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Potter Roberta Actor 2017

Roberta Actor

I first experienced the magic of clay as a toddler, but didn’t get serious about it until much later in life. Throughout my career in graphic arts and textiles, my designs were inspired by the textures and glazed images on on tiles and pottery. I took classes periodically but I really struggled to learn to throw on the wheel and didn’t master it.

In 2005 I decided to get serious about throwing and signed up for a night class at Glendale Community College. Those classes were the highlight of my life for four years. I learned to throw pretty well and I bought a really cool old treadle wheel from a woman who’d found it in a scrap metal salvage yard. It was probably built in the 1940s and, amazingly, it was in working condition. I’m still using it.

In early 2009 we moved from Southern California to Northern California, which was like going home, since I was born in Sacramento. We built a little house on eight acres near Lakeport in Lake County. There was a long pause in ceramics production until 2013, while I was absorbed with construction, gardens, chickens, and family life.

In 2013 I started to throw again and bought a gas kiln. In early 2016, I signed up for a class at Mendocino Community College. I credit both Gregg Lindsley and Doug Browe at MCC with teaching me to finally throw some decent pots. I set up a little studio at home and mixed up my favorite glazes.


Glazes and the firing process itself can make even the most subtle changes in surface beautiful, so texture is a big part of ceramics. Colors are infinitely varied – bright, intense or earthy, and deep or lustrous. From the start, I’ve carved or decorated surfaces of many of my pots, looking to the same beautiful leaves, flowers, birds and bugs that inspired my textile designs.

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