A Tale of Two Potters

A husband-and-wife duo produces two different styles of ceramic art



A vase by Maureen Mills

Courtesy photo

Several years ago, potter Maureen Mills started teaching ceramics at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. Her work has since taken a different path.

Previously, she and her husband, Steven Zoldak, worked for about 25 years at Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum, demonstrating slip-trail art. In this medium, intricate Old World designs are flowed onto ceramic surfaces with a squirt bottle filled with slip, a thin slurry of clay and oxides. The lines do not flatten during firing and remain raised, allowing a precision that has afforded the couple’s work a signature look, as demonstrated in their vast line of stoneware plates, mugs and other vessels. Mills claims the designs are her husband’s Hungarian heritage pouring out of him, saying, “He can’t help it.”

Zoldak continues his work at their Portsmouth home studio, while Mills has ventured into wood firing at the NHIA studio in Sharon. Both the process and time constraints have changed her work. She now does more hand building and experiments with surface design, scribing the clay with calligraphy and stamping patterns. Using earthenware, which fires at lower temperatures, she is also able to play with brighter colors — colors that can be unpredictable in a wood-fired kiln. She now allows the fire and ash to control the final result.

“It is what it is,” she says. “Each piece has its own personality.” Although there is more serendipity in her pieces these days, you can still see the Zoldak influence.

Both Mills and Zoldak continue to exhibit at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in Sunapee each August, showing their united but diverging styles of work. This year, Mills’ work will also appear in a collection of wood-fired work on display at NHIA’s Sharon Arts Center Campus Gallery from August 17 to September 18.

More NH artisans you might be interested in

Puzzle Master

David Beffa-Negrini's handcrafted puzzles are challenging and charming works of art.

The Devotional Hymns to Darwin that Inspired Dan Brown

If you are one of the millions expecting to buy Dan Brown’s new book “Origin” for a Christmas (or Solstice) present this year, why not listen in on the music that inspired it?

Christmas Shopping in Concord

Find something for everyone in our state's capital any time, but the annual Midnight Merriment on Dec. 1 is a great time to start working on your list.

Artist Jim Lambert Defies Description

Whimsical. Charming. Folksy. Eclectic. None of these words sum up Jim Lambert’s work, but all are accurate. This New Hampshire artist doesn’t fit neatly into a category — perhaps that’s exactly why he’s so beloved.

Local Jewelry You’ll Treasure

Fine items from New Hampshire jewelry designers.

Monique Sakellarios' Romantic Scenery

The painter specializes in local landscapes.

Arts Alert: News from the NH Visual Art World

An event, a book release, and a new gallery to check out this fall

O.H. Harris' Curved Creations

A local cabinetmaker imbues creativity into his straight-edged designs.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. 2017 It List
    Our 2017 It List is the who’s who of New Hampshire. If you wanted to throw the ultimate New...
  2. Bidding Carol Shea-Porter Farewell
    Carol Shea-Porter was ahead of her time.
  3. Community Christmas Events and Experiences
    We may not wassail with bowls of punch anymore, but the tradition of celebrating Christmas as a...
  4. Local Food and Drink Gift Ideas
    Give a gift that definitely won't be returned. Our Food Editor recommends everything from spices...
  5. Artist Jim Lambert Defies Description
    Whimsical. Charming. Folksy. Eclectic. None of these words sum up Jim Lambert’s work, but all...
  6. Popping with the sounds of holiday cheer
    There's no need to travel outside New Hampshire for first-rate holiday pops symphony and choral...
  7. 4 Fantastic Trails for Cross-Country Skiing
    Try these trails to make the most out of your winter cross-country ski season.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags