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By Elizabeth Harry
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When you see Delores J. Hayes’s ceramic works, you will think of glossy cerulean blues that pop against rich earth tones. Her portfolio of functional ceramics is a cohesive body of work inspired by organic shapes, colors, and textures. Hayes wants to make art that “emulates nature and the spirit of life around us.” A technique she uses in some of her work creates perfect tree bark texture, and when paired with that lovely, shimmering blue, it calls to mind a clear blue sky peeking through bare birch trees on a crisp winter day. Come to the shop to see more of her work!

Follow Delores on her Instagram account to get a glimpse into her creative process: @deloresjhayes

Read more about the artist, in her own words:

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Delores J. Hayes. I am a ceramic artist based in Durham NC. I've created art and pottery in Durham since 2012. I am self-taught and have been working as a full time potter since 2013. My work has been featured at The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Claymakers Arts in Durham, Carrboro Arts Center, Burlington Arts Center, and The North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove North Carolina.

I am drawn to organic shapes, colors, and textures. Every time I sit down at the wheel and pull up to my worktable, I have an idea of what I am trying to create but I try not to force my expectations on my work. I like to balance my intentions with the intention of the clay. I keep my ideas and guidelines soft and pliable, ready to be altered. I use different techniques during greenware and glazing to provide texture and layers that create contrast and depth. I aim to create pottery that holds true to the idea that we are not perfect, and that in our textured life, however rough, course, smooth and misshapen, our beauty, and our true character is revealed and adorned.

What is your dream project?

My dream project would be to build a wood kiln. Wood kilns enable a decorative collaboration between the artist and the fire. The flame and wood ash create paintings on the surface on pots. They leave traces of their journeys like whips marks or melted ash on the pots. They also enhance glazes making them run or shine brighter.


What places are most inspiring to you?

The Eno River and the hearth by my fire place.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I'm not sure this is advice; maybe it’s more of a reality check that changed the way I became a working artist. When I was in college - just starting to focus on being an artist - I was telling everyone who would listen (and even those who wouldn't) that I was going to be an artist. I said that I WAS an artist. At the time I had a full academic course load, worked two jobs, and had a ceramic assistantship at Claymakers Arts in Durham. I was working and moving nonstop, and I barely made work.

My independent study professor asked me, "how many hours a week do you spend in the studio?" I said I was also taking one 3 hour sculpting class at Claymakers and one 3 hour wheel throwing course on campus. I was working a total of 6 hours a week in the studio. He looked me; he didn't hesitate or blink but simply replied, "You won’t make it." Now, I was hurt. I really wanted to be an artist, and to have someone tell me that I wouldn't was deflating. He explained, "There are so many talented artists fighting to do what they love for a living. They're actually putting in the time, making the sacrifices, devoting their lives to their passion. Even then, many of them will not make it."

I realized that I went around telling everyone about how being an artist was so great, but I hadn't really devoted myself to the work. Right then I made a decision to really commit. I decided to make everything I did support my one goal of being a working artist. I quit one job to make time for creating and spent every spare minute I had in the studio. I gave up Friday and Saturday nights with friends and parties, which is hard for a 22 year old. But, I wanted clay to be my life. I lived at Claymakers, as many artist and staff there can tell you. I kept telling everyone that I was an artist, but not with my words. I told everyone with my actions. People began to see my commitment, see the effort I was making and offered help, gave me scrap clay, supplies, private lessons and opportunities to connect and work with established artists.

I am now a self-sustaining artist. I work anywhere between 40 and 120 hours a week. Committing myself to my work made my dream a reality.


Professionally, what’s your goal?

At some point I would like to create an artist community. It’s amazing to share and refine ideas in casual conversation with like-minded creators.