As a full-time potter for almost 20 years, Randy O’Brien began working with clay while he was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. He moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1984 to study with ceramic artist and educator Al Johnsen. Randy’s love for the wilderness and adventure led him to move to Alaska in the late 1980s. He established a pottery studio in Homer creating and selling functional, stoneware pottery with glazes inspired by the glacial fields and mountains of Kachemak bay. Always an experimenter, he returned to art school in the mid-’90s and then going on to earn a BFA at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. While a student at Alfred, he focused on the development of special effect, low fire glazes. He began developing his current body of work in the year 2000. Inspired by the mineral formations, mudflats, and lichens of southern Arizona he developed a three-dimensional glaze surface that mimics the aesthetic of a naturally occurring material. His glaze surface is composed mostly of volcanic ash and metallic oxides.
All of his pieces are created with a passion and love of clay: “I find a lot of pleasure exploring the infinite possibilities in ceramics. My glazes are a three-dimensional surface. They add as much form to a piece as does the clay. I take my inspiration from the natural world. Lichens, mosses and mineral formations influence my decisions.”