Showing February 3 - March 5, 2017

Customer Appreciation: Welcome to Our World

Ceramic Guild artists offer gratitude in the form of artistry to patrons in February as they reach out, sharing artistic expertise.


A raffle winner will take home a one-of-a-kind sapphire vase made in the ancient tradition of Raku firing. This expresses a sincere thank you to buyers who keep us creative by giving us an audience for which to stretch our artistic vision. Raffle tickets come with Scope Gallery purchases and are given to Art League Patron's show ticket holders.


Scope Gallery patrons support local art entrepreneurs by appreciating ceramic art gifts, souvenirs, dishware and decorative art. Our artists are eager share expertise on the medium of clay. Learn about classic glazes and firing techniques. Potters can kill time talking of kilns, wax on about wax resist and plot about pottery until they are blue in the vase. Come question a geek if this is all greek to you.


Valentine's day brings out thoughtful gestures that are ideally expressed in creative clay. Hanging heart pockets are a heartfelt hello while flowered servers offer cheerful encouragement. Delicate trinket boxes imply intimacy and candleholders offer warm greetings.


Attached images: To be raffled off to Gallery patrons is a sapphire raku vase by Klaudia Levin of Silver Spring, Md.; Red hot vessels taken out of the raku kiln ignite sawdust and other fuels and are enclosed for reduction.; Scope Gallery and Ceramic Guild artist Klaudia Levin of Silver Spring, Md. firing raku vessels.; Crimson textured heart pocket by Linda Bernard of Laurel, Md.; Thoughtfully embellished ceramic cupcake cream and sugar set by Hiromi Minemura of Rockville, Md.  Additional images available upon request.

Under the Scope


A special feature in many of Scope’s exhibits is the unique “horsehair” pottery created by Mia van Zeist.  Actual hair from the tail or mane of a horse is used to create the patterns on the surface of these vessels.


Although Mia is skilled in many types of firing methods, she specializes in horsehair firing.   She became interested in this technique after attending workshops on raku, smoke firing, and the application of horse hair to her pottery.  Simple and elegant forms, smooth polished vessels, and unpredictable and interesting surfaces created by the horse hair became the focus of her work.


To obtain the very smooth and polished surface, Mia burnishes each piece.   When her vessels are dry, they are coated with a very fine clay slip called terra sigillata.  Two or three coats are applied to each vessel.  When the terra sigillata is dry, Mia patiently polishes or burnishes each vessel by hand until it is completely smooth and shines!  If you rub too hard, the pot breaks!  If you don’t rub hard enough, there is no shine.


Mia then fires the polished vessels in an electric kiln to 1830F.  In a second firing, the vessels are heated to about 1050F and then removed from the very hot kiln.  Strands of horse hair are quickly applied to the hot clay surface of each pot.  The horse hair strands leave a carbon trail and smoke shadows giving each pot a unique design.  If the horse hair is not applied within 45 seconds of being taken out of the kiln, the horse hair will not leave the carbon pattern!   Mia has experimented with other types of hair, including dog hair, finding that short dog hair leaves smaller star-shaped designs.  After the hair is applied to the hot vessels, they are allowed to cool slowly.  Because the clay is not fired to a very high temperature, these vessels do not hold liquid.


The exact origin of horsehair pottery is not known but the technique is believed to have been discovered centuries ago by the Native American Navajos.   Legend is that a Pueblo woman potter discovered it when her long hair accidentally blew on a pot and made an impression on the hot surface of the clay.  Liking the result, she experimented with other materials such as straw, pine needles, feathers and horse hair.   The horsehair pottery technique still is widely used by the Navajos who commemorate the importance of horses to their life and culture through this pottery.


Born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Mia first studied pottery in Rotterdam and at the Hazelshorst School in Delft.  She continued her studies after moving to the U.S. taking classes in ceramic design at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  She moved to Alexandria, VA in 1984 and became a juried member of Scope in 2003.


Scope Gallery

Torpedo Factory Art Center

105 N. Union St.

Ground Floor, Studio 19

Alexandria, Va 22314.

Phone: 703-548-6288


10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily

Thursday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.


Check the Torpedo Factory website for early closings for private events at

Scope Gallery is a cooperative gallery shared by two of the oldest ceramic organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. The Kiln Club and the Ceramic Guild alternate months in this shared space. See calendar page for 2016 gallery schedule.