Document 118228

A Thesis
Presented for the
Master of Fine Arts Degree
The University of Mississippi
Everett E. Henderson, Jr.
December, 1998
In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master's
degree at The University of Mississippi, I agree that the Library shall make it available to
borrowers under the rules of the Library. Brief quotations from this thesis are allowable
without special permission, provided that accurate acknowledgment of the source is
Permission for extensive quotation from or reproduction of this thesis may be
granted by my major professor, or in his absence, by the Head of the Interlibrary Services
when, in the opinion of either, the proposed use of the material is for scholarly purposes.
Any copying or use of the material in this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed
without my written permission.
Signature ---f:rf-~~~~~\---I'~~~""
To the Graduate Council:
r am submitting herewith a thesis written by Everett E. Henderson, Jr. entitled "648
CUPS ... 7 TEAPOTS and 8 PAINTINGS: AN INSTALLATIO~'. I have examined the
final copy of this thesis for form and content and recommend that it be accepted in partial
fulfillment of the requirements:':for the degree of Master of Fine Arts with a major in
We have read this thesis
and recommend its acceptance:
Accepted for the Council:
Dean of the Graduate School
648 CUPS ... 7 TEAPOTS and 8 PAINTINGS: AN INSTALLATION, allows me to
investigate the way in which I view, produce, use and exhibit utilitarian vessels. The
vessels which comprise this thesis are the cup and the teapot - objects we use every day.
By focusing on these two objects I can devote my attention to the exploration of the
forms. This has been accomplished mainly by a commitment to throwing on the wheel,
in addition to drawing, painting, reading and observing.
Because of my interest in pottery, I have accumulated many books on the subject.
Books tend to be a good resource in providing numerous ideas about the world of
ceramics and their philosophical influences. Other sources of information come from
direct contact with other artists. This is done through workshops, working with other
students and mentors.
Through my research of the vessel, I have discovered that form does follow
function. Aesthetics do matter when it comes to whether or not someone will actually use
a piece of functional pottery. If a piece works well, yet is not appealing, then the piece
may not be used. The glaze and the form need to harmonize, or the piece seems to lack
completion. To be a good potter, I must be both critic and artist simultaneously. I feel it
is necessary to produce work that is physically engaging, functional, and at the same
time, gratifying to produce.
INTRODUCTION........ ... ...................................... ....... ... ......
MY PlllLOSOPHY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... . . ..
TI-IE CUPS. ........... .. .... . .... .. ...... . . . .. . .. . . . . ... . .. ........... .. . . .
Tlffi TEAPOTS.................................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . ... 11
Tlffi PAINTINGS......................................................... 12
TI-IE INSTALLATION................................................... 14
DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS. . . . . . . . .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 17
APPENDIXES. . . . . . .. . . ......... . . . . . .. .. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .... ... .. .... . ..
VITA .............
o •••
• • • • • • • • • 000 • • • •
• • • 0.00
TIm INSTALLATION... ...... ............ ....... .... .... ..... ........
VIEW OF LEFT WALL............ . ..... . . .. . ..... ..... . .... ...........
III. VIEW OF RIGHT WALL... ..............................................
DETAIL OF THE CUP WALL .......................................... 27
TEAPOT GROUP.................... . . ............ ....................... 28
TEAPOT NUMBER 7 ...................................................... 29
1EAPOT NUMBER 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 30
VIII. TEAPOT PAINTING NUMBER 6 ...................................... 31
IX. TEAPOT PAINTING NUMBER 4 ........................................ 32
Perhaps the most daunting question for most artists to answer is "Why do I do
what I do?" . It seems so simple to look at another artist's work and think that you might
know why it was made. However, when the question is directed to you, the issue seems
much more complicated.
As a functional potter, I too have to explore the reasons behind my work. Pottery,
aside from being a work of art, is also utilitarian, and primarily made to function. It
seems that the reason for my pottery's existence is for practical use. But that answer fails
to really identify the source of knowledge, energy and self-motivation that is key to being
a successful potter. Over the course of the last ten years, I have continued to analyze this
question. The answer, like my work, continues to evolve.
