River Road follows the Haw River in Northeast Chatham County, NC, and was once called “Peace Road” by the farming families who lived there. Situated between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, River Road maintains its peaceful nature. The land is dense with beech, holly, oak and maple trees and is home to many species of birds and other wildlife (including a variety of artists!). River Road Pottery is a simple home studio in the woods, home to owls, deer, & foxes. When we are outside firing a kiln, and the river is high, we can hear its roar.
Libba Adams formally established River Road Pottery in 2008. For several years, she was enrolled in the curriculum program for Pottery and Sculpture at the Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) in Siler City, NC, and there she gained valuable experience making and firing ware in reduction and oxidation environments. Libba’s lamps were chosen as award-winning pieces for display in the State Community Colleges Art exhibition. She has participated in juried shows, including Boylan Heights Holiday Show, in Raleigh. Libba enjoys making functional tableware, wall-hangings, and lamps, which are wired by Libba’s husband, Charlie, a licensed electrician.
For Libba, pottery is “my second career”, and it adds balance to life. As a psychotherapist for over 35 years, her focus has been on helping people increase personal safety, tame unruly emotions, lessen intensity, and achieve the ability to mindfully soothe themselves. Working with clay is a meditative experience for her. The excitement involved in firing pots in an open flame, as with raku, or simply participating in the magic and alchemy of transforming clay, water & minerals, via intense heat into a vessel is captivating.
Raku is a technique adapted from a Japanese tradition in which glowing hot pots are removed from the kiln and submerged into shredded newspaper which then bursts into flames! The risk to the pots is great, and their survival rate is chancy, but the dramatic metallic results are captivating. Raku is a good illustration of the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi: there are three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
Since leaving the CCCC program, Libba took a few years away from making pots, to focus on her work at Chatham Wellness Center. Resuming her work with clay has meant developing a new palette of glazes to achieve interesting results using an electric kiln. Libba is very excited to have discovered that it isn’t necessary to fire in a gas reduction kiln at very high temperatures to get beautiful and intriguing effects! Firing in raku offers the chance to balance electric (oxidation) firing with the excitement of firing with open flame.
Making pottery, whether tableware, lamps or raku, offers a metaphor for life, whereby we can learn to appreciate our mistakes because if we are paying attention and don’t become defensive, we will continue to learn.
There is always more to learn!