Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blog Hiatus

I have switched to Instagram to show and talk about my work. You can find me on Instagram as @sarahholtceramics, or if you're not on Instagram, you can still view my posts at

Friday, May 22, 2015

Winter, Spring, Studio Tour

So glad that winter is over!  My friend Suzanne was up at the School this spring for the 8-week class with Cynthia Bringle, and her constant refrain was "I want Snow!  Where's the snow?!"  Maybe it's the residual trauma from the frozen wood kiln building class of spring 2013...people in Charlotte must lead deprived lives!  I'm from Illinois where a winter storm usually involves 1/2 inch of ice, followed by between 4-12 inches of snow, and then 24 hours of 30-40 mph winds...but road conditions that wouldn't make me blink back home become show stoppers here when you add hills to the equation! 

Fortunately this winter I was holed up in the Penland Clay studio, first doing the Winter Woodfire Residency, where 6 of us fired the wood kiln off over 5 days (beautiful pots, but yet another reminder that I don't have the endurance for multi-day firings!), and then making 500 mugs for the Penland 2015 Benefit Auction.  The mugs were a slightly insane educational 8-week sprint, but I'm happy with the results.

Firing the mugs had me falling in love all over again with that part of the process- golly I've missed venturi burners!  I always think of firing as though the kiln is like a musical instrument: if you know how to play the multitude of variables available at your fingertips, you can coax all manner of subtlety and variety of tone from the kiln.  The person I have to thank for introducing me to the idea of having a passion for firing in particular, and for teaching me a lot of the nuances of firing, was Tracy Dotson, who passed away recently.  Tracy was a potter, but I think even more so a builder and firer of kilns...and his enthusiasm was contagious.  I had the good fortune to fire a kiln with him during a Penland class some years ago, when I was just starting to learn to fire.  It was just the two of us out on the kiln pad, and he spent the afternoon talking and showing me through every little detail of how to adjust all the variables involved, and different ways to read what was going on in the kiln.  The technical knowledge was a wonderful gift, but just as important was his passion for firing.  Tracy once told me that after he unloaded a firing, he liked to climb into the kiln and sit inside for a while, soaking in the warmth left in the kiln from the firing. 

Right now I'm finishing up work for the May firing with Gay Smith- by the time I leave the studio Sunday everything has to be glazed, wadded and ready to go in the kiln!  The work from this firing is for the June Toe River Arts Council Studio Tour which is coming up on June 5-7th.  I will be showing again at Gay's studio at 1529 Cane Creek Road, in Bakersville NC. The weather up here is lovely and warm now, and the mountain laurel and rhododendron are blooming, so hopefully a lot of people will come out for the Tour.

FYI, the TRAC tour hours are 12-4 on Friday, and 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday, with a reception at the TRAC Gallery on Upper Street (269 Oak Ave.) in Spruce Pine on Friday from 5-7pm

You can find more information about the tour at

Auction Mugs- I particularly liked the shot below on the part of the Craft House porch
 where Penland gets its logo from.

 Work in progress for the the upcoming firing, with Tristan the Corgi, my four-legged decorating and advisory/supervisory staff, with his friend and visiting nap specialist Ruff.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Can you resist this cute?

In my last post I mentioned that Tristan the Corgi had some medical problems this Fall- a fast growing, but ultimately benign, tumor on his chest.  I had it removed right away, despite it not being something I could really financially afford to do.  Today I received word that after reviewing his application, CorgiPals, a 501(c)3 non-profit that raises funds for corgis needing help with medical bills, has agreed to sponsor a fundraiser to help pay for Tristan's tumor removal.  If you are interested in contributing to his fundraiser, follow the link to his page here.  Thank you in advance, and a big thank you to Paige Davis and everyone at CorgiPals!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life in Paradise

Every time I talk to my friend Joe now, he asks me "How's life in Paradise?"...and while I can hardly claim that life in Penland, NC is totally without its trials and tribulations, it's probably as close to heaven on earth as I'm going to get.

