Permanent Collection 2007.02.01
Ben Owens III was inspired to make pottery by his grandfather, Ben Owens Sr., who would often ask young Ben to help in his studio in 1977. Owens III spent the majority of his afternoons in his grandfather’s workshop learning to throw pots on a wheel. He would begin the throwing process by placing a hunk of clay in the middle of the throwing wheel and pumping a pedal that makes the wheel spin. With steady, skillful hands, the spinning allows the clay to be molded symmetrically as the wheel spins faster and faster. At 13 years of age, Owens III apprenticed for his father and grandfather and eventually attended East Carolina University on the coast of North Carolina, where he earned his BFA in ceramics in 1994. In 1995, he traveled to Japan for a clay workshop and, like the Ben Owens that preceded him was heavily inspired by the culture. Owens III went on to teach at Penland School of Crafts, as well as several other arts institutions and continues to exhibit his work nationally and internationally. Ben Owens III is one of the youngest and most contemporary of the Owens family today.
The Owen family is known for developing the rich Chinese red glaze that is a signature characteristic of Owen’s family pottery. This might be because Ben Owens Jr. was heavily influenced by Chinese clay bodies. This vase by Ben Owens III shows off the perfected red glaze recipe of the Owen’s family. Such a bright and vibrant red is very difficult to achieve, because of how sensitive red glaze is during the firing process. How tightly the kiln is packed, the other glazes being fired in the kiln, and especially the temperature can seriously impact the final color and shade of red.