Ian's Story

I have a confession - I couldn’t make a piece of pottery if my life depended on it! It’s the glazes I love. I love experimenting and testing, research combined with trial and error and a goodly measure of dumb luck thrown in. Scrap glazes are my delight. “Scrap” is a euphemism for a bunch of glazes which have outlived their usefulness all thrown into a big tub and mixed together. I then add a bit of this and a bit of that and voilá - a wonderful new glaze.

Since my first ghastly concoction in 1972 I have come up with a huge repertoire of glazes. I don’t usually put just one coat of glaze on a piece but, rather, two and even three coats. At 2400 degrees in my gas kiln one coat blends into the other giving the finished glazes the depth and complexity which has become the hallmark of my work. I love what I do and I doubt if I will ever get over that feeling of excitement every time I open up the kiln.

…..So, how did I get here from there? I was born, raised and educated in England. Public School and all that followed by a stint as an officer in the British Army (58 different countries in 5 years and several wars). Then a tour guide all around Europe for a couple of years and over to the United States selling tours to university groups. Onwards and upwards - the airline business, V.P. sales and marketing for a big charter airline with all the perks of free worldwide travel. And so inexorably I was drawn to Lansing, Michigan where I settled into orbit around Jo Lydia. “Back to Europe?”, I said, “I just left there! Pottery? What’s that? Help you? How?”…and the rest is history!!

 

Jo Lydia's Story

I’ve been making my way around the planet with clay since the age of 17- at 82 that really is a life time devotion. About forty years were spent throwing pots on the wheel with various clays- stoneware, terra cotta, earthenware, etc. I became totally hooked on porcelain when I used to buy it at Limoges while we lived in France. I am not interested in making glazes so when Ian came into my life and made the comment that my glazes were like everybody else’s I simply said “if you can do better…,” and of course he did!

We married and moved to Spain in 1972 and spent most of the next 16 years in the beautiful mountains and sea of Andalusia. I worked mostly in stoneware -some porcelain- and Ian developed his wonderful pastel colors. We realized in our first gallery show in Madrid that the shapes had become delicate and the colors were very pastel. The last few years in Spain were spent on a mountain top overlooking the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and Africa. Porcelain, and once in a while lace, began to creep into my life.

In 1988 we left all the sunshine and moved to France’s beautiful Loire Valley and felt our work shifting slightly - larger pieces and darker colors. Our house was built in 1482 and France was very romantic - I wanted to stay forever, but I like Ian just a bit better than all that so in 1991 I followed him to the Western North Carolina Mountains. We worked in the tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains where greens and browns began to appear in our work. I have devoted myself entirely to porcelain and lace since that time.

All of our life together has been spent in beautiful rural surroundings with incredible views with the exception of a six year urban experience - in a condo in downtown Asheville and a studio in the River District. Our newest adventure has taken us to a remote paradise in the New River Valley of Virginia. We are on a new journey in a great setting. We hope you will visit one day.

 
   

Our Home in Spain

Our Home in France

We were even "movie stars" for four days in Impromptu. Emma Thompson, Bernadette Peters, Hugh Grant were some of the others.


Jo Lydia designing with lace

Ian and his kiln
           
     

Ian and Jo Lydia Craven
Handbuilt Porcelain
1896 Old Field Creek Road
Grassy Creek, North Carolina 28631
(336) 982-4460
(800) 764-2402
mail@cravenstudio.com
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Our studio in Angers, France