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Interview with Dina Wilde-Ramsing, October 26, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Dina Wilde-Ramsing, October 26, 2007
October 26, 2007
Interview with clay artist Dina Wilde-Ramsing, in which she discusses her background and education, her career in the arts, techniques and materials of her craft, and her relationships with other well-known local artists.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Wilde-Ramsing, Dina Interviewer:  Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview:  10/26/2007 Series:  Arts Length  80 minutes


Hayes: Greetings.

Wilde-Ramsing: Greetings.

Hayes: Sherman Hayes, university librarian at William Madison Randall Library at UNCW. And today I'm interviewing?

Wilde-Ramsing: Dina Wilde-Ramsing.

Hayes: Dina Wilde--

Wilde-Ramsing: Wilde.

Hayes: Ramsing. Three names that you automatically came up with.

Wilde-Ramsing: My last name is hyphenated.

Hayes: As?

Wilde-Ramsing: My name was Dina Wilde, and then married my husband, Mark Ramsing ____________. So you have this huge, very unwieldy last name, which I will never, never do again.

Hayes: Never do again.

Wilde-Ramsing: If I had a chance to.

Hayes: But you've been doing that for a long time, and now you're comfortable.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: It was Dina? Is that--

Wilde-Ramsing: D-I-N-A.

Hayes: That's how you--?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's my grandmother's name.

Hayes: That's nice. And you're a potter. Is that a professional artist, or ceramic?

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm just a potter.

Hayes: But whereas we talk later and see some of your work, I think people would say ceramics as well, because you do lots of figures and animals and different things, where sometimes potter can imply--

Wilde-Ramsing: I never know what to say though, because if somebody asks me what I do, I never say I'm an artist, because then that implies a painter or maybe-- and I'd certainly want people to know I work with clay, so I usually say a potter, but I don't make a lot of pots. I guess I could say clay artist.

Hayes: Clay artist. Well, what about in the art world? Is this a conversation point for identification even in the art world?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. It's a thing. There's craft and art, and that's kind of a topic in the art-- at least in the clay world, is a craft, is a craft medium, and craft medium being art. It's not considered usually a fine art, like painting and sculpture, that kind of thing.

Hayes: Well, we're talking to artists, and you keep coming up as one of the leading clay artists in the region.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's amazing. It makes me feel very nice.

Hayes: And it's true. Today we're going to cover about your art and your own creativity and some history, because you've been a long term member of the Wilmington art community, correct? In larger terms, but you've lived in Wilmington for how long?

Wilde-Ramsing: We moved to Wilmington in 1980.

Hayes: And today is October--

Wilde-Ramsing: That's not true. That's when we bought the first house here in Wilmington.

Hayes: Oh, you came before.

Wilde-Ramsing: We actually moved here in, I guess it was '77, yeah, '77.

Hayes: Before we go down that journey, why don't we get some contact stuff. Where were you born, where did you grow up and how did you get to Wilmington? Let's do that piece a little bit first.

Wilde-Ramsing: I was born in Asheville, North Carolina. When I was nine, we went to Chapel Hill, and lived there till I was 15, and then we moved to Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Hayes: Is Rocky Mount the one not too far outside Raleigh?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, it's about an hour from Raleigh. It's north of here.

Hayes: But not Rocky Point.

Wilde-Ramsing: Not Rocky Point, no.

Hayes: Which is in Pender County.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. Rocky Mount's further. It's in Nash County, Edgecombe County. I graduated from high school there and then went to Wake Forest University.

Hayes: Was art in high school? Was that an early--?

Wilde-Ramsing: I've always drawn since I was just a child, you know, always. But it was not-- what's the word? It was not stressed in my family as something that was good enough to pursue as a career. It was like, "Well, you can always do that in your spare time." But, you know, my parents encouraged me to go into other things, you know, other more, I guess, normal studies, you know, academic things. So I got an archeology degree at UNC. Went to Wake Forest for two years in archeology, then transferred to Chapel Hill, got an archeology degree.

Hayes: And that was actual archeology, not anthropology?

Wilde-Ramsing: It was anthropology/archeology.

Hayes: That concentration.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, of archeology.

Hayes: Interesting. You remember studying quite a bit about pottery, even then.

Wilde-Ramsing: Oh yeah.

Hayes: I was going to say, so much of archeology is--

Wilde-Ramsing: I thought so much about what I would ____________ because I'm totally not a scientist, and I thought that maybe I could become one. But I soon realized that I really liked archeology just because of artifacts. That's what I liked. I liked the objects because they were so beautiful and just amazing. Things that you would dig up and see.

Hayes: So even at the undergraduate level, you were able to do digs and so forth?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, I did a few. Not many. Nothing that I dreamed of--

Hayes: The Native American material, probably.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, some of that, and then out in New Mexico, that's where I met my husband. He was also in the same field school from Wake Forest University. So we met out there in Taos, doing a pueblo dig. So anyway, after I got that degree, I did a few little jobs here and there, archeology things, but after a while, I just realized it was not for me. So I ________ thought, and wanted to go to art school.

Hayes: Not just do it. You wanted to actually go get the training.

Wilde-Ramsing: Mm-hmm. I was making stuff and went to little pottery classes and painting, you know, on my own, thinking they were--

Hayes: Yeah.

Wilde-Ramsing: And I said, "Well, I've got to do something, and I really like this, and why can't I be an artist, you know? What's wrong with that?" So I went back to art school and I actually got an art education degree, but I--

Hayes: Where did you go for that?

Wilde-Ramsing: East Carolina. I got a studio concentration in ceramics.

Hayes: This would have been in the '70s?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. I think it was-- well, I graduated in '75. I guess it was '73.

Hayes: The only reason I asked that was that the reputation today is excellent, as far as large art school, lots and lots of students. Were they a good choice for you at that point?

Wilde-Ramsing: It was very good. I had a great education there. I just loved it, and they're very serious. A very serious school. Oh, ___________. I don't have any--

Hayes: It's all right.

Wilde-Ramsing: Sorry about that.

Hayes: For the record, she gave me a wonderful iced tea from a ceramic vessel.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's from Ben Owen's studio, although I doubt that he made it, but it's from one of his-- probably one of his assistants or something made it.

Hayes: It's good.

Wilde-Ramsing: Clay sweats, you know, when you have something cold in it. I could get you a paper towel.

Hayes: No, we're fine, great. Keep rolling. So you were at ECU and you were saying you liked it. You had a good time.

Wilde-Ramsing: I loved it. I had a great time.

Hayes: Were you married at that point? No.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, we were married. We'd just gotten married.

Hayes: And he continued school?

Wilde-Ramsing: And he was working as an archeologist for the state of North Carolina-- well, after the first six months he was. He worked on a tar roof for six months.

Hayes: What does that mean, work on a tar roof?

Wilde-Ramsing: He put roofs on, a roofer. But he was applying for jobs and he did get a job. He started working for the state of North Carolina archeology branch or unit or whatever it's called. Then he got, after--

Hayes: And then his name is?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mark.

