Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson


Vase. Samantha Henneke, Bulldog Pottery. 2004.


Soup Tureen. Val Cushing. Mid-1990s.

Maker/Collector Statement

Biographical note regarding Val Cushing's significance on American Ceramics. (Information supplied by Samantha Henneke & Bruce Gholson.)

Val Cushing (1931-2013)
Val Cushing loved the colors of autumn. I remember, one of the first slide presentations he showed my class had an image of a lone acorn sitting on his driveway. He then showed an image of his covered jar that the acorn inspired. What an amazing eye opener for me--- the beauty and simplicity of an acorn can be transformed into a beautiful covered jar made from clay on a potter’s wheel.  

As a potter and educator, Val Cushing had a major impact on American Ceramics. He was a distinguished teacher at Alfred University teaching ceramics and the value of clay and glaze chemistry from 1957 until his retirement in 1997. After retirement, Val focused his attentions to his family and continued to make pottery in his studio full time. Val Cushing was a major advocate for the teaching of functional pottery as part of the University Art curriculum. He is celebrated for his contributions and dissemination of knowledge about clay and glaze science in an in-depth and understandable way for studio clay artists.  

Soup Tureen
Samantha Henneke - Val Cushing was my teacher at Alfred University while I was studying for my BFA in ceramics from 1992-1995. Val taught me the magic world of glaze and clay chemistry. He inspired in me the beauty of ceramic form and enriched my view of the potential world of ceramics.

Bruce Gholson - In the years before going to Alfred, I read extensively about clay and glaze chemistry. The way Val presented the material brought clarity to what had been a lot of random information in my mind. I sat in on as many of his classes as possible while attending Alfred for my MFA.

Samantha Henneke threw the elegant vase we have selected as our prized piece from our collection for the Makers Collect Show at the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC. In 2004, we had a solo exhibition at the Natural Science Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our exhibition caught the eye of Charlotte V. Brown (now Charlotte Wainwright) who at the time was the Director of the Gregg Museum at NC State and conducting research for her book The Remarkable Potters of Seagrove , in which this vase is pictured. Soon after the museum show, Charlotte visited Seagrove and interviewed us for her book and invited us to exhibit at the Gregg Museum in 2007. We feel the vase is a beautiful example from one of our early series of successful matte crystalline glazes developed at Bulldog Pottery after opening our shop in 2001. The vase has a rich verdant green depth and crystal structure that reminds us of the prismatic hues of spring in Seagrove, NC. The tall slender shape is one of Samantha’s favorite forms to throw and for Samantha it can allude to a mix of castle towers, Cycladic figures, gourds, or the slender elegance of a wasp’s body. 

Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson