A potter since the 70’s, Delaware artist Peter Saenger’s work is out of this world [video + pictures]

Newark artist Peter Saenger entered the ceramics department while in college and he never really left.

Peter started in the era of the hanging planter, it was the hot item back then. He made the pots and his wife would do the macramé hangers. They also made tableware, kitchenware and other household items.

Like most potters Peter began on the wheel, throwing pots. But it was casting that would become Peter’s calling. “I was sharing studio space with a fellow who was casting and I became intrigued with the process,” Saenger said.

This new process required Peter to learn new skills, like mold making. According to Saenger you only have so much time to work on an item on the wheel, “If you over work it, the clay will plop and slop.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Putting his time into the making of the molds allowed Saenger to concentrate on his designs. He sculpts the original mold, which he calls the model. The work that comes out of these molds is truly unique. “You can make shapes that you can’t make any other way,” Saenger said.

Items like the fit together pot and cup set, the sugar and creamer that nestle and the vase pair that embrace, Saenger couldn’t do them as a potter, but as a sculptor? He can. “I’m a sculptor first, a mold maker next, and then I’m a potter,” Saenger said.

Saenger’s work is out of this world, literally and figuratively. One of his pieces was featured in “Star Trek – The Next Generation.” The ‘Design II’ or ‘Captain Picard’s Tea Set’ was seen in several episodes – pictures are in the slide show below.

One of Saenger’s friends runs a gallery and was a huge fan of the show. She sent the set to the show as a gift, and it popped up in the episodes, Saenger was never actually credited in any way, though.

He is still boldly taking his work to new places. Working with the mold pieces apart he builds the clay surfaces into the mold and then assembles them. Once they setup he takes the piece out and can work on it further. “It’s a variation on the theme and it’s yielding more one of a kind pieces,” Saenger explained.

This process allows for the forms to be controlled, but the clay surfaces are unique and different every time. “I’ve gone from wheel throwing, to casting, to production casting and design, to these one of art objects over the years,” he said.

Saenger is finding satisfaction out of concentrating on working on what he is curious and passionate to make. But he is still trying to push the possibilities of what the plaster and clay will do for him. He is mostly self-taught, but he his happy with how it’s all turned out. “It’s my trip, it’s my journey,” he said.

“That’s really the best part, that’s why I like to come to work. If it’s work anymore, but that’s really what floats my boat”.

You can get more information on Peter Saenger and his work when you visit him on the web.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal