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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Fun in Form and Function

Brandon Sanderson, American Fantasy and Science Fiction author, once wrote, "Expectations are like fine pottery. The harder you hold them, the more likely they are to crack." In the world of ceramic artist Allison Shock of Three Star Owl Clay, one learns quickly to "expect the unexpected" in the fact and fiction of Allison’s thoughtfully and whimsically designed clay sculptures.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Allison lived in various parts of the U.S. during her

childhood years; Phoenix, Chicago, and New York are among the group. Life with an architect for a father was an inspirational and creative upbringing. Allison remembers his logical way of thinking; she credits it with providing her with a “step-up” attitude regarding problem-solving. "The skill of solving problems is handy when creating in any medium.” Today Allison believes, "Everything I have ever done as part of my work, from illustrating ancient Egyptian artifacts in a museum’s storeroom to volunteering as an educator at a bird of prey center, is reflected in my creations." Her educational background is in ancient history, languages, and archeology, where she draws inspiration from many cultures across centuries. According to Allison, "My ceramics training has been an on-the-job process. I have managed a studio, taught clay techniques at the college level, and shared my expertise in community facilities for over 30 years."

Allison ended up back in Arizona when her geochemist husband took a faculty position at Arizona State University. Her micro-studio, Three Star Owl, is set up in their home in south Scottsdale, where she produces clay tableware and sculpture.

She continues to teach adult clay classes for the City of Scottsdale at the Eldorado Community Center and makes clay pieces at MAC clay studio. Allison considers the ancient roots of humans working in clay as her creative foundation. She says, "People have produced clay items for over 28,000 years. Virtually every culture on earth has developed household containers, ceremonial, and decorative objects from the earth where they lived." The culmination, especially for Allison trained in archeology, is the endless inspirational examples from and in nature where Allison gathers many of her ideas. She says, "Being part of this millennia-old tradition is amazing and tremendously inspiring."

"People have produced clay items for over 28,000 years. Virtually every culture on earth has developed household containers, ceremonial, and decorative objects from the earth where they lived."

Allison’s Three Star Owl studio is open each November for the Camelback Studio Tour in early November. She is a member of the Arizona Clay Association and a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League. She participates in SAL's annual Hidden in the Hill Studio Tour the last two weekends in November. Allison's work is available at On the Edge Gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale, Arizona. Allison's clay creations are fun, whimsical, alluring, and, best of all, functional! Once one of her creations has made it into your home or office, you'll wonder how on earth you ever managed to live with the boring industrial-constructed stoneware that occupies space in your environment now. Why have an "off-the-shelf" design when one-of-a-kind pieces can be part of your interior and exterior spaces?


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