Shawn Ireland is a potter and painter living in Bakersville, North Carolina near Penland School of Crafts. Since 1991 he has made pots with food, flowers and candles in mind. “I choose to make pots with a foundation in folk tradition. For me, this involves using a variety of hand processed local clays and glaze materials, single firing in a wood burning kiln, and using a kick wheel. These ingredients promote surprises and keep my craft connected to the natural world.” 

While being influenced by pottery making traditions adopted from his teachers, Will Ruggles and Douglass Rankin, Shawn’s wood fired pots continue to change. He makes useful, rustic pots for the home, but several trips to Italy have inspired a sculptural direction in the form of zoomorphic candlesticks, vases and bowls he calls Animalware

“My pots are eclectic. I work quickly and playfully with the clay while respecting the nature of my materials and tools. Whether potting or painting, I love to be lost in the moments of making – in the search.” 

Since 1997, Shawn has exhibited his clay work in many galleries and juried shows including the Smithsonian Craft Show and Philadelphia Museum Show. His pots have made there way into homes all over the world. He has been a Resident Artist at Penland School of Crafts, the University of Georgia Study Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy and at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, Venice, Italy. 

Shawn and his wife, Jo, are enamored with world travel. “My work changes after every trip. New art, gardens and good food always inspire me.”