After 40 years, Mel Cornshucker is a clay expert
The local potter is one of 150 Native American artists to be featured in the Cherokee Art Market.
Mel Cornshucker works at his pottery wheel in his studio in the Tulsa Arts District.
After four decades of experience, local Cherokee potter Mel Cornshucker knows his craft. “I’ve been throwing pots since 1975,” he says. “So after 43 years, I know what I want out of the clay.”
Cornshucker is well known for his Native designs that feature animals like the buffalo, cougar, bear and the most common one: the dragonfly. He has featured dragonflies on his pottery since 1979.
However, Cornshucker’s expertise and accomplishments are in part due to chance. He initially wanted to become a lawyer, but took a different path while pursuing his bachelor’s degree. “In college, I needed to take a studio art course, so I signed up for pottery,” he says. “Then I found a job as a potter in Silver Dollar City.”
Shortly after Cornshucker married his wife, Michelle, in 1979, she also developed an interest in the craft and became a potter herself. For the past 22 years, both have created and displayed their pottery and flatware — plates, trays and tiles — from Cornshucker Pottery at Brady Artists Studio, 23 E. M.B. Brady St., in the Tulsa Arts District.
“Many people don’t understand that there’s a big difference between pottery and ceramics,” Cornshucker says. “Pottery is thrown and made by hand, and the clay I use is heated to 2,400 degrees. Ceramics are poured into a mold and heated to approximately 1,500 degrees. That makes a world of difference.”
See the artist’s work
Mel Cornshucker’s pottery has been featured in art shows, galleries and museums across the country. This month, his pieces can be seen among 150 Native American artists at the Cherokee Art Market, one of the largest Native art shows in Oklahoma. Fifty tribes will be represented.
Oct. 13-14 — Cherokee Art Market
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sequoyah Convention Center, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 777 W. Cherokee St., Catoosa. $5, adults; free, children 12 and under. cherokeeartmarket.com