Under the Scope

Jennifer Coffin

A career artist with a degree in art from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, Jennie pursued advanced studies in ceramics at the Chrysler Museum School of Art in Norfolk.   Here she learned to make her own clay and to fire pottery using a broad range of firing techniques including reduction, adding salt to kilns during the firing process to create random patterns on the vessels, and raku.  After mastering clay body calculation, glaze formulation, and wheel throwing completing the advanced courses in pottery, Jennie was offered a job at the Chrysler School teaching introductory classes in wheel throwing, hand building, and sculpture to blind students.  And this was the beginning of Jennie's career as a potter and her love of teaching.


Jennie was born in Minnesota.  Her mother was an accomplished painter working primarily with oils.  As a child Jennie was surrounded by art and, coming from a Norwegian background, much of the art reflected a traditional form of decorative folkart originating in Norway called "rosemaling" which utilizes simple strokes in creating floral designs.  Since college, Jennie has studied Chinese, Japanese, and Korean pottery as well as Japanese Sumi paintings.  As she later experimented with brushwork on her pottery, Jennie combined the rosemaling technique with the Sumi strokes which she finds more organic.  The design on her vase reflects these influences.


Decorating her vessels is of paramount importance to Jennie.   She loves using brushes and applying slips and washes to the surface of her pots.  She mixes her own slips using a combination of ball clay and malachite to create a white slip.   The thickness of the slip is varied to achieve different effects.   The floral design on her vase is created using this slip.  Jennie also mixes her own washes.  The black/brown is a mix of iron oxide, copper, cobalt and manganese with water added to make a wash.   Her goal is not only to decorate the pot, but to make the surface textural bringing out the softness of clay.  The rectangular tray illustrates Jennie's use of her slip and black wash with a white glaze.


To achieve her brush strokes, she uses a variety of brushes some made from hairs from sheep, fox, horse, deer tail, bear, rabbit and even rat whiskers!  Each brush has its own use.   Jennie makes some of her brushes using various whisk brooms.


Jennie has shared her skills in pottery and brushwork with many students at Pine Ridge Pottery, Reston Art Center, and most recently Bowman House in Vienna, Va.  She currently lives with her family in Fairfax where she has a home studio enjoying a quiet place to plan, draw, paint and work on new forms for her vessels.  Her work ranges from dishware to lamps and small sculptural forms. (photo bird)


Jennie was juried into the Scope Gallery in 2001.   She also exhibits and sells her work throughout the Virginia, DC metropolitan area.  In September 2019 she continued the family artist tradition with her daughter, Rebecca, a water color artist, at a solo show at Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, MD.  In the solo show, "Line of Sight," Jennie will focus on proximity of earth, plants, and water and their textures.


To see more of Jennie's work, visit her website www.jennifercoffin.com and on Instagram at ‘jqcoffin’ or better yet, come to Scope Gallery at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, open daily.

Scope Gallery

Torpedo Factory Art Center

105 N. Union St.

Ground Floor, Studio 19

Alexandria, Va 22314

Phone: 703-548-6288

Winter 2022 Hours:

11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Thursday - Sunday


Check the Torpedo Factory website for any changes to the building open hours. www.torpedofactory.org/todays-hours/

Scope Gallery is a cooperative gallery shared by two of the oldest ceramic organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. The Kiln Club and the Ceramic Guild alternate months in this shared space. See calendar page for 2020 gallery schedule.