When I began with clay, my first wheel thrown piece was asymmetrical and
adorned with enigmatic dancing figures. Function was not much of a concern, nor were
the aesthetics. What mattered to me was the feeling that I had experienced when I
touched the clay. I was intrigued and drawn toward pottery.
With my formal education underway, I not only tried to pinpoint the source of my
motivation, but also became aware of the need for a sound philosophy. I began
investigating the philosophies of contemporary potters and traditional potters as well as
painters and artists of other cultures. In the Shape of Content, the painter Ben Shahn
said, "In the midst of our discussion one of the students walked up to me and said, 'Mr.
Shahn, I didn't come here to learn philosophy. I just wanted to learn how to paint.' I
asked him which one of the one hundred and forty styles he wanted to learn, and we
began to establish, roughly, a sort of understanding" (Shahn, 123).
The quest in developing my philosophy about clay has also encouraged me to use
other media, such as painting. Working on canvas plays an important role in my creative
process. Although pottery is my focus, painting offers a departure from the utilitarian
ware that I produce. Sometimes a painting can express ideas that are physically
challenging to a ceramic pot, such as a massive teapot with a wire thin handle. My
functional wares and my paintings often feed off of each other. The paintings are inclined
to be much freer and more expressive than the functional ware because the pots depicted
do not have to function.
Although functional wares are utilitarian, handmade pottery is also a form of art that
can be integrated into our daily lives. During the closing of this show, I wish to have the
viewers use the pots and interact with the pieces. The human touch is essential in useful
wares -- without human interaction, they are no longer serviceable.
The journey to understanding oneself is a long and complicated one, and certainly not
one that will be revealed at any certain time in one's life. The educated potter can collect
the knowledge of the past, observe contemporary artists of the present and come to some
sort of understanding about why he does what he does.
I believe that I am on my way to establishing myself as a production potter and will
achieve all that I expect out of life while living as a potter. Ann Truitt once said "The
most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing
oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one~s own most intimate sensitivity"
( Dillard, 68).
Due to my education and for the craft, I am confident in my chosen field. I look
forward to making pottery that people will use and grow to cherish. Through my work, I
hope to connect with people and provide them with objects that will make their everyday
lives more enjoyable.
The reasons behind why people make objects are as different as the people that
produce them. First of all, I produce because I have a need to use my hands. But, more
than that, I strive to have interaction with others through my work. Using my hands and
mind together to make pottery to be used by others gives me a way to communicate with
people both physically and emotionally. I aspire to meet the needs of those well-versed
in handmade pottery as well as appeal to people who have little or no understanding of
art. It is my hope that I can somehow influence people to develop a greater
understanding of the value of a handmade object. I strive to differentiate between the
perceived value of handmade pottery, simply because it is handmade, and the aesthetic
characteristics that contribute to a pot's overall appeal. Soetsu Yanagi perhaps said it
best in his book The Unknown Craftsman:
To be unable to see beauty properly is to lack the basic foundation for any
aesthetic understanding. One should refrain from becoming a student of
aesthetics just because one has a good brain; to know a lot about beauty is no
qualification. Seeing and knowing form an exterior and an interior, not a right
and a left. Either way, they are not equal. In understanding beauty, intuition is
more of the essence than intellectual perception. (Yanagi, 109-110)
This idea of "seeing and knowing" is one that has always interested me. I feel
that few people take the time to examine the difference between a learned sense of
beauty and beauty that inspires some sort of emotional reaction. My wish is that
through my pottery, I can convey to people the idea that handmade pottery offers a
visible and emotional alternative to typically mass-produced, machine-made wares. I
want people to look for the natural characteristics that are particular to handmade wares
and develop a love for them.
When I produce something that is intended for others to use, [ have an opportunity to
speak to the user through my work. Clay is especially good at allowing me to express
myself in that every subtle nuance is felt and seen. Finger prints, throwing marks and the
slightest irregularities are noticed. In making pots, I must take into account the shape
and size, texture and color, and the ultimate environment in which the pot will reside.
With every decision I make, I have the chance to connect with the user.
