to onlookers.


My name is Monte Young and I was introduced to pottery making at 13 and now, over 50 years later, I’m still in love with the process, the product, and the use of handmade pottery in my day to day life. After graduating from college in 1984 my close friend Kent Henderson (Galena Clayworks) and I moved to Galena and started making pots on a daily basis. Over the last 30+ years I moved my studio throughout 5 states in the Midwest, finally settling down in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana in the town of Jasper in order to live close to our 11 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild where my wife and I built our “forever home and studio”.


The intention of my pottery is to make well-made traditional forms for daily use which function well and feel good in the user’s hands. I want my work to offer rich earthy tones which I hope to achieve through minimal slips and glazes which we fire in our cross draft wood kiln.


Hope you like them, Monte.


Student Guest Artist
University of Wisconsin Platteville
IG: harewood_studios
(312) 882-5338

Will Hare is a student at the University of Wisconsin Platteville, majoring in cross-disciplinary fine arts with and emphasis in ceramics. After graduation he will go back to school and get his MFA to pursue his passion for teaching. Will focuses on creating and experimenting with various clay bodies, glazes, and firing methods, avidly searching for his own voice through constant experimentation. 


Paulie is a mixed-media artist who studied Fine Art and Psychology at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.  She has produced numerous pieces of art using various media, has taught art classes to children, and has illustrated several children’s books. 

As a child, Paulie struggled with depression. She began very early to use creativity as a means to cope with sadness. The family nicknamed her “Paulie Project,” because she rescued all kinds of objects from the trash and reclaimed them as art possibilities. Her doll house inspired her to make miniature creations to fill each of the rooms. Her love for creating miniatures has continue through the years.

In 2017, she suffered a significant loss, and as a result she found herself unable to leave the house. In 2022, with the help of her daughter, she was able to risk taking a Galena ARC Beginning Pottery workshop with Stephanie O’ Shaughnessy. This class, in turn, led her to go weekly to the Galena ARC Pottery Studio. The result was very therapeutic—not only getting her out of the house, but also returning her to her artwork. Her creations at the standard wheel eventually led her back to the world of miniatures. She watched a number of You Tube videos, and taught herself to make miniatures by “pulling off the hump,” that is creating only at the top of the lump of clay. She also presently works on a mini-wheel that is 2 ½ inches in diameter. In addition, she also makes miniatures by “hand-building,” a type of clay sculpting. Her miniatures range from ¼ inch to 3 inches in height. 

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John-Thomas Richard

Cedar Rapids, IA

IG: johnthomasrichard


Hello, my name is John-Thomas Richard, I was born and raised in Southwestern Wisconsin. I first developed my interest in clay during sophomore year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. I Graduated in 2006 with a degree in art and American history. I worked for two years developing a portfolio for graduate school. I then spent the following three years at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas working towards a master’s degree. I graduated with my MFA in May 2011. In August of 2012, I moved to Cedar Rapids, IA to start a year residency with The Iowa Ceramic Center, at this time I also worked at Kirkwood Community College from 2011-2017. In 2014, I started working at Mount Mercy University, where I currently hold the title of Special Appointment Faculty in Art & Design, teaching Ceramics, Sculpture, Jewelry Metalsmithing, and Intro to Art classes, while also managing the campus art gallery (Janalyn Hanson White Gallery).


Artist Statement

John-Thomas Richard is currently exploring the idea of human flight through the use of ceramic forms, silhouettes and structures. He has grown up loving planes, for both their technical beauty of construction and their seemingly impossible ability to fly. His family has greatly influenced him with what they have done in connection to aviation. His grandfather Stiles flew all around the south pacific during World War II on different planes fixing communication equipment on the islands. His grandmother Richard worked at an airplane Plant in Detroit during the war. She made the cowlings that go around the four massive engines of the B24 Liberator Bomber. His father built a Sail plane in the family barn with a friend and was responsible for introducing him to flight by taking him to Air-Shows since he had been able to stand. No one in his family has ever been a pilot but that has not stopped them from being part of the aviation spirit. Ultimately, Richard is aware that his ceramic planes and parts may never truly fly but he wants to provoke the idea of flight in the minds of the viewer.



Rockford, IL

(815) 988-9848

After 27 years I am beginning to understand who I am as a potter. I concentrate on refined, carefully shaped forms where the feel of the clay, the speed of the wheel, and my thoughts on that day combine to create a bowl, a cup, a teapot. Each creation is as individual and unique as each leaf of a tree.


Then to impart the spontaneity and beauty of nature I fire with wood or soda, processes I find continually fascinating. No two pieces are ever alike. The fire warps, adds colors and drips of glass, and though sometimes frustrating, ultimately it provides a beautiful and functional result.


