I enjoy working with a variety of surfaces and firing methods. Soda, Raku and Saggar all allow the flame and the chemicals to play across the surface of the forms. My work includes hand-built and thrown forms, primarily experimental vessels. I work with some of the same forms in Raku clay and porcelain, firing them in all three methods. While many of my pieces are loaded with textures, some are smooth or given simple alterations to allow the flame and chemicals to interact.
As a result of manipulating the porcelain into organic forms, often with handles and feet, customers often say the pieces seem to be about to come alive – in fact, some people strike the “poses” they see and remark on the “pots with attitude.” “You seem to really be having fun,” is another frequent comment. I have been greatly inspired by art trips to China and the Yucatan, carving stamps based on Mayan glyphs to complement the personal symbols I had carved.
Twin Cities native Natasha Poppe is one of those people who said she was “going to be” an artist since childhood. Early arts exposure was from the amazing neighborhood of Prospect Park in Minneapolis, especially the talented and driven Loyce Houlton. Natasha’s undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Lawrence University in Wisconsin also included a minor in East Asian Studies. The formalistic style of ‘70s teaching directed her toward Graphic Design, but thoughts about advertising cigarettes to children, or promoting Walmart, helped re-direct her into art education. Her second degree was in Art Education from the University of Minnesota, then while teaching she earned an M.A., and worked toward a PhD.
Years of teaching art, advocating for the arts, and making art have enriched her perspective in each role. After many years of painting as her major focus, Natasha returned to ceramics in 2002. She has taken numerous classes and participated in many firings at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. She recently has been using the soda kilns at Edina Art Center with Sandra Shaughnessy, and Minnetonka Art Center with Ernest Miller.
Although throwing was her only choice in her earlier years, she believes that teaching younger children made her a much better ceramist. Sitting home with a broken leg, she tried hand-building with porcelain. Classes from Margaret Bowles polished her techniques and inspired her to push the possibilities further. She now works largely in her home studio in Saint Paul, has built a Raku and Saggar kiln, and is hoping to build a Soda kiln "before I get too old to load it."
500 Teapots, Volume 2, by Jim Lawton. Lark Books, 2013