A potter who creates wares that are intended for function has a responsibility
to the user of the work. Potters must put themselves in the position of critic
to see if a pot really works as it should. A pot may be pleasing in form, but still be
uninviting to the user. Yanagi writes, "They adhere too strictly to the forms and fail
to grasp the spirit. No one hurts the Tea more seriously than he who mistakes these
essential forms for superficial patterns. The two must be clearly.distinguishedn (Yanagi,
Seoetsu Yanagi speaks of potters just copying a foon that they feel to be good without
really even knowing the function. Potters must use their own pots to find the
downfalls and strengths of the wares. To make pottery without having some sort of an
idea of the function would be a futile endeavor.
My philosophy towards clay is directly related to my philosophy of life. It is often
the subtle and small things in our lives that we tend to remember and cherish. Even
though our lives mainly consist of seemingly mundane things that make up each day,
I try to produce pottery that ad9s enjoyment to someone's life when they use the piece.
By using everyday objects that are personal and tactile, our senses are touched, both
physically and emotionally.
Making pots suits me and the way I wish to pursue life. The clay process and the
potter's lifestyle combine to satisfy my intellectual, artistic and emotional needs. Shoji
Hamada once said "Making pottery should not be like climbing a mountain, it should be
more like walking down a hill in a pleasant breeze" (Peterson, 183).
The cup, in my opinion, is the most used and underestimated pot. One of the
reasons I chose to focus on the cup (along with the teapot) was because of its place in
history. The origin of the cup is prehistoric. Vessels used for drinking probably
developed from the shape of the cupped hand, shells or from the horns of animals
(Hopper, 10). The greatest influence on my work are the cups used in the tea ceremonies
in Japan.
Another reason for using the·cup as my focus was that it provided me with an ample
number of surfaces on which to embellish and explore. Producing a large number of
cups enabled me to explore the possibilities of altering shapes, creating texture through
carving and to experiment with different glaze color and application techniques. By
making many cups, I could easily recover from any unexpected (but always anticipated)
mishaps. Sometimes in ceramics, quantity can be directly related to quality. Linda
Arbuckle said in Clay Times magazine, "Decorating calls for taking risks and making a
lot of work. You're bound to ruin a lot of pots by making surface choices that don't
work out. But like other endeavors, you have to do it (and this includes doing it badly) to
learn and make progress" (Clay Times, 9).
Whether it is a teapot, six hundred cups or one plate, all ceramic work endures the
same process. There are, of course, many stages involved in producing ceramic ware and
good decisions must be made throughout the entire process, otherwise the piece may be a
disappointment. However, I believe the basic stages can be identified as form, surface
treatment and firing. The decisions made during these three stages are integral to the
final product. If one of these phases is not carefully executed, the pot will not be
successful, or even worse - may completely fail.
The forms of the cups I make are similar to each other in that they all have a full belly
and taper to the lip. Some of the forms have been thrown, then altered to achieve a
triangular or squared shape. Other forms are intentionally left with heavy throwing
marks, creating a spiral effect. Some are cylindrical and specifically smooth on the sides
to allow for more detailed surface decoration.
The cups I produce do not have handles. I feel the absence of handles encourages the
viewer to look at the cup from multiple points of view. A handle dictates that the user
view the cup mainly from the perspective in which it is grasped. When the user is in
direct contact with the cup, they are experiencing the temperature of the liquid inside,
the form of the cup and the texture of the glaze.
These forms are derived from using my own cups, noticing their imperfections and
constantly rethinking how they can be improved. I have also been inspired by other
potters work and by the tea cups of Shoji Hamada, who is a national treasure in Japan.
Surface treatment is a vital part of the pot. It can determine the difference between a
pot that is loved and used and one that is put aside and forgotten. In The Unknown
Craftsman Soetsu Yanagi's writes, "Why should pattern be so beautiful? It provides
unlimited scope for the imagination. Pattern does not explain; it leaves things to the
viewer; its beauty is determined by freedom it gives to the viewer's imagination"
(Yanagi, 115).
The surface treatment and tllllbellishment on the cups may be achieved as they are
being thrown or embellished later with vitreous slips and engobes. Sometimes the only
pattern or decoration on the pot is left to the kiln and how the glaze reacts on the surface.