Hayes: Mark?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

Hayes: Wilde-Ramsing.

Wilde-Ramsing: We both got a surname. He's the Ramsing, I'm the Wilde.

Hayes: But that's spelled not W-I-L-D, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's with an E.

Hayes: Okay, because you could have an interesting set of accusations. She was always wild.

Wilde-Ramsing: When I was at ECU, people signed up to fire kilns. Usually we were a team and you'd get a team partner to fire a kiln. And my team partner was a really good friend. Her name was Gigi Tease. So when we'd sign up for it, it would say Wilde-Tease on the list there, and everybody would make fun of that.

Hayes: So you took the education thinking at least you could teach?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: In other words, the dilemma for any fine artist is always employment, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Right. Well, and money. It's a field that doesn't lend itself to making money very well. So I was going to teach, and I did my student teaching, and that cured me at the start.

Hayes: It was not a good experience.

Wilde-Ramsing: Well, it was but it's so hard to be a teacher. I admire teachers so much, because they're on, it's show time every day, 7:30, 8 o'clock in the morning till, you know, 3 o'clock, just on show. I don't think I would have been a very good teacher.

Hayes: So you would have been trained to be an art teacher, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, kindergarten to 12th grade. I did that, student teaching, but I did think, "Well gosh, I could teach pottery. That's something I could do." So that's what I did after we moved to Wilmington.

Hayes: So you came to Wilmington for work, for your husband?

Wilde-Ramsing: He got hired by Fort Fisher, the archeology branch down at Fort Fisher, as an archeologist, state archeologist. We moved here and we had one child. Well, we had two children at that point, our two children.

Hayes: What are their names?

Wilde-Ramsing: Joseph and Kee.

Hayes: And do they go by Wilde-Ramsing?

Wilde-Ramsing: Wilde-Ramsing.

Hayes: I'll just put that in for the record.

Wilde-Ramsing: My daughter's a jeweler here. She works here in town.

Hayes: What kind of--?

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm actually wearing one.

Hayes: Great.

Wilde-Ramsing: She made this.

Hayes: I'll get in closer here.

Wilde-Ramsing: You can get that.

Hayes: She does this professionally?

Wilde-Ramsing: No, she does it on the side. She works at Café Phoenix.

Hayes: That's fine.

Wilde-Ramsing: A great advertisement.

Hayes: That's good.

Wilde-Ramsing: She does it in her spare time, like a lot of girls do. But she likes it. Anyway, where was I?

Hayes: So you came to Wilmington, two small children in 1977, you said earlier, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Seventy-seven, yes. My son was born in '78.

Hayes: Did you immediately try to immerse yourself in the art community?

Wilde-Ramsing: The first person-- the first potter I met-- I went to the art center to see if they had any chance of employment to teach classes. And that was just right before Hiroshi had moved here to Wilmington. And they said, "Oh, this wonderful Japanese potter's moving in. You've got to talk to him and ___________." So he, at that point, he was the artist in residence for Cape Fear Community College, which is called Cape Fear Tech now. And he had his studio on the barge. You know the barge?

Hayes: The barge? What barge?

Wilde-Ramsing: You don't know?

Hayes: No. This is great. An actual barge?

Wilde-Ramsing: An actual barge, yes. And they had a lot of-- I don't know exactly what they did there, besides my class and Hiroshi's studio. They had other activities going on there. And it was moored down at the front at the end of the street there, I don't know, Red Cross Street?

Hayes: Isn't that interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: They taught classes. It was a huge barge, and that's where Hiroshi's studio was, and they allowed me to start a pottery class right next door to his studio. The first class was called Creative Activities, and it wasn't actually all pottery. It was all kinds of art ________ and drawing--

Hayes: Now do you have a master's degree?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. I have a bachelor's degree.

Hayes: I know ___________ must have. We'll talk about that later.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, we should.

Hayes: But she was allowed to have you as a teacher, because you had the background.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: You taught everything there?

Wilde-Ramsing: It was just starting. Dan Headman was my boss there, and he was just trying to get art started there. He was great.

Hayes: And who was at the university at that point? It was quite small.

Wilde-Ramsing: Steven Choir [ph?]

Hayes: Steven Choir was the sculptor.

Wilde-Ramsing: He was the sculptor and he taught ceramic pottery.

Hayes: Just one. Claude probably was out there still going, or not?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, he was. I don't know if he was at the university, but he was definitely around, and a great presence in this community.

Hayes: That was great. So you convinced them immediately to work. So you started right away then.

Wilde-Ramsing: Right teaching that class, and then it just kind of grew. Then Hiroshi's residency was, after a year, he was able to come, and we moved the classes-- they were growing. The classes were growing, and so we moved over to the art center on Orange Street, the community arts center, that big huge--

Hayes: The old US phone building.

Wilde-Ramsing: Uh-huh.

Hayes: Was that in the basement there?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. We were very much in the basement. We had dirt floors, cracked floors.

Hayes: Right from the beginning, you were down in that--

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, on Orange Street.

Hayes: On the Orange Street side.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. And the entrance to the pottery classes was on Orange Street, ____________.

Hayes: St. John's Art Museum.

Wilde-Ramsing: Right.

Hayes: Was that St. John's Art Museum at the time?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: So that was a natural. But weren't you away from the campus? Did that make a difference?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. Cape Fear-- we were actually-- let me say, this was actually-- it wasn't in the regular curriculum. It was the continuing education.

Hayes: I was going to ask you, what were your students like?

Wilde-Ramsing: They were adults, and there was one morning class and then there were two night classes, Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday. And they were all adults from all walks of life and all professions who wanted to learn how to make pottery. They were packed.

Hayes: Really?

Wilde-Ramsing: Oh yes. They were packed.

Hayes: You must have been the only game in town.

Wilde-Ramsing: Pretty much. There's a lot more now, but pretty much. There were some.

Hayes: Was Hiroshi a teacher as well at this point?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, yes. He and I started teaching there, and like I said, I had taught that one class while he was a resident on the barge. But then we were able to expand the classes, because he was there too. So Orange Street Pottery grew from there.

Hayes: You use the term Orange Street Pottery as if it was--

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, it is, for us potters, yeah.

Hayes: I'm saying, that's different than the community college?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. It was just-- I don't want to get anybody in trouble here, but we had to pretty much raise our own money. We had to charge people. We sold clay to them for the students, so we set up an entity, a business entity, and had our own check book and bank account called Orange Street Pottery. So we sold the tools and the clay, and sometimes bought equipment, because Cape Fear didn't have a lot of resources for pottery back then.

Hayes: The people paid their tuition to Cape Fear.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Then Cape Fear hired you as the instructors.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. So we were paid __________ for Cape Fear.

Hayes: And the people didn't earn college credits, necessarily. It was continuing ed.

Wilde-Ramsing: No. You would get teacher certification, re-certification, that kind of thing.

Hayes: At some point, it must have become credits too, did it not?

Wilde-Ramsing: That didn't happen until pretty recently, like maybe about ten years ago. They started offering actual college credit.

