Treasure in mud
Octogenarian potter shares product of lifelong love of clay
Adam Scoggin first found creative joy painting in elementary school, building in high school shop class and developing film in a darkroom through his 20s. With a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the College of Idaho and a master’s degree in counseling from Claremont in California, creatively expressing himself took a back seat to financial security for his family. For years he nurtured others as a minister, an elementary school teacher, a junior high school counselor, a special education teacher and a drug and alcohol counselor.
In his 80 years, Scoggin has been in a lot of places. His love for clay began when he was “strolling through an arts and crafts fair at Scripps College one Saturday,” he writes on his website. “Beautiful pottery and their creator’s personalities and clay weathered hands touched me as if those same hands were laid on my head. I wanted to be one of them.”
He went on to take classes and travel, focusing on natural arts. For three summers, he studied with Marguerite Wildenhain and he found bliss.
Fast forward to now. Stepping into his studio, a converted horse barn on his property west of Spokane, one cannot help but feel the passion and love that goes into his work; hand-built or wheel-thrown birdbaths, pitchers, vessels, mirrors, platters, bowls, tiles and wall pieces adorned with accents of color (naturally occurring or painted) and texture, including leaves and carved images.
Scoggin’s wife Kathee assists her husband with some of the design work, setting up displays for exhibits, pricing, and serving as “quality control,” occasionally taking a hammer to a piece. “He’s always trying new things,” she said.
Using an array of tools and different types of kilns, Scoggin enjoys experimenting with alternative firing, including horsehair, pit or saggar firing, and naked raku. His newest series, called “Ancestors,” came to him about four years ago as he was recuperating from shoulder and thumb surgery. “Ancestors just popped into my head,” he said, “I started sketching and making prototypes out of paper.” Standing 1 to 7 feet tall, the figures exude tranquility and have been selling rapidly.
Scoggin regularly participates in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and exhibits at the Emerald Garden and Entree Gallery in Idaho, and at Pottery Place Plus at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane. Next Saturday, Scoggin will be opening his studio for the second annual Slightly West of Spokane Artists’ Studio Tour.
The free self-guided tour includes a dozen artists in seven studios in the Cheney/Medical Lake area. Scoggin, who also holds private classes in his studio, will share his space with one of his students, Michelle Schneider, who has been studying with Scoggin for almost two years. The stay-at-home mom will exhibit mugs, bowls and slab platters.
Like his ancestors, Scoggin exudes tranquility. He has found bliss playing in the mud.
The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email email@example.com.