It's kind of nice having this view a few hundred yards from my front door...

This is my new studio space in Gay Smith's studio.

And some pottery in progress...

I found a little button tumor on Tristan's chest in October...and had it taken off (it turned out to be benign), but it meant he had to wear clothes for a week or so to keep his stitches clean.  I present "Hipster Corgi". (I couldn't find Converses in his size.)

A week later we got the first snow of the year, so we had a frolic on the Knoll...I think the green was more his color.

We only got a little over an inch, but it looked nice coming down...

One of the joys of being up here is house sitting for people with awesome collections of handmade pottery and in point, tonight's dinner: note the Ruggles and Rankin bowl containing my salad.

I haven't put a recipe on here in a while, so here's the original version of tonight's salad:

Starfruit Persimmon and Fennel Salad

I made this a lot last Fall in Florida- I could get most of the ingredients from the produce section of the flea market for about 5 bucks. Serves 3-4

Hazelnut Praline Topping

1/2 cup Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tbs Unsalted Butter

1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar


First put a sheet of waxed paper on a baking sheet. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan over medium heat.  When you are just starting to smell the nuts toasting, add the butter.  Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and a little water, no more than 1/2 teaspoon, just enough to start the sugar melting.  Cook the mixture for another 2-3 min, stirring constantly, as the sugar caramelizes a little- don't let it scorch.  Remove from heat and spread out on the waxed paper.  Set aside to cool while you prep the rest of the salad.


1 large head Green Oak Leaf Lettuce, trimmed and torn in bite size pieces

2 crunchy Persimmons, halved and sliced (Make sure you get the flatter Asian variety that is intended to be eaten in the less ripe, more crunchy state- the American variety, and some Asian varieties are intended to get so ripe as to be transparent -looking spoiled!- and even undergo a hard freeze before they're eatable.  If you're unsure, cut yourself a slice first, and touch it on your tongue- if it's under-ripe it's very dry and puckery feeling.)

2 medium Starfruit, cut in 1/4 inch slices, discard ends and remove seeds

1 head Fennel, remove the green stems, remove the core and slice in 1/8 inch thick slices

1/3 cup shaved Asiago, use a potato peeler to make thick shavings, then lightly crumble

Hazelnut Topping
 Set aside a few choice pieces of the fruit and fennel for garnish, then toss the lettuce with the rest of the persimmon, starfruit and fennel in a large serving bowl.  Turn the cooled hazelnuts out on a cutting board and coarsely chop.  Set a healthy tablespoon each of the hazelnut praline and the cheese aside for garnish, and then toss the rest with the salad.  Garnish first with the reserved fruit and fennel, then the reserved cheese and hazelnuts.


1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 tbs Rice Vinegar

1 1/2 tbs White Wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)

1/2 tbs Honey (I use Orange Blossom)
Mix until the honey is dissolved.  This can be passed at the table, or tossed with the salad just before adding the garnish.

Here’s a view of the Toll House in the snow.  Note the red fire hose box is no longer there.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

All moved out...

Signed the wall...

...Cleaned out the studio...

...And packed up the apartment.   Extra points if you can find the corgi among the boxes and crates.

North Carolina, here I come! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


A couple news bulletins...

The next thing on my plate is that I will be moving to wonderful Penland, NC (my other home sweet home!) in a few short weeks to start an apprenticeship with Gay Smith...super excited!

I had a piece selected for this year's Strictly Functional Pottery National!  This is a highly competitive annual national exhibition (over 1200 entries, 117 pieces selected this year), so I'm thrilled to have been selected!  The exhibit will be up from September 20th through November 1st in Lancaster, PA.  Find more info about the show here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Photos from Nature/Nurture Solo Show




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Solo Show Opening This Saturday!

Please note that I'm also starting a mailing list for future announcements, so if you'd like to be included, make a comment indicating your interest, and include your email (don't worry, I receive all comments privately!)