Anyone familiar with the pottery scene in Northern Colorado, knows the name, Judson. The pottery’s founder, Carl Judson, currently lives on Phantom Canyon Ranch, just north of Livermore where he works with his wife, Sarah Center Judson and his son, Arthur Judson. Although Carl began teaching himself the potter’s trade in 1959, he likes to begin his story in 1965 with the purchase of the old “Cherry Mill” on Gregory Road. The pottery began to specialize in utilizing local clays and glaze materials dug right out of the ground and in designs inspired by Early American earthenware and stoneware. The pottery continues to build upon these same traditions at the family ranch.
Judson credits his early education to the patience and generosity of the premier potters of the day, Jim McKinnell and Betty Woodman, and also to the encouragement of Clara Hatton, who was head of the Art Department at Colorado A&M. Another influential educator was a ceramic engineer at Denver Brick and Pipe, Harold Emrich, where Judson describes himself as an “instant pest”.
When Carl’s father died in 1977, the Judsons moved to Livermore and began constructing a new pottery. At the time, they were also farming 220 acres in Wellington and commuting to the Cherry Mill. In 1979, the demands of Phantom Canyon Ranch put the pottery on hold until 1982 when they hired Tim Barry, student of the Kansas City Art Institute to develop tile production. Arthur Judson also joined the family business, taking pottery classes from 1988 to 1992 and spending two years building a wood fired kiln. Two years later, Carl and Arthur set up the pottery as it exists today and built a wood/oil fired kiln for high temperature glaze ware.
Partnership with others has always been important to the Judson pottery, including a relationship with potters in Wayculi, Bolivia, whose families had been making pottery since the Spanish conquest. Through the years, the Judsons have hired and encouraged numerous other potters to assist with the production. In 2000, Carl and Arthur built the “Groundhog” salt kiln with the help of David Gillespie, Laura Peel and Emma Gross. Carl also married accomplished potter, Sarah Center.
Arthur and his wife, Brandy Hodgson collaborate in throwing and decorating pieces as well as in firing the wood kilns. The also co-own their own business, Chinook Pottery, http://chinookpottery.com/. The couple has three children, Soleil, River, and Jasper.
A 50 year reunion in 2015 invited 35 former employees from the 60’s through the 80’s and 90’s. The event included a kiln opening, as do all events at the Judsons. They have two open studio shows per year, one in the spring and one in December but visitors are encouraged at any time. An honor system style gallery is open to the public where visitors can peruse the gallery, chose what they want and pay with cash, check or credit card. Directions to the Judson’s ranch are as follows:
Follow Hwy 287 north from Fort Collins for about 20 miles to just past The Forks landmark on Red Feather Lakes Road. Turn left on CR 76H and proceed for 3/4 of a mile. Turn left at the driveway with the Phantom Canyon Ranch sign and follow the driveway to the buildings. The showroom is in the old white bunkhouse by the driveway.