Although Rusty was self taught in the art skills that she dabbled in throughout the years, she felt formal training might be helpful and started attending Southwestern Community College for graphic design, then Western Carolina University for photography, and every workshop dealing with art that she could find. She says that, to her surprise, her art didn’t improve, but her confidence did.
With the thought of preserving some of today for the next generation,she has traveled to five states to gather items to incorporate into her pottery - mostly leaves and organic items. She says, "I think of it as art first, function second." All Rusty's pieces have food grade glaze, are dishwasher safe, with the exception of Raku or Horse Hair items which are clearly marked. She uses her “leafware” on a daily basis.
The making of “leafware” is a slow, planned out process. Drying the item can take from 6 to 14 days. The piece is fired first time “bisque” to almost 1900 degrees at a slow rate (almost 24 hours). Then the glaze is applied and a second firing in the kiln (almost 36 hours). Many clay bodies are used to create different “looks” with the glazing, some pieces are stoneware, porcelain, or a medium fire buff clay body.