Joan Mondale | Bowl
Joan Mondale

born 1930
Resides in Tokyo, Japan

Biography Ask the Artist
Joan Mondale lives in Tokyo, where her husband, Walter Mondale, serves as American Ambassador to Japan. She has taken a leadership role in the national crafts movement since the 1970s. While her husband served as Vice President, Mrs. Mondale used their official residence as a showcase for the work of contemporary American craft artists. Every year, she mounted a major exhibition of paintings, sculpture, and crafts from all over America.

"To show off American creativity," The Washington Post chronicled on May 24th, 1992, "Mrs. Mondale bought, with the household money, a 16-place luncheon service of pottery... handblown goblets... glass dessert mats... and salt and pepper shakers." She also commissioned a rocking chair by Sam Maloof.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

Looking at good pots.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

With Warren MacKenzie, in his studio in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?


What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

Having them look the way I intended.

What's the most difficult part of creating your works?

Being disappointed when the pots come out of the kiln.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

Reduction firing. No.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

It will take you 7 years to learn how to center, so don't give up.

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

Buy a pug mill.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

A lot.

Dimitri Michaelides Edward Moulthrop