Fired Up

Jordan Butzine Pottery

Inspired by a teacher, a Knoxville potter creates wood-fired work

It was Love that brought Jordan Butzine to pottery. Wendie Love, that is. In fact, Butzine credits the Farragut High School art teacher with keeping him in school.

“I had dropped out of high school and showed up in the art room to pick up my art. She told me that some of my work was on exhibit at the Knoxville Museum of Art. And then she practically dragged me to the guidance counselor and got me enrolled in classes again. She’s the reason I have a high school diploma and went back to college later. I’ve gotten opportunities because of the art history knowledge she taught me. And she was great at problem solving. She taught me the art of working at art.”

After high school, life got busy and Butzine drifted away from pottery. He was in college at the start of the pandemic and for months was isolated from classmates. “I was going crazy. Then I saw Wendie Love was teaching a class at Mighty Mud. I took it and I’ve been hooked ever since.” Mighty Mud is the artist-operated ceramics studio in Happy Holler from which he now works.

Jordan Butzine Pottery

Butzine mainly uses wood to fire his pottery, a technique borrowed from the Japanese that requires stoking the kiln for an average of about 30 hours. As the wood burns, ash settles on the pottery and turns it to glass. “It creates variations on the surface,” he says. “Different curves will get different patterns of ash and flame.” Sappy wood, like pine, tends to create the most interesting finished pieces.

When he’s not creating cups and bowls as well as commissioned pieces like light fixtures and fountains, Butzine works at McQueen Pottery in Maryville, the ceramics studio that makes dinnerware for Blackberry Farm.

“I guess I just like playing in the mud,” he says. You can find his work on Etsy and Instagram, @butzineceramics.  

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