Pottery by Judi Munn ’80

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Pottery by Judi Munn ’80
Judi Munn ’80

Inspired by early American folk potters — and a few Ravenscroft art teachers — she produces whimsical work at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Arkansas.

“Critter Cups”
These “critter cups” are inspired by the old–time folk potters’ frog mugs. I keep an inventory of 60 different animals. This was the first line of work I did at the Folk Center when I started in 1992. I draw the animal freehand using cobalt slip in a slip trailer.

“Fern Pottery”
I use the CRC Handbook that I got from Mrs. Jenny Herbert, our Chemistry II teacher, when I do this fern pottery. Visitors to the park who work in the sciences want to know why I have this HUGE Chemistry and Physics Handbook in my workspace — I use it to press and dry the ferns I use in decorating this pottery — and they get a kick out of the ferns peeking out of the pages! Needless to say, the book is a bit shabby-looking now.

“Fish Platter with Handles”
I used cobalt slip brushwork and trailing in combination with handmade stencils using my own design. I wrote an article for the Clay Times Companion (May/June 2009) explaining how to do the process.

“Running Rabbit Casserole with Carrot Handles”
This casserole was glazed only on the inside. I love how the wood-firing decorates the bare clay with wood ash and flashing. The interior of the lid is decorated with a rabbit pattern.

Message Bottle - Hope is the thing with Feathers’”
As I am making these bottle forms, I seal a clay tablet inside that has a message on it. This one contains some of a piece of writing by poet Emily Dickinson.

“Judi Munn - Pottery Decorating”
A video showcasing some of my techniques.

Video is courtesy of Jeff Glover and Jeanette Larson; tune “Little Rock Getaway” is courtesy of Possum Juice, featuring Alanna Brewer on guitar, Oakley Smith on fiddle, my son Kai Perry on mandolin and me on upright bass. Supported by the Ozark Folk Center State Park.

Above, Munn demonstrates slip decoration using cobalt slip and hand-made stencils.

About Judi Munn ’80

Judi Munn produces pottery at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, Arkansas. During the visitor season she and her husband, John Perry, demonstrate the art of making wheel-thrown pottery to the public. They also both teach pottery classes at the Ozark Folk Center Folk Schools.

A student at Ravenscroft from fourth grade to graduation in 1980, Judi remembers having wonderful art teachers. She is especially grateful to Audrey Olsen, “Ms. Art,” in whose after-school Wheel Club she made her first wheel-thrown pottery.

Although Judi had an early interest in art, her route to becoming a potter was circuitous. She got a degree in environmental science, a master’s in education, traveled widely and spent two years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. In 1992, after taking several additional years of art classes at the University of Memphis, Judi was accepted for a pottery apprenticeship at the Ozark Folk Center State Park.

Judi says of her pottery, “In most of my work I strive to create a sense of whimsy. I want to make people laugh.” Another aspect of her work is the ties to the traditional folk potter’s techniques. She decorates her work using colored clay, the same as the early American folk potters.

Although most of her work is fired in a gas-heated kiln, once every two years she and her husband hold a workshop and teach other potters how to fire the 100-cubic-foot wood-burning Groundhog kiln. Wood firing gives warm tones to the bare clay and changes the character of the glazes.

Judi’s work is in the collections of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the late Sen. Dale Bumper’s wife, Betty. She has published articles in three major ceramics magazines: Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Making Illustrated, and Clay Times. Her work has won a variety of awards and honors. One of her pitchers is included in the book “500 Pitchers” by Lark Books. She was recently nominated for the 2022 Arkansas Living Treasure Award.