Hayes: Same program, but they changed the--

Wilde-Ramsing: That was a little bit different. We had different forms to fill out, and different, because they were actually-- Cape Fear actually funded their materials and their course, everything. So that was a different branch. The continuing education classes were still separate.

Hayes: Still Orange Street. So I still hear the term Orange Street Pottery, but now it's just really the community college, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: No.

Hayes: It's just a group of people that--

Wilde-Ramsing: See, this is about the time I moved away, so I don't really know. After I moved, which was seven years ago--

Hayes: Moved?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mark and I moved to Morehead City. I forget what year. I guess it was 2000 that we moved. Orange Street Pottery, I hadn't been teaching there for a while. After I stopped teaching, Traudi Thornton taught there, and then Traudi stopped teaching, and then I went back for a few years, and I quit again. And then Don Johns came in and Brian Evans came in, and they both taught.

Hayes: So many potters in town, that's great.

Wilde-Ramsing: See, you'd have to talk to Hiroshi or somebody else, because I don't really know.

Hayes: Just getting a sense where you're at. While you're doing this then, your own work is progressing besides the teaching. You weren't just a teacher. You were a practicing artist, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: As a potter or ceramic artist or clay artist, what's your outlet to distribute or sell your work? Tell me a little about what the clay world's like.

Wilde-Ramsing: Research. You have to find galleries that you like, that I like, and who, they like me. So that's a mutual thing.

Hayes: Traditional art gallery.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: But not all of them carry clay.

Wilde-Ramsing: No. Not all of them, but it's becoming most of them do now.

Hayes: Have you seen that change over time?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, definitely. I think that clay, as a real art form, has definitely come into its own in the last 20 some years.

Hayes: So when you got here, did you have a gallery initially then?

Wilde-Ramsing: Well, I've been with New Elements Gallery since it used to be-- it started out as Deacon Gallery, which was--

Hayes: D-E-A-C-O-N.

Wilde-Ramsing: C-O-N. It was Dea Zolo who since-- does not live here any more, but it was on Casper Street. It was in a house and that was a very fine-- one of the first galleries in town that would take clay. And it was a very nice gallery. They had really nice paintings and everything. And then that was sold to the Callendar [ph?]. I can't remember their first name. They moved it down to where Sterimone's [ph?] is now. Sterimone's Restaurant down on Front Street. Anyway, so the restaurant down there, that used to be. And that was when the name became New Elements.

Hayes: And that lady is still--

Wilde-Ramsing: Elizabeth Callendar. I don't know where she is now.

Hayes: But the current New Elements person--

Wilde-Ramsing: So Elizabeth, I guess, sold it to Merriman, or Merriman acquired it, whatever, and moved it to where it is today.

Hayes: And you started with them as a--

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: That's great. That's kind of unusual, isn't it? To have a long term relationship?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's always been very good. They've always sold very well for me, and I've liked all the owners, and _______--

Hayes: Your work is well known locally. Does a gallery like that attempt to push you regionally or nationally? I don't know how galleries work.

Wilde-Ramsing: I think they-- yeah, I don't know about nationally, but I'm sure they would jump at the chance if there was something like that. Maybe that something will ________ I don't know. But yes, they definitely keep up with collectors and corporations, and they try to reach out to corporations around the area. _____ come see-- come to New Elements, or come to whatever gallery, if you're looking for art for your buildings or whatever.

Hayes: A question I always wonder, when you work with a gallery do you really ever know who buys your work?

Wilde-Ramsing: A lot of times, no. I could find out, I'm sure, if I asked. I'm sure I would think it doesn't matter. And I do know some.

Hayes: I just wondered. They're not children, but they are products that you'd kind of like to know--

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, it is interesting. I know that a lot of artists are more conscientious about keeping track of that kind of thing than I am. It's something that I should do, but I'm a terrible businessperson, and I don't really. I haven't even-- gosh, it's embarrassing-- I haven't updated my resume in about five years. Slack.

Hayes: Let me ask you about when you came in '77 up to '80 and bought a house. Who were the people that quickly accepted you? Who were some of the other artists that were here? They may not all still be here, but that would help us.

Wilde-Ramsing: Elizabeth Darrow.

Hayes: Who's still here. She'd probably just come.

Wilde-Ramsing: Always loved her work so much. And I met Traudi pretty quickly. She and I became friends, first thing. And of course, Hiroshi and I have always been good friends. And I knew Steven Choir and I knew Don Furst-- I know Alice first.

Hayes: Is that Don Furst's wife?

Wilde-Ramsing: His wife.

Hayes: And she's an artist too?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Oh, I didn't know.

Wilde-Ramsing: She is in art. She's great. She's a really good artist. And she's painting, but the last I knew, she was doing murals, commissioned. But I haven't--

Hayes: And for the record, Don Furst had the art history department now, and is a print maker, and has been here a long time. So I'm just saying that contacts--

Wilde-Ramsing: Minnie Evans was here, although I didn't know her, but _________.

Hayes: What about Renn Brown [ph?], was he--?

Wilde-Ramsing: I don't even know that person. Len Brown?

Hayes: Renn Brown. St. John's, you know.

Wilde-Ramsing: Okay.

Hayes: I wonder how St. John's reacted to the ceramics work. I didn't know if they used you folks, or helped you?

Wilde-Ramsing: A little bit. We were the sales gallery, pretty much. But no, they did-- I had a show at St. John's, actually. Once.

Hayes: When was that?

Wilde-Ramsing: A while ago. Gosh, you get me on these years.

Hayes: Okay, roughly.

Wilde-Ramsing: It was a long time ago, 15, 20 years ago, maybe.

Hayes: Are there artists that you really admired or worked with come and gone? That would help get a sense, because you almost left.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. I'm glad to be back.

Hayes: When we were doing this, your name kept coming up at, "She's really good." I want to talk about your other six houses concept. But then I kept saying, "Where does she live?" You've been here so long.

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm trying to think of when I first came. I was pretty young, and didn't really know people for a while. Joanne Olfert [ph?], she was one of my best friends. She's an artist, but she is an art teacher, and so all her talents are put into her teaching. But she does wonderful work for herself. She doesn't really sell.

Hayes: Where does she teach out?

Wilde-Ramsing: Pender County.

Hayes: High school, middle school?

Wilde-Ramsing: Elementary school. And, gosh, is it Fritzi? I knew Fritzi for a long time.

Hayes: Fritzi Huber.

Wilde-Ramsing: Huber, who's great. And Pam, I knew Pam.

Hayes: Pam Toll.

Wilde-Ramsing: Pam, a little bit later.

Hayes: The thing I'm trying to get to is the sense that the art community seems to be supportive of each other. The same people who've been here for quite some time still know each other, still support each other.

Wilde-Ramsing: I think so.

Hayes: As a senior member of the art community-- sorry for that.

Wilde-Ramsing: I say that, because I wouldn't necessarily put-- I don't know, worthy. I've been here a long time.

