Artisan Interviews with John Bollow Vitality Fine Art Show “Creating Life Pathways” Event at Kradwell in Tosa

Enjoy an interview with John Bollow of Wauwatosa and myself as we share with you the Artisans showing at the Vitality Fine Art Show ” Creating Life pathways” on May 21st, 2011,  at the Aurora Center at 1220 Dewey st off the Village of Wauwatosa.

First off – can we have a little background information on you –

Where you live? (If you don’t mind answering)


I live in Wauwatosa and work out of my basement. I’m a retired third grade teacher of 30 years.


What first drew you to Art? How long ago was that?


Of course I’ve taken art ed. courses as an under graduate, but I got into pottery 8-9 years ago when my daughter talked me into taking a wheel workshop at the UWM Arts and Craft Center.


How would you describe your medium?


I work with stoneware and porcelain clays mostly. I experiment with commercial and home made glazes.


What does it feel like to create?


Creating a piece that is functional or decorative feels very satisfying as long as I like the results which is not all the time. Having a physical product is refreshing after teaching for so long where the results are less material.


What motivates you? Compliments from other potters.


What inspires you? A glaze that turns out better than expected.


Are you working on any new Art Projects (if more than one);


1) Tell us about your main project?

 I like working on all kinds of shapes and clays. Lately I’ve been making crystalline plates and platters as well as flower pots.


2) Why did you choose this forum to express your art?

Just by chance.   I found it to be good therapy in that it replaced the

stressful aspects of life.


3) Where are you at with your main project now?

Still learning and always will be.


What advice would you a young Artisan in promoting their Art?

Make what you enjoy making.


Do you think that being a Artisan is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?


Everyone has some form of artistic talent. Practice improves it.


What is the best advice you have ever been given in your field of Art?


Don’t fall in love with your work.


How many hours do you work daily on your Art and what are your daily tasks for your work?


About 4-6 hours a day. Throwing clay, glazing, cleaning, reading and researching.


What will you be showing at the Vitality Fine Art Fair, Creating Life Pathways; in the Learning Gardens at Kradwell?

Flower pots, bird houses, bowls, plates, cups, and teapots.

 Jon Shares his resume with us here

 Over the Hill Pottery

Why “over the hill pottery”?  Several years ago my daughter asked me if I’d like to take a ceramic wheel course at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Craft Center with her.  At the time I was approaching 60 years and had retired from teaching elementary school in Wauwatosa.  So over the hill doesn’t refer to the landscape, but the age at which I got into making pottery.  The women in my family are all talented artists.  My wife has a BFA painting, my younger daughter is an accomplished painter, and said older daughter has several creative artistic interests.  I’ve always admired their talent and creativity. 

Art was something I included in my work every day for nearly 30 years as a third grade teacher.  After taking my first wheel course I took another and another, working one or two days a week .  I really hadn’t become very good at it until I was given the opportunity to have studio space where I could work as often and as long as I wanted.  I sold my boat and used the money to buy my own pottery wheel.  I was back to including art in my every day.  I was also fortunate to have a mentor to throw ideas and problems at.

I read a lot, look at a lot of pictures, go to many galleries, and visit lots of museums and art shows.  After a couple years my work became less imitation and more representative of the experiments I attempted from stoneware bowls, to majolica decoration, to crystalline platters.  The fun is in getting my hands in the clay and coming up with a finished product that I feel good about.  My best work, I feel, is what I can discover next.

I have participated in in sales at The UWM Union Studio Arts and Craft Center, Third Ward Gallery Night/Day,  Open House at The Arts Building, 133 W. Pittsburgh in Milwaukee, Art Walk at Party on the Pavement in Racine, and First Fridays Racine, and The Donna Lexa Memorial Art Fair in Wales. 

 BEdu. UWM

MEdu. National Louis U.

 John A. Bollow

More interviews to follow-You can read about the other Artisans who will be showing by clicking here




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