Pass Christian potter creates art with an eye on nature

Pass Christian potter creates art with an eye on nature
Potter Brian Nettles at his studio in Pass Christian (Source: WLOX)

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - South Mississippi has a long history of producing well-known potters, from George Ohr to the Anderson family at Shearwater Pottery.

Pass Christian’s Brian Nettles has made a name for himself with his creations. Brian Nettles loves spending time at the potter’s wheel with water and clay at his fingertips, creating pottery. Nettles enjoys the process.

“A lot of people ask me if I get tired of making the same thing for 22 years. Everyone is different. I love the feel of clay and the craftsmanship of it. It almost becomes a meditation type thing,” Nettles said.

After working the clay into plates, pots, cups and other items, Nettles gets busy drawing or painting. He prefers images and designs that reflect his surroundings and emphasize natural beauty found around South Mississippi.

“It’s all related to nature. I live on 30 acres on the Wolf River in Pass Christian. I spend a lot of time out on the islands. It’s related to fishing, swamps and nature. I like flowers, birds and just being in the local environment,” Nettles said.

Nettles has opened a 3,600 square foot studio on his Pass Christian property, where he teaches beginners and experienced potters who want to learn new techniques. Making pottery is really about firing clay in a kiln.

“I have a gas-reduction kiln. We fire it to 2,400 degrees. It’s loaded as a bisque kiln, then we take it to 1,850 degrees,” Nettles said.

Nettles is a regular at the Peter Anderson Festival. He’s set for his 22nd annual art show at his Pass Christian Studio after Thanksgiving. Historically, people on the Gulf Coast are fond of buying fine art fashioned in clay.

“That’s one of the good things going back to George Ohr or Shearwater Pottery. People along the Coast have a long tradition of collecting pots,” Nettles said.

Nettles received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics and Sculpture from the University of Southern Mississippi and has studied wood firing on multiple trips to Japan. Nettles has taught and lectured at universities, art schools and clay centers. He has built more than 50 kilns. His work is in private collections and public museum collections in America, Japan and Europe.

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