FB: deloresfortuna
IG: deloresfortuna

Short Bio

Forming function, a dance, often a tug of war, between thought and object making.  Add to this dialogue the sheer joy of working with clays as materially responsive as porcelain and surfaces only possible through glaze fusion.  A dynamic is created which becomes a life-long fascination.  My work uses basic wheel thrown shapes as starting points, altering and rejoining forms articulated by black slip inlay. The clays and glazes I use are often of my own formulation, fired to stoneware temperatures (2374F) in a gas reduction fiber kiln.  My glazes are food safe, microwaveable and dishwashing stable.

Winter Rye

winter rye
Oak Park, IL

(708) 484-3902

IG: ryemakers

Patrice Murtha began working in clay 20 years ago. She works with an eye toward simple, refined forms that are, first and foremost, functional. Patrice’s pottery is the foundation of the collaboration known as Winter Rye. Barbara Korbel was introduced to weaving 30 years ago, she designs and weaves cloth, sourcing traditional patterns. Her hand woven table linens complement the colors and forms of Winter Rye pottery. Recently, Barbara began carving spoons to accompany Patrice’s dinnerware.


Patrice and Barbara are the founders of Winter Rye. They are committed to making their goods affordable, while honoring the labor of the individual worker. They are proudly based in Berwyn, Illinois. 


Belinda Shastal
Chicago, IL
(773) 415-2604

My work is influenced by my interest in the ancient Chinese, Greek and American pottery. It echoes the past and brings it forward to the present. I find working with clay challenging and fascinating. I enjoy exploring and learning about different glazes and how they work on different types of clay. This seems to be a never-ending task. 

I am inspired by the beauty of the natural world and natural phenomena and aim to reflect the color, depth, and perfect imperfection of the natural world.  Successful ceramic work is the result of the union of form and surface where one is actualized by the presence of the other. The surface is only itself insofar as the form inhabits it and the form exists only as the surface meets the air that surrounds it.

My work is both functional and sculptural, useful, and beautiful. As a ceramic artist, designer, and potter I use earth in the form of clay, water to shape the clay, fire to turn the clay into stone. The new form is the result of the basic elements of the hands, mind, and heart of the creator.

Shumpei Yamaki
West Branch, IA
(347) 633-1533
IG: shumpeiyamaki
FB: shumpeiyamaki


Shumpei Yamaki was born and raised in Kamakura, Japan. He moved to Philadelphia in 1996 to study dance. He went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in archaeology at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. In 1999, Shumpei was injured in an automobile accident and enrolled in a ceramics class as physical therapy for his arm. He discovered his passion for ceramics, and in 2001 began an apprenticeship under Richard Bresnahan. He learned traditional Japanese pottery techniques, wood-firing, and ways to rely on local resources and resource conservation.

Shumpei went on to graduate studies at the University of Iowa, in 2002, taking full advantage of their strong wood-fire program. In 2005, Shumpei moved to Brooklyn and participated in wood-firings in upstate New York with Tim Rowan and Roger Baumann. Since he returned to Iowa in 2009, He has built his own designed anagama style wood-fire kiln and been experimenting with local clay in his personal endeavors as a wood-fire potter. 



I feel free to communicate with my own language through art. Direct action in the process of creating art is the key to communicating effectively. Results of my action reflect my inner perception.

Initially I came to the United States to see the origin of street dance. Learning street dance has taught me how to communicate with others visually and emotionally. My former experience in Hip-Hop culture and Capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art) still exists in my body and soul, blending with and influencing my wheel throwing techniques. When I dance, I dance with flow and force. I dance to express my primitive spirit, and my intuition is exactly what I feel at that moment, completely removed from myself.

I view clay on the pottery wheel as a sort of stage for myself as a dancer. When water flows on the surface of clay on a pottery wheel, my hands dance to rhythm and my mind stretches into meditation. Imagination and feelings about clay and water take me to a state of mind as "second nature". As street dance and clay combine through me, the true primitive concepts of these two art forms communicate themselves to the audience; one is ephemeral, the other is permanent.


joan gaspAr hart

Bellevue, IA

(920) 912-7375

I am a 1980 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. My areas of concentration were Ceramics and Photography.


After graduation, I put ceramics aside to take a photo related job with the intention of earning money for graduate school but my plans were sidetracked by family and career. I continued to pursue creative expression through my photography, painting and handmade paper.


In January 2015, my husband and I moved to Cedar Falls from Sheboygan, Wisconsin for our jobs. A year later, I discovered the Independent Study program in Ceramics at the Hearst Center for the Arts and rekindled my passion for clay while taking advantage of their facilities. Two years later, I set up my own studio and began marketing my work at art fairs.


In July of 2020, we bought a small commercial building on Riverview St. in beautiful Bellevue Iowa. In September 2021 I retired from my job to pursue ceramics full time.  My studio is operating in the back and I plan to set up a small retail shop for my work in the front after renovations are complete.           


My current ceramic work is influenced by both nature and structure in form and surface. The wheel thrown pieces are altered or assembled, some combining organic shapes with more engineered or patterned  decorative elements.  

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