Doug Paeth works in hand-thrown high-temperature ceramics, a medium that functions as both a geologically engaged and therapeutic practice. Inspired by local and naturally-sourced clays, his current pottery uses up to 100% natural clay formations in glaze applications. He strives to use minerals in their most native form. Working with 2,300-degree temperatures-as hot as lava has been measured near the earth's surface-his practice is connected not only with locally sourced materials, but allows the art to express the primitive, natural, and creative forces of geological activity.
Doug has worked in pottery intermittently for nearly five decades. In the 1980s, his work focused on closed vessel forms. His more recent work focuses on open and wing-shaped forms, which take inspiration from flight. Living with Parkinson's disease, Doug's former experiences in flight, including paragliding, are now translated in his pottery.
The helix has special meaning to Doug, it occurs in free flight thermaling, where a pilot uses rising currents of warm air to gain altitude. The helix is now representative in his artistic practice. He writes, "I miss tracing circles in the sky, and the joyful ascension as circles build into the helix, and my fingers now find this form again as I pull the earth skyward from my spinning potter's wheel." In this way, these wide-crested, wing-shaped bowls are a testament to the transformative power of growth and healing. Flight, the defiance of gravity, is central to Doug's pottery.
The shift from closed vessels to open bowls is one stage of an evolving practice. While continuing to compose nearly all glazes from base minerals rather than pre-designed mixed glazes, his ongoing work experiments with new wheel-thrown and modified forms.