Hayes: A long time. I wasn't saying senior as in--

Wilde-Ramsing: No, I didn't mean that.

Hayes: Senior citizen. I just meant a veteran.

Wilde-Ramsing: I am a senior citizen, but I don't put myself on the level of many Wilmington artists.

Hayes: Somebody else can judge that. Obviously your name keeps coming up at that level. Do you see some obligation to help young people when they come in themselves?

Wilde-Ramsing: Oh, sure __________, you know.

Hayes: That's what I'm saying.

Wilde-Ramsing: I like teaching pottery, you know, and I've made many friends, and saw people who just progressed and became-- you know, you can see their talent, their skill develop. And you know that they could be great artists, you know. But people have other jobs and you have to make money. It's a little bit of a fantasy, you know. You see somebody with the passion to do it, really want to do it, and go for it. I would like to help all I can.

Hayes: That's what I'm saying. Sometimes the outside world sees the competitiveness that's necessary. My work is sold or your work is sold, and so forth.

Wilde-Ramsing: It can be that--

Hayes: But I'm not finding that. I'm finding an awful lot of cooperation.

Wilde-Ramsing: I've really not seen much of that in Wilmington, just from my experience. It seems to me that everybody's art is so different, you know. It's not like you do something that someone else-- if somebody started copying me, then I might get competitive. I would say, "Wait a minute! Come on, now. Find your own ideas." Yeah, I don't think it's-- my experience is that it's not like that, that we're all friends. Everybody wants to see artists in general be, you know, successful, because that helps everybody.

Hayes: Can we talk a little bit about your current and past work? And you're welcome to get up and if I don't block you here, and pick something up and bring it over. I know some people who can't see this, we'll try to describe it the best we can. It's one thing to talk about how you got here and what you do, but in the end, a lot of it is about what you make. What do you create? So do you want to bring something over?

Wilde-Ramsing: You pick something out.

Hayes: No, I'm just saying. Is this recent here?

Wilde-Ramsing: These are recent.

Hayes: I just want to--

Wilde-Ramsing: Hold it?

Hayes: I don't want to buy it just yet, so how does that figure in? Make sure I get it in.

Wilde-Ramsing: I think you should look at every--

Hayes: It doesn't look like a pot.

Wilde-Ramsing: No, it's not a pot.

Hayes: I'm just kidding, just kidding. A sculptural form? Is that what you--

Wilde-Ramsing: Instead of doing ________.

Hayes: Yeah, got it. They're looking at it, and we'll describe it as a tall--

Wilde-Ramsing: Pedestal?

Hayes: Pedestal.

Wilde-Ramsing: Perch? _________ perch?

Hayes: But not barren. With all kinds of designs and patterns. And are those a scratching technique? Or what's the tool?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. It's a couple of different tools, just scratch through the clay, randomly but with some sense of design. If I don't like it, I'll work it off and start over.

Hayes: So this particular--

Wilde-Ramsing: This is done while the clay's still wet.

Hayes: So you started with a large body of clay. Is it hand formed? This is not a wheel, per se.

Wilde-Ramsing: No. I have a slab roller in there, where those _________ are standing. It's like a press, like a printing press, and it rolls out--

Hayes: This machine right there?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. See the handle?

Hayes: Oh, I see. Wow. So you put it in, in a rough form and then you just--

Wilde-Ramsing: Put a big block of clay, and you kind of pound it down, so it's not too fat. It's usually two or three inches. And then you just keep rolling it back and forth through this press, and you get a large, flat piece of clay.

Hayes: And you can control--

Wilde-Ramsing: The thickness.

Hayes: The thickness. Interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: You can make it really thin or you can make it really thick.

Hayes: Are you risking that air and so forth in that? How do you keep from--?

Wilde-Ramsing: You wedge it before you roll it.

Hayes: What's wedging mean?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's working the clay to get air bubbles out.

Hayes: So you've got to physically wedge the clay.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Is there a particular type of clay that you use mainly?

Wilde-Ramsing: I've been fine for about ten years now with a low fire clay. It's called earth and wind, it's a terracotta. It's different from porcelain, because it's a much lower temperature. It's still hard, but it's not--

Hayes: Firing is the final process where you're baking the clay.

Wilde-Ramsing: Put it in the kiln and heat it up. Make it hard. Make it permanent, yes.

Hayes: Do you have to go mine that yourself?

Wilde-Ramsing: No.

(overlapping conversation)

Wilde-Ramsing: With an archeology background, I thought maybe you were--

Hayes: I'll watch someone do that. A lot of people do that.

Wilde-Ramsing: I remember something about blue clay.

Hayes: A lot of people have done that, and I've worked with some of that clay too. It's really nice. That's a very high firing clay.

Wilde-Ramsing: That's a local clay.

Hayes: Yes.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's a commercial product that you--

Hayes: I buy it. You have favorite suppliers and people who consistently give you what you want?

Wilde-Ramsing: Right.

Hayes: So the first selection is the clay itself, and this working. And now you've got a slab. The piece we're looking at is not a slab.

Wilde-Ramsing: Right. In this case, it's like building a building, basically. You have slabs of clay and you cut them and put them together like this, to make them into this. Now some of them, like these fish, are also made from slabs.

Hayes: Let me bring one. Is there any particular one? The white one?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, the white one, or one of those. And one of those little horses right there.

Hayes: Good. We're doing great. Those are very-- I guess that they're not really, are they. They're pretty substantial.

Wilde-Ramsing: If you dropped them, they would break.

(overlapping conversation)

Wilde-Ramsing: They're sturdy. It's not fine china. But these are also made from slabs, and of course, these have to be cut a little bit more carefully than if you're making something as simple as this. This would start out with sort of a body form, front and back, two pieces. And you put it together, and then you get your hand up inside there and mold it, push it out. Then you push it in. Push it out, and you get all these different, you know, the knees will come out. This will go in.

Hayes: Why is this any different than sculpture?

Wilde-Ramsing: It is sculpture. It's clay sculpting.

Hayes: It's clay sculpture, but the end product to me, particularly as these figures, could easily be metal or copper or stone. You've used different techniques but you're trying to not necessarily do representational, but--

Wilde-Ramsing: Right. No. It's nobody you know, or nobody from history.

Hayes: So that's somebody you know. Those are great. And then the ______ the bulb is the same process?

Wilde-Ramsing: This one was made solid. I sculpted the whole bird solid. And I use a paddle a lot, and I use both ends of this. So I have a big block of clay, and I'm squeezing out a head, pinching the wings out, pinching the feet, pinching the tail out. Then I'll take different shapes of paddles and whack, whack, whack-whack-whack, and do its head like this.

Hayes: How malleable is the clay?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's very soft.

Hayes: Soft at this point.

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm taking things off. But it's solid, solid piece. Using this part to--

Hayes: What color's the clay? Is it red?

Wilde-Ramsing: Red, or sort of brownish red. I could show you.

Hayes: That's fine. I think most people have seen that clay.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's terracotta.

Hayes: Meaning earth.

