The Woman Behind the Wheel: an Interview with Ruth Sachs

P1040017BWhat inspired you to start making pottery?

I have worked with some kind of art or craft since I was a child. I studied sciences in college and took several two dimensional art classes, which I loved. After working and raising my children, I continued with my love of art by studying metalsmithing. My work with metals and jewelry evolved into my love of three dimensional art, and I continued with working in clay. After a few years, I decided to get serious and spent some time at Alfred University; which is the Mecca of clay and ceramic art. I took a masters level intense workshop where I refined my skills and studied glaze making. Shortly after that, I was invited by the director of the Art League of Long Island to start teaching and coordinating their Ceramics Department. I continued with that and worked there to develop the program and all of the glazes that are used there.

Are you exclusively a potter or do you make other kinds of art?

At this time I consider myself a Ceramic Artist and Jewelry Maker. I mostly make my work by hand-building with slabs of clay or throwing on the potter’s wheel. My work has been featured in the Kaaterskill Gallery of Fine Arts & Crafts since its inception. My jewelry is eclectic. It is a mix of some of my handmade ceramic beads and a colorful mixture of precious and semi-precious gem beads. I make mostly earrings and necklaces because I feel they are easy to wear for all occasions. I have also curated ceramic exhibits on Long Island and in Greene County. My work is collected internationally and published in ceramic articles and books.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I make mostly functional art by working on the potter’s wheel or by hand building slabs of clay. I draw my inspiration from life experiences. I am inspired by my surroundings; colors of the landscape on Long Island, and my love of the Catskill Mountains. I love texture and colors from nature. I form a lump of clay into something useful to be handled and used every day. It is my goal to give everyone the opportunity to touch and use my creations in their environment on a regular basis. It has become my passion. I manipulate my world by manipulating clay.

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Do you have a favorite musician? Do you ever listen to music when you create?

I listen to music when in my own studio. I put on National Public Radio, and sometimes, I put a small TV on to keep me company and fill in on the news. I also like Scandal, Castle, and Downton Abbey, but I’m not strict about watching any TV program. If I miss it, it doesn’t bother me. I listen to Classic Jazz, Classical and sometimes Country music when I’m alone, otherwise, I find music distracting – especially while teaching or doing workshops.

Could you tell me about yourself and your background?

My background is quite simple. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey and went to a regional High School. My parents both worked very hard to make it possible for me to go to college; I was the first in my family to attend. I went to a small college in upstate New York where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Immediately after college, I went to New York City to work. I met my future husband there, and we fell in love and got married. We moved to Florida where my husband was in the Air Force. Then, after military service, we moved back to New York City, then to Long Island where we have lived and P1040171Braised a family. When our daughters were in college, I continued to advance my abilities in jewelry making and ceramics. I attended Alfred University to develop my mastery in ceramics and shortly after, I was hired to develop the ceramics program at the Art League of Long Island. After almost twenty years, I retired from my position.

Personally, I love to travel and have been many places all over the world. My most recent favorite was Iceland. In the winter I love to ski at Hunter Mountain, and summer finds me fishing on Long Island.

After almost twenty years of teaching beginning through advanced students hand-building, wheel throwing, Raku, and workshops in tool making, mold making, and coordinating the program at the Art league of Long Island, I have retired. I look forward to working in my studios on Long Island and in the Catskills and continue my passion – clay.

Ruth’s work will be featured in the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery, coming soon!

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