Dan and Laurel Pfeiffer form the core of Pfeiffer Fire Arts and Fiber, Inc., a small pottery in Oak Grove, Alabama. You won't find Oak Grove on a map any more. We are about five miles south of the Alabama - Tennessee state line and a few miles west of exit 361 off Interstate 65 in Northern Alabama. We are located north of Athens, Madison, and Huntsville, Alabama; south of Nashville, and Ardmore, Tennessee, East of Florence and Elkmont, Alabama; and west of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
All of our pottery is hand made and composed of either stoneware or porcelain. We have developed our own set of glazes, and will continue to experiment and add new glazes. While glaze development is a time consuming task we learn a great deal from it and feel it gives our pottery a distinctive look. It also gives us great flexibility in creating just the glaze we like.
What about the "Fiber" part of the name? Well, we also produce home-spun wool (Lincoln) yarn and weavings made from that yarn. That has been an on-going interest of Dan's for years and years. If someone should have an interest we could do private lessons on spinning or weaving. Both are great fun but much like pottery are complex and quite time consuming. The home-spun wool is used to make rugs but Dan's first love in weaving was in overshot and he may at some point go back to doing more of it.
You may ask, what does the fiber have in common with pottery? Well everything of course! Both are a handcraft that are at the same time easy to look at and "appear" easy to do, but then you can go on and spend a lifetime learning the details of each craft. Both have a great "feel" to the material being fashioned. You need to develop a touch to be any good at either and both have a very good sense of accomplishment when you get all the details right. There is no right way to do either but lots of wrong ones. Both require a lot of research and testing of techniques. Both have near endless possibilities so you are never at a lost of new things to learn. Both allow you to start doing something that looks ok after a short bit of training and then go on to better work with greater understanding and control as you progress. Of the two we would say that pottery is the more complex and has a greater range of ways to express yourself but we could be wrong! Dan has only been weaving for 30 years and there is much more he could learn and maybe at some point he may have to rethink this.
One of the reasons people will always be attracted to handcrafts is that we live in a very fast paced world that we have very little control over and often no real understanding of how it works. Working with both your mind and hands to create work that lasts, in the case of pottery that can be thousands of years, can give you a connection to the real world that video games and computers never can. You have a direct connection from your thoughts (what to make) and the making -- moving from the world of words to real things you can use every day.
There are not many jobs today where one person works on a product from start to finish. Both pottery and weaving are a process that has a lot of steps and skills to master but they both have a rhythm to the work that has been lost in most jobs today. The tools we use are easy to understand, often handmade themselves, and are an extension of your hand. Pottery is a very physical process that is both hard work at times and at other times much like playing a musical instrument, a light flowing touch and a pot flows up out of the lump of clay. Fire transforms mud into stone and glass forms that will last much longer that we will.
Our other handcraft is bread making and we have an 8" granite grist mill that we use to grind wheat and rye and we make a very respectable low carbohydrate bread from this. Hopefully soon we would build a wood fire oven to go with it but only after we get a new kiln built! One thing we have leaned is there is no end of building projects in a pottery.
Our studio is open by appointment and when we are in the studio. As we are busy about many things it is best to call and be sure we will be here when you are! We always like to visit with other potters and hear what they are working on as well as those interested in pottery or learning more about pottery. We have a small gallery to display and sell our work as part of the studio. We are also always closed on Sunday.
WEB PAGE UPDATED: January 20, 2010
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