Wilde-Ramsing: So then after I get it made, it's too-- it will blow up, if I left it solid, because it's too thick.

Hayes: What do you mean, blow up?

Wilde-Ramsing: In the kiln, when it heats up, if the clay's too solid, the air, the water and the moisture, the steam in the clay, tries to get out.

Hayes: Really? And it explodes?

Wilde-Ramsing: It explodes, if you have it too thick.

Hayes: What about that big solid piece that you have here? Is that solid?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's not. This is hollow.

Hayes: Oh, it's hollow. Oh, okay.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, _________ and for air bubble-- for air, and it's a decoration.

Hayes: So these are conscious holes that you wanted.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, for venting, because a closed form will explode also.

Hayes: What does a temperature get to when you finally fire it?

Wilde-Ramsing: The temperature I'd fire to for these is 2000 degrees.

Hayes: Two thousand?

Wilde-Ramsing: And that's low, though. That's a low temperature for ceramics.

Hayes: And how long would it be in there at 2000 degrees?

Wilde-Ramsing: About 12 hours.

Hayes: So for 12 hours it's baking.

Wilde-Ramsing: Temperature wise, it's gradually. You start out at sort of a low temperature and let it move up gradually. Then you get to a certain temperature, and then you just let it go. It eventually gets up to 2000.

Hayes: Does it have the same gradual--

Wilde-Ramsing: And then you just shut it off. Now you can. A lot of people do that. They call it down firing. You can _________ crystal in glazes, if--

Hayes: Yeah, I have seen-- I'm trying to think, Sid Oakley.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, Sid Oakley.

Hayes: Did a lot of that. That's a change in the temperature.

Wilde-Ramsing: Bill ________ doing it now--

Hayes: What--

Wilde-Ramsing: __________ Hall.

Hayes: Here in town?

Wilde-Ramsing: Now she runs-- owns Fat Cat Gallery. She sells clay stuff, and she's great.

Hayes: Let me ask you from a conceptual standpoint, you do figures. Has this been a pattern much of your career? Animal and shapes and so forth, as opposed to a straight pot? Has that been a long term--?

Wilde-Ramsing: I started out when I was in school making pots, and that's what I was going to do. But I couldn't-- I was drawing on everything. I was making the pot and then drawing on it, and I loved that. But interestingly enough, back in the '70s, pottery has changed so much since then. Back then, it was a little bit _______ to decorate your pottery.

Hayes: You mean, to change it over from the normal--

Wilde-Ramsing: To draw on it.

Hayes: So your column thing in the '70s would have been seen as--

Wilde-Ramsing: I think what I'm saying is about, if you actually make a bowl. If you make pottery, back then, the idea was it should be-- it should look like the earth. This was the '70s. It was back to the earth and all that. ________ were usually-- well, Steven _______ had this story. He said-- funny story, when he was teaching, they would ask him what color glazes he had in the classes, and he said, "Beautiful brown 1, beautiful brown 2, beautiful brown 3 and beautiful brown 4." So that was the idea. Pottery should be brown and sturdy and functional, and were supposed to be all rolled by hand.

Hayes: If you attempted to decorate it, you were doing sacrilege to the clay?

Wilde-Ramsing: You were a little frou-frou, if you did that.

Hayes: _________ frou-frou?

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm not sure where that term came from. Yeah, you were sort of __________ as a decorator, not a potter.

Hayes: Is this part of the ladies, the tradition--

Wilde-Ramsing: ___________.

Hayes: There's the craft, kind of natural craft that grew into art?

Wilde-Ramsing: You were supposed to be humble. Don't sign your pots.

Hayes: Oh really? Not even signing?

Wilde-Ramsing: No, just give it as your gift to the earth.

(overlapping conversation)

Wilde-Ramsing: -- tried my best to get my teachers to tell me how to make the drawings not run with the glaze.

Hayes: Okay, let's talk a little bit about glaze. Glaze is, for those who maybe don't know what pottery is, that the seal, that's the covering.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah.

Hayes: Now could you fire that without glaze?

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure. It would just be raw clay, like a clay pot, flowerpot.

Hayes: Clay flowerpot. I'm sure some people do that, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure.

Hayes: Glaze, though, gives you a whole other medium for color and for fires, textures.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: But you don't always know how it's going to come out, right? Can you tell? In your own mind, are you pretty clear?

Wilde-Ramsing: From experience, you know which glaze you like, which one and how it works. How thick to put it on, how thin to make it, how it reacts with other glazes if you overlap them, how it looks on one type of clay as compared to another. Whether you need to fire a little bit hotter.

Hayes: So let's ask that telling question. Everything that goes into the kiln doesn't always meet your satisfaction when it comes out?

Wilde-Ramsing: I'd say it's about 50 percent comes out really good.

Hayes: I think that's--

Wilde-Ramsing: -- comes out like--

Hayes: Oop. That's the point. It isn't a precise science.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: And you have something in mind.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's a little less than most-- than a lot of art media.

Hayes: When you put it into the kiln, you have to wait and see what happens, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Pretty much, yeah. Now this kiln, electric kilns are much more predictable than fuel kilns.

Hayes: Where would a fuel kiln be?

Wilde-Ramsing: Like fired gas or oil or coal, or like a raku kiln, wood and straw.

Hayes: Raku kiln, I don't know what that is.

Wilde-Ramsing: Raku is, you fire-- you put the pots and you've left the glaze on it, and you fire it up real quickly to a certain temperature. You shut it off, yank it out, really hot, out of the kiln with tongs and big, big gloves. And then you put it into a combustible material, straw or grass and leaves, newspaper, in a bucket, and--

Hayes: It burns?

Wilde-Ramsing: It just smokes, of course. Everything catches fire. Put a lid on that, and it sits in a container of smoke for many minutes, until it's cool enough to take out.

Hayes: Is there a glaze on those too?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. And the glaze is molten when you take it out of the kiln. It's like liquid--

Hayes: So--

Wilde-Ramsing: -- pots, a sticky liquid.

Hayes: So in some ways, raku is experimentation to see what happens.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: You don't know what's going to happen, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: _________. You should talk to Hiroshi about this--

Hayes: Well, we will.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's a-- he could tell it a lot better. It's kind of a zen idea of the process is just as important as the product. You know, actually doing what you're doing is part of the actual end result.

Hayes: But the work that you're doing, you want it to come out with a--

Wilde-Ramsing: I have an idea what--

Hayes: That's what I'm saying. You have a preconceived-- so what about--

Wilde-Ramsing: There are really wonderful surprises though which, by the way, is one of the best things being a potter, is that sometimes that kiln will just give you gifts, like, oh my gosh, this is so beautiful. And you didn't plan on it, and you didn't-- it's like wow. It's very--

Hayes: So I was wondering about, for example, the piece that we're looking at with-- his ears are curled on top. I didn't know if it was a-- a bird.

Wilde-Ramsing: Generic blackbird.

