Both the potter and the clay were part of a reception Thursday as local Master Potter James Sanders hosted an exhibit featuring his work at the Visual Arts Center in Marshall.

“The reception went fine, a lot of our friends came by,” Sanders said. The exhibit, which contains 80 pieces, is titled “Sanders’ Pottery through the Years.”

The professional potter, who calls Marshall home, makes wheel-thrown stoneware items such as vases, bottles, pierced shapes, lamps, dinnerware, bowls, candleholders and more.

The artist got his start from being a school teacher in the art department, a profession that requires that you know a lot about each form of art.

“You have to be prepared for anything if you’re going to teach school,” he said. Sanders said he enjoyed working with the Texas Commission on the Arts and had previously taught fifth-graders at both Longview and Pine Tree ISDs.

“It’s wonderful working with clay,” he said.

When putting on an exhibit, such as the one at the Visual Arts Center, Sanders said he hopes people are interested in the pottery, which is for sale during the show. Sanders’ designs include intricately-carved patterns with neutral, but bold color patterns. Most of the carvings are nature-based, as Sanders is often inspired by what he sees outdoors, including leaves, trees, birds and flowers.

The potter attributes his success and artistic abilities to those which he has had the opportunity to study with: Professor Robert Youngman from Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana and Professor Marvin Reichle at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He also studied under well-known master potters in the United States such as Charles Counts and Marguerite Wildenhain.

In Marshall, Sanders got his beginning in 1973 working with Marshall Pottery — and then he and his wife Kay operated Sanders’ Pottery Studio in 1974.

Since then, he has hosted many shows, does demonstrations, workshops and lectures for colleges and universities, and hosts twice-a-year clay workshops for LeTourneau University in Longview. He has also completed workshops for students at East Texas Baptist University.

“Putting clay on the wheel and working on a piece ...no two pieces are ever the same,” Sanders said about his craft. “It’s a challenge every time.”

The exhibit is open until Dec. 18 at the Marshall Visual Arts Center, 208 E. Burleson St.