PORT WASHINGTON -- For the first time in more than 12 years, area resident and internationally-known ceramic artist Tom Radca will have an open house at his workshop this November.
Not only will he feature his work and show his techniques for creating pieces, but his fiancé Brenda McMahon will also display her artwork as well as show off her art studio.
The two create their artwork at workshop nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County, near Port Washington. Radca and McMahon even live in the cabin where famous baseball pitcher Cy Young was born.
Radca's new workshop, built in 2006, will include many displays by both Radca and McMahon. However, the 200-year old barn, adjacent to the workshop, will also feature their artwork as well as show residents how the process of creating ceramic pieces works.
"People can walk through ... from the 200 year old barn to the one (workshop) built in 2006," Radca said about the open house which is set for Nov. 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Their creations start from raw clay which comes just 10 miles down the road at the Superior Clay Plant in Uhrichsville. At the plant, they make chimney flute tile and bricks.
But, here they make beautiful creations of anything from large pieces that stand more than four feet tall to tiles that cover backsplashes in kitchens.
Radca, who was born in Cleveland and graduated from Kansas State and Ohio State universities, creates architectural ceramics for juried art fairs both nationally and internationally. He also throws on the potter's wheel large sculpted vessels and plates.
He also uses items found around his Port Washington-area farm in his pieces. For example, he found old square barn nails which he included in a piece for extra texture and dynamics. But, he knew he could only fire his gas kiln to 1850 degrees so that the iron in the nails wouldn't melt and the nails would maintain their form.
Radca, who has been creating artwork for more than three decades, has exhibited internationally since 1994 and just recently wrapped up an international show with McMahon in Plunket, Thailand, where both artists' works were featured.
McMahon, who just recently moved to the area from Sarasota Springs (three hours north of Manhattan), N.Y., creates handmade, wheel-thrown, burnished and saggar-fired vessels and carved tiles.
"I form soft earth into subtle polished vessels and create hand-formed tiles into mystical 'fire paintings,'" McMahon said.
She uses a primitive firing technique that uses natural, organic materials that cover the surface of the piece. During the firing process, the burning materials and fuming materials in the kiln yield a combination of smoky blacks and grays with a palette of orange, salmon, pink and burgundy.
"I call the abstract landscapes and cosmic imagery 'fire painting,'" McMahon said. "My love of nature and the serendipity of fire are my muse in this exciting and unpredictable process."
She also exhibits at galleries regionally, nationally and internationally.
Together, they teach a local ceramics class called "Loose and Large and Poetic and Polish." Radca shows students the "loose and large" technique of creating artwork on the wheel whereas McMahon offers the more "poetic and polished" approach to art.
The duo attends more than 24 art shows and festivals a year. They just recently returned from an art show in Bethesda, Md.
However, this open house Nov. 7 and 8 will show off their studio and their artwork. They will have pieces of artwork in all stages of the creating process -- because it takes more than three weeks for raw clay to go to the "finished" product with glazings, firings and the drying process to all be considered.
"It's a big deal," Radca said. "It's a joint open house. We welcome the people to our open house because people love to see where artists create their works."
Their studio is located at 15216 Grove Rd., Port Washington.
They also have their own Web sites that feature their artwork at www.BrendaMcMahonCeramics.com and www.TomRadca.com. They may also be reached by calling 498-4303.