Hayes: Little blackbird. So the patterns were a real conscious plan. In other words, you're trying to do something with that, as opposed to, if you'd put it in and just said, "Whatever comes out." You're actually drawing again, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: And the same with one of those figures. You're constructing how you hope the glaze will fall into the various pieces and so forth.

Wilde-Ramsing: All this comes with-- excuse me, working with-- you have to know your materials and what you're going to do. You have to know what this glaze does as compared to this one.

Hayes: Are you always looking for new things?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mm-hmm, testing. I think most potters have a stash of test tiles.

Hayes: What's that? What's a test tile?

Wilde-Ramsing: Where you test a new glaze or a new way of doing things. And you have little pieces, or broken pots that you just want to test. So you put the glaze on it or the finish, whatever, _________--

Hayes: And do you log those or keep those?

Wilde-Ramsing: I keep a record of them. Sometimes they come out great and sometimes they don't.

Hayes: But you actually say temperature and color and glaze. Does glaze have a name?

Wilde-Ramsing: Glazes have names, yeah.

Hayes: Where do you get a glaze? Do you make a glaze?

Wilde-Ramsing: A lot of people make up their own. Traudi's really good at just developing her own glazes, just out of her head, you know, saying, "Oh, I think this will look good with that."

Hayes: What's a glaze? Is it just a chemical?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's different chemicals mixed together in different proportions. There's a bunch of ceramic materials, you know, and depending on what amounts and what proportions you put together, they do different things. They fire at different temperatures.

Hayes: Wow, so you're a little bit of a chemist.

Wilde-Ramsing: I'm not. I get recipes from others. I don't make my own, but I do use those in my own way. I will use someone else's formula and combine it with another formula--

Hayes: You mean like a company's formula? Is that where you would buy--

Wilde-Ramsing: No. It's usually potters'. And there's many, many books of glaze recipes.

Hayes: Actually called recipes?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: That's interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: Recipes, and weigh it on a scale.

Hayes: And you use a brush to put on glaze?

Wilde-Ramsing: Some of them. You can dip it in a bucket of glaze, the whole thing. You can spray it on--

Hayes: Could you fire--

Wilde-Ramsing: You can paint it.

Hayes: Fire it for a while and then put it one a second time, a different one? Can you do more than one?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah, you can re-fire. You can't do it until the kiln cools down, because it's too hot, __________ burn yourself.

Hayes: So sometimes, do people have multiple glazes on?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Is that how you get different colors, particularly?

Wilde-Ramsing: Mm-hmm. And multiple firings, like I said. You can take it out of the kiln, put another glaze on it, put it back. Keep putting--

Hayes: Put it back in. But you still have your risk of how will that come out, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes, until you do it enough so that you pretty much know what's it's going to do. And that's how you can control your product. It's not like you're-- I hardly ever put anything in there where I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen.

Hayes: Right. But you've been doing this for some time.

Wilde-Ramsing: A long time.

Hayes: And so for a beginning artist, potter, even if they know the skills, they've got a lot of time--

Wilde-Ramsing: Experimenting.

Hayes: Experimenting.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's a long history.

Hayes: And lots of--

Wilde-Ramsing: Lots of heartbreak too.

Hayes: Do you feel that way?

Wilde-Ramsing: I know I do. It's sad, because things come out horrible, when you're first learning. And I still have things come out wrong. When I'm testing something and think it's going to work, and then oops.

Hayes: I would guess that as an artist, you don't want to be the same every time. Is that part of what drives you? Why not just make 100 of these figures if they're successful.

Wilde-Ramsing: That would just be boring. It would be boring, yeah. I think people would get bored with them too. Not only myself, but people get tired of seeing them.

Hayes: What I'm getting at is the dilemma, as modern technology comes along, they produce such amazing things that you could buy. What distinguishes the fact that a personal touch was in it? It gets art.

Wilde-Ramsing: I think that's what art is, right? I mean, why would you paint-- buy a painting, if you could go buy a print? They're a lot cheaper. Probably put it on your wall and frame it, and maybe nobody would ever know it wasn't real, you know.

Hayes: It was real. It wasn't original.

Wilde-Ramsing: Right. It wasn't photographed and then put on paper. __________________.

Hayes: I see--

Wilde-Ramsing: _________ chef, you know.

Hayes: The studio, and I can get one big one here which I really find amazing. This-- I'd better be careful with this one.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's heavy. It's pretty sturdy.

Hayes: I like that one. That's really something. Wow.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. I do a lot of those guys.

Hayes: Yeah, I thought you did, so I just wanted to talk a little bit about what is the force that was getting you started in this all?

Wilde-Ramsing: Well, I just have a fetish for horses first of all.

Hayes: Oh, do you?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yeah. I've never been a rider, but I've always loved horses and drawn horses since I was a little kid, for some reason. I just think they're beautiful, you know. The angle and the shape, and the way they look.

Hayes: That's an interesting horse. It's almost--

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. It's developed into a beast.

Hayes: Is that what you call it? Does it have a name?

Wilde-Ramsing: I just call it the beast. I don't know. I like-- it's not really a horse, if you look closely. It's--

Hayes: Yeah. The proportions are interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's like a ____________ horse or something.

Hayes: I'm a science fiction fan, and I almost see it as a mythological figure, of even a flying dragon almost. It has elements of that. But you do a lot of this, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: I do. And I usually have riders, of varying things. I'm not sure what kind of creatures _________. What does it look like to you?

Hayes: I don't know. That's a good one.

(overlapping conversation)

Hayes: -- obviously a friendly creature that's looking at you. Let's talk a little bit technical in the sense of, here you have lots of different colors, and physical results. What were the techniques to get the nose and so forth to be so different, and the black to be black? It's not paint, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. Everything's fired in the kiln. It's not like acrylics. But clay paints are pretty much like acrylic or oil paints. It's just that you have to fire them in the kiln to make them look other than just powder. This was made with slabs also.

Hayes: Describe it about a--

Wilde-Ramsing: The colors and everything--

Hayes: Foot high and a foot wide and very wonderful horse like figure, with a creature behind. You have yellows and greens.

Wilde-Ramsing: Different colored glazes. I don't want to get too technical here, but there's no actual glaze on this piece. It is under glazes and slips.

Hayes: Slips?

Wilde-Ramsing: Slips is like-- it's the same thing as a glaze, but it's not shiny. And it's thinner.

Hayes: But it seals--

Wilde-Ramsing: And it's not as functional. But it seals and it gives color and texture.

Hayes: Slips. And under glazes--

Wilde-Ramsing: Under glazes, I use commercial ones, you can see, like here. I don't want to be advertising for anyone. I buy them in a jar. They come from a factory. I just pour them in a bowl, and take a sponge and just do the sponge all over it. And these are two different colors, a yellow one and a blue one. And __________ them together back and forth.

Hayes: But the tail is a more traditional glaze?

Wilde-Ramsing: The tail is a black slip. It's copper-- very poisonous stuff-- copper, manganese and cobalt and some red clay, liquid red clay, mixed with water. And when you paint it, it turns black. It has this nice melted sort of finish, kind of like metal.

