Galena Clay Works
Henderson’s functional and sculptural artwork
Kent Henderson spins a bowl in his studio.
Top: Clay sheets documenting past Twenty Dirty Hands tours. Bottom: Henderson’s studio.

found was a welcoming community of artists and potters. This friendship has resulted in an event known as Twenty Dirty Hands.

In his gallery, you will find both functional and nonfunctional, or sculptural, items. The shelves are filled with whimsical sculptural art along with everyday pieces like bowls, mugs, plates and even soap dispensers.

His pieces are made of a Wisconsin clay, known as Paloly, and his glazes are handmade from earth’s raw materials.

Henderson enjoys making pottery because he knows that someone will use it, either for its functionality or its aesthetics. He enjoys making functional pieces because he finds the process to be similar to meditation. Knowing that the user will eat or drink from the piece he is creating enhances the process.

Creating sculptural art is a very different experience for Henderson as he explains it as improvisation. “My hands molding the clay is a moment. Through the firing, the moment becomes solidified to remember and behold, or thrown to the ground to be shattered into shards,” he said.

As a humanities and anthropology major, Henderson thinks of his pieces as art, but also as artifacts. “Galena Clay Works is creating artifacts for the future, some to be buried and hopefully uncovered by future generations.” he explained.

Along with creating art, Henderson shares

his talents with the community. He gives tours of his studio and teaches about various sculpting and firing techniques to local students.

Twenty Dirty Hands

Founded by a group of local potters, Twenty Dirty Hands is a fall weekend event that takes visitors on a tour through the Jo Daviess countryside to over 10 potters’ studios and galleries. Scheduled for Oct 16, 17 and 18, many of these studios are open for this weekend only, and offer special art exhibits and a unique view of their kilns, forges and work spaces.

These artists reside in Dubuque, Elizabeth and Galena, and have been friends for many years. They are bound together by a love of small towns, art and pottery. They have shared meals, music, studio spaces, kiln building projects and a way of life. This bond has been the support for this event that has become an annual tradition celebrated for over 12 years.

Henderson is one of the potters who participates in this weekend tour, and has his studio and gallery open, offering special art exhibits and a view of his kiln and workspace, for visitors.