In this lifetime, Mary Flodin began to study the potter's craft as a child, at the studio of Dora de Larios, in Los Angeles, California. She pursued her study and practice at Mills College, under the great Prieto, and at U.C. Irvine under architectural sculptor John Mason. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, from 1976 to 1978, Mary underwent a rigorous apprentice-style Bachelor of Arts program in California Craftsman-style Ceramic Art, under master potter/painter, Al Johnsen, graduating with Honors in the Major. At this time, she made pilgrimages to the studios of legends-in-their-own-time master potters Bernard Leach in Cornwall, England, and Bauhaus potter Marguerite Wildenhain, on the Russian River in Guerneville, California. She also studied at U.S.C. ISOMATA, Idyllwild School of the Arts with Susan Peterson, biographer of the great Pueblo Indian Potter, Maria of San Ildefonso, and with Acoma master potter, Lucy Lewis.
In 1979, Mary journeyed to the isle of Crete, where she apprenticed to a traditional potter. Her photo essay documenting this potter's work was the featured cover story in the October, 1980, issue of Ceramics Monthly Magazine. In the summer of 1999, Mary apprenticed in the traditional pottery village of Mashiko, Japan, home of the great Shoji Hamada, Living National Treasure. She documented her experience living and working in a 500 year old Edo farmhouse with a group of Shinto priests, in the potter's compound of Sensei Furuki, in an article published in the February, 2000 issue of Ceramics Monthly Magazine.
In 1978, Mary opened shop as an independent studio potter, at Bluebird Creek Pottery in Santa Cruz, California. Her porcelain, carved celedon, and stoneware work has been sold by Gumps of San Francisco, and by fine arts galleries in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Murphys, California. Her work resides in private collections in the United States, Japan, and Europe.
Mary has been teaching the potter's craft since 1976. She was the managing instructor of the Merrill College Pottery Co-op, University of California at Santa Cruz, from 1976 to 1985. From 1980 to 1985, Mary was a Spectra Artist-in-the-Schools, working for the Santa Cruz Cultural Council. In the summer of 1988, Mary served as Potter in Residence at Holden Village, a Lutheran spiritual community on Lake Chellan in Washington State.
Mary has participated in a number of community arts projects, including the Lifeyard Peace Sculpture Project on the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz in the 1980's. In 1982, Mary was invited to take part in a Kirlian photography project, pictorially documenting the energy fields of potters working with clay. The project, by artist/medical scientist Minna Hertel, resulted in a stunning and astounding show in Capitola, California, revealing the hidden auras of humans and the materials they contact, and in an essay by Mary, published in the February, 1983 issue of Ceramics Monthly Magazine. This introduction to Kirlian photography led Mary to begin her exploration into the physics and metaphysics of biotic energy fields.
At this time, Bluebird Creek Pottery produces a full line of functional porcelain kitchenware, vases, and lamps, as well as stoneware and earthenware fountains, flower pots, and small votive sculptures for the garden. In addition, Mary creates ritual and ceremonial pieces for life events such as weddings and births. The potter views her work with clay as a spiritual and healing act of communion and joy - liberating, soothing, balancing, elevating and purifying body, mind, and creative spirit.