Of the 40 some-odd potters living in McKinney and surrounding areas, Wayne Batchelder was the one I wanted to meet first. I was introduced to Wayne via Instagram when I came across a photo of oversized coffee cups accented with beautiful, natural-wood handles. I immediately followed @cwbatch and discovered he was a local potter, living in McKinney, and his work was even available for purchase at The LAST Art Gallery on the downtown square. Friends, can I tell you how fortunate we are to have a potter like Wayne living in our community?
Let me tell you why.
After teaching web design for 18 years at The Art Institute of Dallas, Wayne retired in 2014 and began making pottery, his on-again-off-again hobby since 1981 when a high school chemistry teacher peaked his curiosity about the chemical compound of glazes. This combined with intermittent classes over the years prepared Wayne for his post-retirement plan to become a potter.
“Talk to me about the wood,” I said while we chatted in SPARC Studios, the repurposed house he shares with 6 other potters in the Historic District of McKinney. “Well, I make the pottery to show off the wood,” Wayne explained. The decision to incorporate natural wood elements into his pottery came from looking at the world through the eyes of his father, “…he would pick up an unusual piece of wood or a stone, and talk about how unique the Lord had made it.” As he showed me his collection of unused wood pieces, my mind kept going back to Genesis, and I was reminded of how purposeful the Lord was when making the earth and everything on it.
For example, Wayne handed me a stick while pointing to several perfectly formed holes, one drilled through its center and 2 drilled through the sides. I assumed he had done this with a power tool, but Wayne explained these holes were made by the carpenter bees who had once called this tree their home. Wayne sees the beauty in these elements, and I believe the Lord knew Wayne would be here one day to give new life to His creations, once the bees had moved on, and the branches had died and fallen to the ground.
Using unique pieces of wood like this and combining it with clay—a malleable form that can be made into whatever the artists wants it to be—reminds me of life itself, and to recognize that the damaged parts can be healed and made beautiful again.
Probably my favorite part of the time spent with Wayne was learning that potters often drink their morning coffee out of each other’s mugs, and begin their day by offering good thoughts to that potter. What a beautiful, supportive community cultivated by these artists! I look forward to the day (hopefully soon!) when my own Wayne Batchelder mugs are ready for pickup, and I can reflect on Wayne’s lessons of nature’s beauty as I drink my morning coffee.
Thank you, Wayne, for sharing your gift and allowing us to see the soul and history of nature through your works.