Dan Saultman: My journeys and experiences in pottery and clay arts.
My career as an artist began in 1969 after receiving my bachelors degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. My major was Automotive Design with a minor in Graphic Design. I was recruited by General Motors as an designer/stylist but after only one year of employment I was drafted into the US Army. After serving a year at the West Point Military Academy, I was transferred to a military base in Manheim, Germany, where my introduction to pottery began.
In 1972, while in the Army in Germany, I began to notice and enjoy the beauty of
high-fired stoneware. It was visible in many villages and shops offering a
treasure of styles colors and form. For a year I hungrily read everything
I could on the subject. When I got out of the Army in 1973, I found an old farm
house in Howell, Michigan (near Ann Arbor) to begin building my first
pottery studio. I took classes from Harrison Deller at the Bloomfield
Art Association learning to throw on the potters wheel and the fundamentals of clay and glazes. Although just a beginner, I hungrily took in all I learned and began to turn out decent pots. I mixed my own glazes and sold the finished ware in a small out building on my property. I also got into one of the smaller side street shows during the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I struggled to keep going, to make enough money to survive, but finally three years later I was forced to shut down the pottery due to lack of sufficient income from pottery sales. With just a pickup truckload of possessions I traveled to SanFrancisco. There I got a job working for Jon Lopez, a ceramist who created large slip cast stoneware figures that were sold through the American
Express catalog. I learned about casting and firing huge car kilns. Here I
also learned about using stains, washes and once-fired ware. Once-fired ware is not bisque fired and then glaze fired at a higher temperature, but glazed green and fired only one time. But sales took a downturn, I was let go. Since I had a college degree in Industrial Design and Graphic Design, I followed in that direction, ultimately working in Hollywood, California, as a graphic designer designing point of sale promotional products for the movie and video industry.
In the 80's I returned to Flint, Michigan, to live and be near my parents
and siblings. I selected an old hardware store to live in and slowly began
to build an art gallery and clay studio called "The Country Potter". Five years later I had 26 artists and a completely renovated building. I fired my work in an electric kiln and
explored cone 6 glazes and clay bodies. Trying to capture some of my European visual memories, I created a series of miniature 17th century European row houses using stains and earthenware clay.
The 90's found me in Greeley Colorado teaching pottery and graphics design
at Aims Community College. I exhibitied large circular disc plaques featuring old men's faces in a Sun face theme, at a local art gallery. I also learned how to work wrought iron which would later draw me towards integrating clay and stainless steel into my pottery pieces. Still working with an electric kiln, I yearned to have a gas kiln and fire my work at a higher temperature (2300 degrees F) so that I might acquire more variegated colors and depth to my glazes.
Now I live in the Detroit area. I have that gas kiln and am happily making the kind of work that I have always loved. It's hard to sum up your clay art life in a page. Needless to say, you have to leave out a few details. The bottom line is that I care passionately about this art form, about clay, glazes and sculptural esthetics. I strive to make my customers happy
and care about the details.