There is always an exciting challenge associated with deciding what, if any, decoration
should be on the piece. Bernard Leach writes:
The problem of producing vital pattern is a very real one to the artist-craftsman.
He can no longer depend on the support and restraint of any particular tradition
but must form his own synthesis and invent his own creative designs, for pattern
should rise out of the need and experience of today and not from that of
yesterday. ( Leach, 102)
Pattern is everywhere. Leaves on trees, tennis shoe treads, machine parts - anything
with pattern can suggest the next idea for surface embellishment. My ideas evolve from
being aware of my surroundings and I take advantage of the things I see around me and
use them in my work.
The kiln also contributes to the final surface design. The kiln is the final stage that a
pot must survive before it can really be considered finished and successful. Many times
seemingly beautiful pots with pleasing forms, nice colors and dramatic brush strokes go
into the kiln with the anticipation of returning vitrified, solid, and fully developed in
color - unfortunately, this is not always the case. The potter must always reserve the
feeling of accomplishment until after the kiln has cooled and the piece has survived. "A
kiln is not just a box in which ware is heated, but rather a high temperature
reaction chamber in which temperature, time and atmosphere all play important roles in
the development of the final product. Lack of attention to anyone of these variables can
result in disappointment" (Troy, 43).
The two kilns I used were the reduction kiln and the salt kiln. The reason for using
two different kilns is relatively simple -- the glazes react differently in the salt ki In than
they do in the reduction kiln, thus giving a broader range of variety in the finished pieces.
Pieces that go into the reduction kiln are primarily glazed in one or more colors. The
reduction kiln adds a warm tone to the glazes applied. The salt kiln, however, is typically
loaded with unglazed or partially glazed bisqueware or greenware. When salt is added to
the kiln during the last stages of the firing, the salt becomes volatile, then combines with
the silica in the clay to form a glaze. The advantage of the salt kiln, from my point of
view, is that the colors produced by the salt are somewhat warmer and deeper than that
achieved in the reduction kiln. A concise description of the salt process helps to explain:
Salt fumes have a dramatic effect on clay under heat. This occurs at temperatures
from about 900 degr~s Celsius, the melting point of common salt, when surface
blush of colour is formed on the clays and clay slips used by the potter, to over
1300 degrees Celsius, the traditional temperature for high-fire salt-glaze. At
higher temperatures the salt becomes an active vapour; a typical salt-glaze has a
glossy orange-peel texture enhancing the natural colour of the clay beneath it.
(Mansfield, 1)
The form of the pot, the glaze and the firing all work together to produce handmade
pottery. The process is involved and sometimes lengthy, but the resultant ware is well
worth the wait.
In the history of ceramics, the introduction of the teapot is a relatively recent
occurrence. In The Potters Dictionary by Frank and Janet Hammer it states:
The teapot originated in China in the 14th century and was developed from the kettle
previously used. It came to Europe in the 17th century as an import with the tea. At
first tea was regarded as a medicine and teapots were small, some only 5
centimetres in diameter. Cheaper tea grown in India and Ceylon during the days of
the British Empire resulted in tea becoming the popular drink of 19th-century
Britain. Teapots became larger. (Hamer, 316)
The reason I chose teapots to accompany the cups in this installation is because they
are larger, with more surface to embellish. In contrast to the cups, they are more timeconsuming to produce and they allowed me the opportunity explore more glaze options
and surface decoration techniques.
A few of the pots have a look of Yixing teapots. Although a Yixing teapot is very
small in size, about 5 centimeters in diameter (Hamer, 347), my larger teapots resemble
them in form, being reminiscent of fruit and vegetable shapes such as apples, pumpkins
or gourds, and have full bodied forms which seem to imply that their contents are under
pressure. The surfaces of the pots are treated the same as the cups. They are reduction
fired and salt fired.
Although ceramics is my chosen focus, I have always been attracted to painting
and I have included eight of them in this installation. I think that working in twodimensions and three-dimensions, simultaneously, helps to improve both the paintings
and the ceramics. When it comes to art, whether it is 2-D or 3-D, the elements and
principals of design remain the same. Form, color, texture, repetition, proportion and
balance are vital to any aesthetic endeavor. By painting, I find that I can experiment with
these design elements, examine forms and shapes of future pots and study shapes that I
have used in the past.
