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Texas Clay Festival Artwork

The Texas Clay Festival has been a labor of love by an ongoing group of clay artists in the central Texas area. Many have contributed to the positive outcome of the show and we are proud to have been part of that group. One area that we have been responsible for has been the yearly poster and tee shirt designs (with a few exceptions). After hitting thirty plus years it seems that it may be interesting to see them in review.


We work together on the designs and have tried to make each year’s graphics celebrate different artists and graphic design periods as they would relate in a light hearted way to a ceramics centric world.

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1993 - 1st year

Max Butler starts it off with a postcard : “Gruene Welcomes You to the Annual Texas Clay Festival”. It was Saturday only, October 23, 1993!

1994 - 2nd year

We volunteered to do the promo card for the second annual Texas Clay Festival. We had some layout experience and more importantly a Macintosh Plus and a copy machine. We had been learning how to make computer graphics and page layout (then called “desktop publishing”) and the postcard seemed like a good practical project. It was a one color print on both sides of the postcard and the very small run of  72 tee shirts. 

1995 - 3rd year

By the third year we had moved up to a color image. A budget friendly three color version of the cactus teapot image to be exact. So far just simple solid color areas with simple separations as we learned all this new stuff.

1996 - 4th year

The “Greetings from” format returns with the debut of the Gruene water tower as a teapot. It became a favorite image that we have tried to insert into yearly designs when possible. This image is a simple two color print of cyan and black.

1997 - 5th year

Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies in the 1880s are the inspiration this year. He would set up a series of cameras with strings from the shutter across a path that would trigger when subject animals or people walk or run through the track. When arranged in chronological order the sequences would show the patterns of the motion.  So this is what it would have looked like if he had chased a walking teapot through his array.

1998 - 6th year

Garden seed packet. If you look closely the peas are small teapots. The goal was to make it natural looking and not too obvious. 

In the early days of the TCF we would make press packets with what, where, and when show information and other area features. One element we would include would be some kind of clay based memento, usually a small pot or stamped circle of clay. For this year we made small seed packets and press molded small green porcelain teapot seeds. They were pretty fun to make.

1999 - 7th year

We took a few years off from doing the promotion images. Steve Dockal, a Gruene local graphic designer created year seven. This was the iconic big oak that is behind the pottery with cups and teapots as the leaves.

2000 - 8th year

Another year off for us. Pete Williams created this year’s graphic in the ancient Greek pottery style version of the show.

2001 - 9th year

We return to creating the Clay Festival illustrations with a Jose Guadalupe Possada inspired  calavera image of potters at work. 

2002 - 10th year

A simple colorful design of a teapot and cup on a graphic tablecloth. Cross color blending can be tricky, especially in tee shirts, but this one printed well.

2003 - 11th year

A variation on large harvest / sunrise or sunset image done in the style of the WPA  posters from 1936 to 1943.

2004 - 12th year

An antique postcard from a state fair or rodeo, with prize bull teapot. Yee Haw!

2005 - 13th year

Truck farming big teapot harvest time. This is a fairly complex image that printed well on paper for the postcard and poster, but it had some problems with the tee shirt. We are more cautious now and usually rework complicated paper print images into a more simple tee print friendly version.

2006 - 14th year

Brushwork teapot with chops of the cactus teapot, Gruene tower and dates of the show. 

2007 - 15th year

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica Mandelin et Guitare was the inspiration for this year.

2008 - 16th year

In the 1920s there were many artists who celebrated artisans and their productivity, Diego Rivera being one, and while not directly referenced here, in a pre-internet time he was fun to research and some library stacks are an adventure in themselves.

2009 - 17th year

Modernist Constructivism;  Potters unite! This one’s a different take on the tools and effort involved in clay work. Typography is one of our fascinations and it can take some time to find the right fit for the image. This time it was pretty easy.

2010 - 18th year

An Art Nouveau style poster from 1901 by J. Herbert MacNaire and Margaret and Francis Macdonald reworked to a pottery and kiln theme. The kimono has a pattern of cactus cups, Gruene water tower in the background. 

2011 - 19th year

Marc Chagall elements done in a cartoon style. Picasso and Chagall were contemporaries and produced ceramics at different times in their careers.

2012 - 20th year

Jim Flora was best known for his Jazz and Classical album covers in the 1940s and 1950s, but also authored and illustrated 17 children’s books and was a prolific magazine illustrator. His work was the inspiration for the 20th annual TCF design.

2013 - 21st year

Papel picado is a traditional Mexican folklore pierced paper decoration. The second annual’s cactus teapot and cups and the twentieth’s Jim Flora tea pot make a reappearance here.

2014 - 22nd year

The early science fiction pulp magazines had dramatic and lurid imagery around life in the future. This is a reworking of an Amazing Stories cover from 1928. We added pottery houses, cowboy boots and a futuristic pottery wheel to show the bright future of Texas pottery. The Gruene water tower is still around in the future too.

2015 - 23rd year

Valmore products was founded in 1926. It was known for it’s advertising and packaging featuring illustrations by Charles L. Davidson and Jay Jackson. The Rolling Stones album cover for Some Girls was designed around Valmore advertising. 

2016 - 24th year

Mimbres ceramics have a wide variety of graphic imagery; animal, human and geometric. In researching the topic, the breadth of graphics and it’s timeless nature was very inspiring. 

2017 - 25th year

The Gruene teapot water tower gets the Andy Warhol Marilyn treatment.We also did an additional tee shirt series of the Campbell’s soup can with names like “Raku” and Stoneware”.

2018 - 26th year

Godzilla vs Teapot Water Tower. The topic of what to do this year was settled as soon as Gaye Lynn said “Godzilla”. A dive into Godzilla history and imagery revealed a dizzying variety of Godzillas over time. We ultimately settled on the version from Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters (1968). We leaned pretty heavily on the movie posters and graphic novel covers.

2019 - 27th year

Felix Vallotton was an illustrator in the early 1900s. Many of his illustrations had a white on black or light and shadow areas that switched from black on white to white on black with patterns defining shapes.In this case we added a third color (red) to center attention on the teapot in front of the kiln.

2020 - 28th year

This year Covid was still too active to have an in-person festival, so like so many events that year it was virtual. We decided to go with a fairly hopeful, day after night version of the Gruene tower teapot. The tee had glow in the dark ink on the night sky elements and the tower.

2021 - 29th year

We wanted to do something colorful after several years of black and white. We were inspired by the work of Charlie Harper, an illustrator with a wide range of work published in the parks department, magazines and books. He worked with bold colors and abstracted shapes of nature. We may be the only ones to see them, but some of the ladybugs are actually tiny teapots. On the postcard they are very small.

2022 - 30th year

We looked up many old circus posters for reference with this years design. Along the way we became fascinated with some that promoted a hippo exhibit and that they sweated blood. This led to a side search for “do hippos sweat blood?” It turns out that they do “sweat” an oily substance that turns red and works like a sunblock to protect their skin. Almost as amazing is that it was only recently that this was discovered owing to the substance breaking down rather quickly when sampled and hippos being touchy dangerous animals. 


The elephant teapot is from year five Muybridge image with a platform for the tiger. It’s a tiger because 2022 was the year of the tiger, and tigers are just cool.

2023 - 31st year

In the fifties it was a common practice for magazines to print some covers with two or three colors instead of four, saving some time and money. Ceramics Monthly would use this technique and we referenced it for this design. Many of the tools are from the 2015 design, buffed up for their more central role. 

2024 - 32nd year

Psychedelic concert posters from the 1960s inspire this years design. The 2020 image teapot is getting its groove on.

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