Hayes: Yeah, I like that. It's really nice.

Wilde-Ramsing: This one has got another-- this has got-- teresa gelata [ph?] is a term, like the Greek pottery, from Greek and Romans. That black and red attic _________ ware, where they drew little pictures on it. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Hayes: I don't think so.

Wilde-Ramsing: Well, just a think of a Roman potter, black and red pot. Does something come to your mind?

Hayes: Yeah.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's basically this color.

Hayes: And then we would paint the various figures on it. Then when they fired it, it came out black.

Wilde-Ramsing: Black and red.

Hayes: And red.

Wilde-Ramsing: That's basically what that is. It's called teresa gelata, and it means "sealed earth." And it's just a slip that you mix up with different chemicals, and has kind of a sheen to it, like an ivy finish.

Hayes: If you want to bear with me a second, I'm going to change tapes.

(tape change)

Hayes: We're back. Tape number two with Dina Wilde-Ramsing. I'll try to get that clear. What happens is you say "Ramsey."

Wilde-Ramsing: I know it sounds like Ramsey.

Hayes: It's R-A-M-S-I-N-G. Since it's his name, what does it matter, right?

Wilde-Ramsing: Most people would think it's Indian, Asian, or Middle Eastern.

Hayes: Off camera we were talking a little bit about the changing way that as an artist you have to market yourself. You've used the traditional gallery to good effect. Have you been a participant in the local art fairs and shows and so forth?

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure.

Hayes: Have those been good outlets?

Wilde-Ramsing: Fairs. They are very profitable for me.

Hayes: What kinds of fairs?

Wilde-Ramsing: I go to the Piedmont Crafts Fair, which is down below Institution and Winston-Salem. Piedmont Craftsmen. It's been around for a long time.

Hayes: Do they find your work accepting? In other words, the fact that you're doing a fine arts?

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure. It's very high end craft. The American Craft Council has wonderful fairs where the work is just amazing. It's wonderful stuff.

Hayes: And you go to those, too?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Would those be rotating?

Wilde-Ramsing: They are all over the country. There's Baltimore, Atlanta.

Hayes: Do you have to go or do you just send your work?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. You have to go.

Hayes: And you set up?

Wilde-Ramsing: You set up the booth. They have a lot of designer stuff.

Hayes: Do you like to do those? I would think some people don't and some do.

Wilde-Ramsing: I like it. Some people don't.

Hayes: You like to talk to people?

Wilde-Ramsing: It gets exhausting, the older I get. You do have to always talk to everybody. There are lots of people and you are always smiling for two or three days in a row all day long.

Hayes: I participate in those as a buyer, local and so forth. I like it because you were talking about the hand of the artist. It adds value when I actually meet somebody. I don't necessarily have to like them or whatever, but I'm sure that's partly why people want to talk to you. They've met the artist.

Wilde-Ramsing: So you think it makes a difference? I often wonder about that.

Hayes: I guess for me, because of the type of person I am. Somebody else may not care. I know many serious collectors are about knowing the artist, knowing their background. It's a little more investment in the person. I think that's true of a lot of fields, not just-- (phone rings) Go ahead and get that, if you want to.

Wilde-Ramsing: Can I just let it go?

Hayes: Let it go. Great.

Wilde-Ramsing: That's my husband. Can I get it?

(break to answer phone)

Hayes: All right, we're back. We were talking a little bit about marketing. You said that you do these shows, which are fun. Do you do local ones, too?

Wilde-Ramsing: I used to do Pinewoods [ph?]. For years and years I did that. That one is no longer around. I haven't done one here.

Hayes: You should come back. That would be interesting to re-introduce you. I think there's always a new crowd of people coming in.

Wilde-Ramsing: If there's a fair, and I think there's some people talking about trying to revive it, which [inaudible], but I would consider doing Pinewoods. It was just out there in the [inaudible] a good venue.

Hayes: You were talking about what I thought was a very innovative idea. The group that did the eight artists and six houses, where you were--

Wilde-Ramsing: That was great for me. I was not in on the planning of that at all. It wasn't my idea, but I was invited, which I was delighted.

Hayes: What was the concept there? It was a little bit different than a traditional gallery.

Wilde-Ramsing: I really don't know. Galleries take 50%. I hope the buying public knows that. Galleries get 50% of what the artist asks. So that high price on there does not all go to the artist. Some people rebel against that. I'm not particularly one of those people. I understand and I appreciate that idea. It just makes art way too expensive, it seems like. But the galleries have got to make it, too and it's tough.

Hayes: You said your gallery here has worked for you and made it visible?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Who would know about it if you hadn't been in some of those galleries?

Wilde-Ramsing: That's true. My prices were the same as in the gallery. I did not lower prices, although we never talked about that. We never said, but apparently it got in the paper that all the prices were going to be much less than a gallery. Some of the _________ wants that.

Hayes: But the concept was that you would see the work in a setting. I think that makes a big difference.

Wilde-Ramsing: Exactly.

Hayes: Not that your house is the same is the same as that house.

Wilde-Ramsing: No. But you could see how it would enhance the environment.

Hayes: I went to that and saw your pieces like this on a side table or in an alcove. I think it does make a difference. It's a real challenge for a gallery to present the work, showcase it and yet make it seem like a home. Then I think you made it a destination to come to. Quite honestly, lots of us were interested in the houses as well.

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure. That was a big draw.

Hayes: And most of the artists were there.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: So you were bringing the personal touch that I was talking about, the house.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's kind of like the fair.

Hayes: It was a fair. And it seemed highly successful. I don't know that you can do it every year, but it was a nice concept.

Wilde-Ramsing: I thought it was great. I would love to do it again.

Hayes: People who knew you came out and supported it, but there were lots of new people.

Wilde-Ramsing: Exactly.

Hayes: Of course, the fact that the paper picked it up and was willing to talk about it was really good. But I thought that was an interesting concept. We talked a little bit about the Internet. Do you use the Internet much for product?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. I don't have a website. The galleries where I sell work from, they would have photos of my work.

Hayes: What other galleries do you have besides New Elements?

Wilde-Ramsing: I have Summerville Gallery in Chapel Hill. I have a gallery in Greenville, North Carolina, the City Art Gallery. The Odyssey Gallery in Ashville. Other ones that are a little more intermittent.

Hayes: Yes. They call and ask for work?

Wilde-Ramsing: That's right.

Hayes: In your particular area, as you said fine art craft or clay art, is there a series of competitions that you would enter as well?

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure. There's juried shows.

Hayes: How does that work?

Wilde-Ramsing: Some of them you have to pay to enter. A lot of galleries will sponsor a juried show, but it's almost a money making thing for the gallery, because you have to pay. Other places like museums or universities will have a juried show which you don't have to pay. They just invite.

Hayes: You show slides or digital? You have to send your work?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. Some of them.

Hayes: In some ways, the photograph doesn't do justice to some of the work.

Wilde-Ramsing: Right. They always say they have a final say. If the piece comes in and it doesn't look like the photograph, they'll send it back to you.