The subject matter in the paintings are graphic representations of teapots. An
advantage to painting teapots is that they do not have to function as my pottery does. I
can give them handles that could not possibly support the weight of the body. With the
paintings, I can choose the environment in which the painted pot will remain. I can place
the painted pots in whatever environment I prefer. Painting allows me to have fun with
the subject matter while benefiting from the exercise in design.
My style of painting and potting have several characteristics in common. Both have a
free-fonn look in the shape and execution as opposed to something that is fabricated or
mass produced. Instead of being calculated and precise, such as a machine made object,
my pottery and paintings are improved by happenstance which provides originality. In
my paintings and my pottery, lines are blurred rather than sharp and crisp. There are
several marks to define a shape or design, not just one. I believe that this approach gives
the pieces more visual interest, more depth to explore and more beauty to discover. I
agree with John Tilton's view in The Ceramic Design Book where he writes, "I strive for
the kind of perfection that makes my pots seem born, not made of contrived-for an
organic quality that comes from attunement rather than merely expertise" (Tilton, 15).
The installation consists of a back wall lined with shelves on which 600 cups sit, 7
teapots grouped on display pedestals in the middle of the room, 48 cups grouped on
display pedestals along the perimeter of the gallery space and paintings of teapots on the
surrounding walls. I have chosen this arrangement so that the viewer will be first drawn
into the room by the massive display of cups. As they go toward the cups, they will
notice the teapots on pedestals, then the paintings and the cups on pedestals lining the
side walls. I believe this arrangement will guide the guests successfully through the
installation, while still achieving the initial dramatic impact that I intend. The emotion
that I am attempting to evoke was best described by Norman Maclean when he said,
"Sometimes a thing in front of you is so big you don't know whether to comprehend it by
first getting a dim sense of the whole and then fitting in the pieces, or by adding up the
pieces until something calls out what it is" (Troy, v).
I want people who attend the show to be taken aback by the number of cups on the
wall while still recognizing the individuality of each handmade piece. The purpose of
the show is to present my work and actually involve the participants during the closing
reception. This will be done by having those at the reception choose a cup from the back
wall installation, take it home and incorporate the piece into their daily lives.
The paintings on the walls are included to give a feeling of being surrounded by
vessels, not to be merely decoration for a pottery show. The paintings, like the cups, are
all the same size to emphasize !he repetition experienced through production pottery.
I want the people viewing these works to physically interact with the functional pots.
My wish is that by living with a piece of my pottery, people will develop a greater
appreciation for handmade pottery.
FIGURE I. is a strait forward view of the installation at Bryant Hall. It includes the
cup wall at the back of the gallery, 2 of the 8 paintings of teapots on the left and right
walls, cups on pedestals in front of the paintings and teapots in the center of the room.
The installation was specifically designed for this site. The back wall was measured
and the number of cups was calculated to be exactly 600. The remaining 48 cups are on
6 pedestals, placed in front of the paintings on the side walls, to bring some cups into the
gallery space and create a visual relationship between the two dimensional and three
The teapots are grouped together in the center of the room on 7 pedestals, as shown in
FIGURE V, to act as a focal point and visually break the horizontal plane of the back cup
wall. They also reference the teapot paintings on the side walls.
FIGURE II. and FIGURE III. are mirror images of each other -- in that each consists
of 4 paintings and 24 cups on 3 pedestals. There is symmetry in the room and a
regimented placement of paintings and ceramics.
The cup wall consists ofa~ shelving unit that is constructed of birch plywood with a
facing of dark brown stained trim. The design for the shelves is reminiscent of a
Japanese shoji door. This design was chosen because of its simplistic horizontal lines
and lack of ornamentation. This simple design allows the emphasis to remain on the 600
cups while providing a visually pleasing, but non-obtrusive structure.
