My work in ceramics is a collaboration between my ideas, the materials I work with and the wood burning kiln I fire in.
The finish pieces are a product of these 3 essential elements coming together.
I dig my clay from the ground and process it by hand. Searching for wild clay takes me on adventures all over North Carolina and throughout the whole world. I love the process and it makes me excited about what I’m making and ties me closely to the land and the people who live here.
I fire my big wood kiln with waste wood and the help of my fantastic crew.
The process takes over a week to complete.
The surface effects on the pieces are created largely inside the kiln, through the interaction between clay, wood ash and vapors.
I choose to work this way because it is the only way for me to make work that feels like I want it to feel. No part of the process is less essential that another.
Everything matters.
My next show will be the fall @16.hands tour in my home town of Floyd, Virginia. Come check it out and follow along with 16 Hands on instagram!
#joshcopus #16handsfloydva #pottery #studiotour #arttour

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Working in my jail today!
Just finished up cutting these 2 holes. They will become doors for 2 of the bathrooms in the upstairs accommodation.
Follow along with the @oldmarshalljail if your interested in our project and what I spend nearly half my time doing these days.
Also we are close to getting a real timeline for completion.
We have 1900 square feet of artist studios or commercial space on the street level in the old Sheriffs department.
Cheaper by far than anything you will find Asheville. Great location in the heart of downtown Marshall.
Let me know if you wanna be a part of something special. Hit me up for details.
#oldmarshalljailproject #oldmarshalljail #apotterslife

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Building new clay drying racks with assistant @t.glosby this morning to expand our clay making capabilities.
One of the things I offer to the assistants is access to all the wild materials that I have in stock. And access to all the processing facilities.
The clay isn’t free though… they have to work for it.
The process their own clay on their own time.
It’s actually helpful to establish a sense of ownership and responsibility to the material.
It’s pretty much an unlimited resource but when you have to work for it, there is an valuable sense of preciousness that gets attached to it.
These new racks will assure that the assistants can process clay to their hearts content.
With @jcm.ceramics
#potteryassistant #potteryapprenticeship #wildclay #localclay #localmaterials

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I’m doing some posts for @16.hands this week and though I would share this one with my feed as well.
It’s my pottery origin story for those that don’t know it.
I started making facepots for my friends dad when I was 16.

Hey y’all, I’m @joshcopuspottery
Although I’m the only member of 16 Hands who doesn’t live in Floyd (more on that later this week), I grew up in Floyd and retain very strong roots in my hometown.
I thought I’d start by offering some context.
When I was 16 years old I started doing pottery with Tom Phelps. I was tight friends with his son Seth and was spending a lot of time at the Phelps house… so Tom put me to work making face jugs.
Tom would throw the pots and us kids would sculpt the faces on them. The weirder we made them the more folks liked them. It was the funnest job I could imagine ever having.
Tom would take our facepots to his shows and pay us half the money when they sold.
I still remember the feeling when I got paid for my first batch of pots…it felt like I discovered the meaning of life!!! I remember thinking that making the pots was so fun I would have done it for free.
I worked at the Phelps pottery all through high school with a great group of friends.
It was a special time, although when your a kid and your living it… it just feels normal.
Looking back on it, I recognize how fortunate I was.
I’ve been working in ceramics ever since I started with Tom all those years ago.
He showed me my life’s work when I was 16 and I’ve been following that path ever since.
It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone.
Tom was a mentor to so many young kids in the Floyd community. For that and much more, I am forever grateful.
So that’s my Floyd pottery origin story.
It’s a big part of why I love Floyd so much and why I love being a part of 16 Hands. It gives me an opportunity to share my current body of work with some of the folks who knew me when it all started.
#joshcopuspottery #16handsfloydva

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One of the big projects Jessie and I have been working on is catching the main spring on the land and building a tank system to hold the water and deliver it to all the supply pipes.
In truth this has been a long process that started before Jessie showed up, but we’ve really made it a priority with all the current infrastructure projects going on at the land.
I plumbed the love to this hydrant 2 years ago when I ran all my main supply lines… awaiting this day.
We just hooked the supply lines to the water tanks… and it all totally works.
700 gallons of gravity feed spring water delivered right to your fingertips!!!!
Thanks to my awesome assistant @jcm.ceramics for all your help with this project!
#countryskills #springwater #apotterslife

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The class I’m teaching at Taller de Terreno is called Making in Place. It’s about responding to the special landscape of Baja and the amazing built environment that Christa and Kevin have created.
We will dig Mexican wild clay and use the beach as one of our studios.
Check out tallerdeterreno.org to register
Or follow along with @tallerdeterreno or @christaassad
#tallerdeterreno #makinginplace #placemaking #pottery #ceramics

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Does this look like a place where you want to hang out?
The good news is that you can!!!!
I’m teaching at Taller de Terreno in Baja this coming January 6th-15th.
Registration is open now on the tallerdeterreno.org site.
Come spend 10 days digging wild Mexican clay, learning about ceramics, having bonfires on the beach AND RELAXING IN THIS SWIMMING POOL!!!!
#tallerdeterreno #destinationeducation #baja #travel #ceramics #potteryworkshop #pottery

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