Mad potter in Arkansas

A month or so ago I dug a hole in my front yard for a new mailbox post. The dirt looked a lot like clay, so I saved a few hunks and fired them in the kiln.


They came out a bit soft and quite crumbly, not surprising, but they more or less turned into Arkansas rocks. They look very similar to the stones found on a lot that’s just been graded for construction.

George Ohr, the Mad Potter of Biloxi, dug a lot of his clay locally in Mississippi. My father told me recently that Ohr sometimes took dirt out of the middle of the road. He’s one of a few historical characters I’d like to meet (another off the top of my head being G.K. Chesterton). The bisqued, scroddled Orh pot below shows off some of his raw materials.


Image from Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to Mad potter in Arkansas

  1. Tim J. says:

    Reminds me a lot of the red bottom land clay that was so much in abundance in Northeast Arkansas, where I used to live. I learned from an archeologist that the local tribes would dig the clay from riverbanks and that they used finely ground pre-fired clay or shell to temper it.

    I still admire the mingled beauty and utility of a lot of that pottery.

    The chunks of fired clay in the top photo remind me of what the soil in our garden looked like before we worked in a great deal of sand, sawdust, hay and manure over the years. Without it, the soil baked into something like concrete under the summer sun.

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