The cups in FIGURE IV. are porcelain and stoneware. The 600 cups that occupy the
structure are all of similar fonn. The shapes of the cups are square, triangular or
cylindrical and reminiscent of the Japanese tea cups. The colors of the cups are wann
earth tones with an occasional use of green, black and blue. Carving, brushwork and
pressed pattern was used on some cups, while some were left smooth. The cups taper to
the top, while the belly of the cup is fuller. A modest color palette (in comparison to the
number of cups produced) consists of vitreous slips and engobes. The slips used are
black, brown, blue and green. The glazes used are Shino, Temmoku, Celadon and
Buttermilk. Various effects are achieved with the same glazes by firing in different kilns
and atmospheres.
1998. 9" x 13"
My teapots in the installation are thrown and assembled. My teapots consists of four
pieces -- the body of the pot, the spout, the lid and the handle. Occasionally, the handle is
made in two pieces and joined at the uppermost point as in FIGURE VI. The spout and
handle are attached to the body in the leather hard stage. The connection of the spout and
the handle are not smoothed, but the process is left obvious. The lids are thrown in one
of two ways -- either to sit down inside of the neck as a drop lid or to sit on top of the pot
as a domed lid. Once formed, some of the teapots are altered by cutting and paddling.
The surfaces are glazed with a single glaze or a combination of glazes. The glaze I use
most frequently used is the Shlno glaze as in FIGURE VII. The Shino glaze has a quality
that works well in the reduction and salt kiln. When oxidized, the Shino has an oatmeal
appearance and when it is reduced, it has a more sanguine color.
The teapots are placed in the center of the gallery to complement the cups on the wall
as well as the paintings of teapots on the side walls.
TEAPOT PAINTINGS 1998. 38" x 40"
The use of the mark making ~on the canvas, I feel, has similarities to the glazes on the
ceramics. There is a free use of marks to define the fonn. The use of color on the canvas
is more liberal, in that the pure color red is used as in FIGURE VIII. There is a "let it be"
attitude towards the paint. There are purposeful drips, scribbles and under-paintings
There is more use of graphite in FIGURE IX. The graphite is scribbled onto the light
colored background. Peaking from the teapot form of the previous marks and drips of
paint and graphite. The paintings consist of oil, acrylic and graphite. Teapots are the
subject matter of the eight paintings. The color palette mainly reflects many of the earth
tone colors used in the ceramic pieces.
The paintings are intended to take the appearance of the actual teapots in the center of
the gallery, and to develop a relationship between the two dimensional and three
dimensional work.
The paintings are intended to have a visual connection to the cups on the pedestals
directly in front of them. The paintings also show a reference to the teapots in the center
of the room.
Arbuckle, Linda. '''The Majolica of Linda Arbuckle." Clay Times May/June. 1997: 9.
Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life. New York: HarperPerennial, 1990.
Hamer, Frank and Janet. The Potter's Dictionary. Philadelphia, PA: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1975.
A Lark Ceramics Book. The Ceramic Design Book: A Gallery of Contemporary Work.
Asheville, NC: Lark Books, 1998.
Leach, Bernard. A Potter's Book. England: Mackays of Chatham, 1976.
Mansfield, Janet. Salt Glazed Ceramics: An International Perspective. Radnor, PA:
Chilton Book Company, 1992.
Peterson, Susan. Shoji Hamada: A Potters Way and Work. New York: Weatherhill, Inc.,
Shahn, Ben. The Shape of Content. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957.
Troy, Jack. Wood Fired Stoneware and Porcelain. Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company,
Yanagi, Soetsu. The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty. New York:
Kodansha America Inc., 1989.
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Everett E. Henderson, Jr. Was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on January 9, 1967. He
attended Culkin Elementary School until sixth grade and Warren Central Junior High
until eighth grade. He graduated from high school at Warren Central High School in
After high school, Everett went to ~emphis College of Art until 1986. He then
returned to Mississippi for two years and attended Hinds Community College. He
returned to Memphis to study painting at the University of Memphis where he obtained
his B.F.A. During that time, Everett discovered his love for clay.
In August of 1995, Everett entered the graduate program in Ceramics at the University
of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. He graduated in December of 1998 with a Master
of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Ceramics. He and his wife are presently
preparing to move to Gainesville, Florida where Phyllis will study architecture and
Everett will continue producing pottery.