Santa hat

Handmade pottery from Prairie Fire Pottery, Beach, North Dakota
Meet the Potter:
Tama Smith

North Dakota badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora


Tama Smith is a self-described “fire potter”. For her the real excitement doesn’t begin until she ignites the four huge gas burners then steps back to watch her brick kiln roar back to life.

The firing process can take 16 to 18 hours. Temperatures inside the kiln will exceed 2300 degrees, producing an awesome and penetrating yellow-white heat. At that temperature the glazes become molten and start to flow and intermingle across the surface of the pots.

 "A watched cone never drops." Inside the kiln are three cone packs that melt at various known temperatures. When a cone melts, or drops, it reveals the interior temperature of the kiln. But some things you just can't hurry.

During this process Tama is aided by the cosmic powers of the kiln gods. One of these whimsical clay effigies is created for each firing and sits at a place of honor directly atop the roaring kiln.


 “I approach my work as much from the perspective of a painter as that of a potter”, Tama explains. “To me clay is like canvas. I use my glazes like paint.”

Tama is a graduate of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where in 1988 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

In 1989, following some graduate work at Michigan State University, Tama moved to Detroit, Michigan where she built a studio and kiln and went into business as Tama Pottery.

Six years later she and her husband, Jerry – along with Jomby, the Great Dane and three studio cats – moved their operation back to North Dakota where they established Prairie Fire Pottery in the small town of Beach.



info@prairiefirepottery.comToll Free: 1-800-229-9496
Handmade pottery by Prairie Fire Pottery copyright 2009