Bette Drake, born in Cleveland in 1942, is a studio potter who makes functional work well within the tradition of reduction fired stoneware established by twentieth century studio potters like Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. She works with a mix of Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri clays on a wheel and with slabs, formulates her own glazes, and fires work in the high temperature, reduction atmosphere of a gas kiln.
She learned her craft from Toshiko Takaezu, who was her teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Art, garduating in 1965 with a major in ceramics and a minor in painting. She also holds an MFA from Tulane University. From November of 1975 to January of 1976 she traveled and studied in Japan. Her philosophy of art making is informed by her materials and dedication to the craft of making work that is functional. The plasticity and versatility of clay as medium appeals to her and she likens her forms to blank canvases for decoration. Studio pottery made in this fashion is both a science and an art. The reduction firing process itself is not totally predictable and so the experience and technical skill gained over her years as a ceramicist are communicated by the achievement of her forms and glazes which read like expressionistic paintings.
Drake has been included in several CMA May shows, The Best of…Ohio Designer Craftsmen Shows, various national juried exhibitions and fairs, and is in the collection of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona California and the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus Ohio.