Hayes: What happens if you get into one of those shows? Do you have to pack up the work very carefully?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: Ouch?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. Very expensively ship it or drive it.

Hayes: That's on your shoulders? You pay for it?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. It used to be a long time ago the going rate for galleries was the artist got-- when I first started selling I got 70% and they got 30%. They paid for the shipping. Then it changed to 60/40. I would get 60% and they would get 40% and we would split the shipping. Now most of the time it's 50/50 and I pay the shipping.

Hayes: Whoa! What would happen with these juried shows? Do they attempt to help sell the work or is this about art academics? What's the motivation behind it?

Wilde-Ramsing: Some of it is for the gallery to make money. Those are not the ones that I like to enter. Like I said if museums or universities or groups that I respect, I would do that. They're not trying to make money. They want to sponsor a show for their institution.

Hayes: For educational purposes or bringing them together?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. For fun, for joy, for whatever.

Hayes: Let me ask you a touchy question. You can decide whether you want to answer it or not. It has always bothered me that I don't know if it's true everywhere, but Wilmington seems to be so ready to ask poor artists to donate their work for charitable purposes. Is that true everywhere? Is that a normal thing? What does it matter?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's not just Wilmington. It's a lot of places. We all get auctioned to death, yes. We all get asked for donations until a point when you have to say no. No more this year.

Hayes: You have to think about that. If you give it all away--

Wilde-Ramsing: You've got to protect yourself, not just give a lot of stuff away. You choose the ones that you think are dearest to your heart.

Hayes: So it's a form of charity. You could give money, so you give art. I just see an awful lot of art that goes for very high values to help the charity and the artist must sometimes wonder. Although I did talk to one artist who was using the interesting technique of a show tied to charity, but some of the proceeds came back to the artist, which I thought was an intermediate methodology.

Wilde-Ramsing: Some of the donations will give you. I just got a check recently from one I donated to. Actually, they gave me I think it was 33%, one-third of what they got for it. I didn't realize that, but I thought that was nice.

Hayes: So then you could at least feel like you're helping somebody, but there's some return. I would guess that these materials are not free. You've held up clay and you've held up glazes and I see a whole rack of tools.

Wilde-Ramsing: And the kiln.

Hayes: The kiln can't be inexpensive. Do they last a long time?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. They last forever if you are careful with them. You have to keep replacing the elements.

Hayes: We're talking here about the fact that you're taking what was a garage and is becoming your commercial business of sort, your workspace that's no longer available to you as a garage.

Wilde-Ramsing: I get stuck in the rain. I need a place to work. If first started working in the laundry room. That was my first studio. Then the kitchen. Now I've got a bedroom and the garage. Garages are great studios. It's small. I would love to have more room, but it's going to work. It's going to be good.

Hayes: That's good.

Wilde-Ramsing: You just have to [inaudible] not expansively around.

Hayes: You dealt with another one over here. I don't want to leave that off, because anybody making the tape wonders what this is. Is that a house? What is that?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's a container.

Hayes: A container. All right.

Wilde-Ramsing: I love to make little boxes with that closed space. I think that's a true potter's heart is that love of inside of something.

Hayes: Interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: I just love making boxes.

Hayes: But you're not doing much wood work any longer then?

Wilde-Ramsing: No. I haven't done much woodwork in a long, long time. Although I do for like Christmas presents for my family.

Hayes: Interesting. Do you lose that? Is that something you have to stay with?

Wilde-Ramsing: You do, yes. You can get it back, but if you don't do it regularly, you're not as good as if you do it all the time, like anything. You don't ever really forget how to do it.

Hayes: It's trained into your muscles.

Wilde-Ramsing: Your muscles know it after a while.

Hayes: Do you have artists nationally, regionally, locally that you see as kind of work that you extremely admire or even mentor in a sense of what you want to do?

Wilde-Ramsing: That I mentor?

Hayes: No. That you see their work as-- I'm just curious if you have any.

Wilde-Ramsing: Lucy Darrow.

Hayes: She's a painter. That's interesting.

Wilde-Ramsing: I love her work very much of all the painters in town. [inaudible] Hiroshi. Hiroshi's always been a really good friend and good influence.

Hayes: Are there professors that still exist? So many times maybe a professor or even a high school teacher was somebody that made a difference.

Wilde-Ramsing: I had Chuck Chamberlain from East Carolina and Art Haney were my teachers. I don't think either one of them are making work anymore that I know of. I couldn't say. They were good teachers. There's so many potters. Most of my friends are artists. They like a lot of people's work.

Hayes: I just meant in the sense of somebody that you--

Wilde-Ramsing: Nationally?

Hayes: That made a difference that you kind of looked to. If you see their work you think, "That's exactly what I like." Not to copy.

Wilde-Ramsing: There's so many.

Hayes: That's fine. You're in transition in the sense we were talking about. You're just getting your studio re-established. You've been somewhere else and coming back. Any sense at the end, any departure, any direction you think you're work is going to go next? Is there something that you're pining after to do?

Wilde-Ramsing: Good question. I'm getting a little tired of what I've been doing for a while. I've been doing this kind of style work for 10 years. I'm wanting to branch out and do something a little different, but I don't know what it's going to be yet.

Hayes: Will it just come to you or will it be an experimentation?

Wilde-Ramsing: It will probably be more like a transition or trying some new materials, some things that I've got in mind that I'd like to try. As we talked about the failure rate, the testing process is like, "Oh."

Hayes: So you have mixed feelings about transition?

Wilde-Ramsing: It's very easy to get in a rut. You work with things and you learn how to do it. You know it's going to be very predictable. You know what's going to happen. But then it gets sort of boring.

Hayes: Intellectually boring?

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes. It's like oh, man. No surprise. None of those wonderful kiln surprises. Technologically you know how to do it. I miss that. I think I'm going to do something different. It may not be real new, but just try something else.

Hayes: I think you have to be careful, because you're successful with what you have.

Wilde-Ramsing: I can't. It's always going to look like me. It's always going to look like my work, but it maybe will be a little different.

Hayes: You will definitely know the difference.

Wilde-Ramsing: Yes.

Hayes: We probably need to come back in a few months and see.

Wilde-Ramsing: I don't know.

Hayes: I think one of the things I'm getting at with the question is the person buys your work because they like it and they then identify you as that artist that did that. Years later they come back and see something else and they're surprised.

Wilde-Ramsing: It's so different.

Hayes: As if you would stay.

Wilde-Ramsing: I don't think that happens that much. It usually does not look completely different.

Hayes: No.

Wilde-Ramsing: You can usually see a transformation coming step by step. It's usually not something totally shocking.

Hayes: No. But the point is that an artist wants to grow. You want to change.

Wilde-Ramsing: Sure. It gets stale.

Hayes: And you can tell the difference.

Wilde-Ramsing: I would hope that everyone could see the difference. I would hope that people would say, "Oh, that's different." Like it or not like it, but not be bored with it. Let's put it that way.

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