Husband And Wife Artists Love A Challenge



Alan Snyder, a.k.a. Mister Mud, promised his girlfriend of three days that he would teach her how to make beautiful works of art in clay, after she married him.

"I had to make some quick decisions after meeting Carole, so I got on my knees and proposed," Alan said.

Carole accepted.

"It was one of those soul meetings," she said. "We have been married 35 years."

The couple met when Alan flew from Florida to California to visit his folks over Christmas break. He returned alone to Florida and his teaching job, after his surprising vacation and Carole joined him three months later.

Teaching art classes was not Alan's intent, when as he worked towards his B.A. years before he met Carole.

"I was a physics major and I took art courses for easy elective A's," he said. "I made the mistake of taking a ceramics class and it was like I had been doped or something," he said.


Alan Snyder placed ceramic "crop circles" decoratively on the side of this tall vase.

So, Alan switched to a double major in art and education.

True to his word, Alan taught Carole the art of turning "mud" on the wheel into unique dishes to serve meals on, pots and decorative wall art.

"She was the best student I ever had," he said.

Carole was painter in watercolors, oils and acrylics before she met Alan. She took to pottery instantly and was soon teaching beside her new husband in a private school in Miami, Fla.

Seven years into the marriage, "Mister Mud" did not fit as a business name, so the Snyders offered to give one of their pots away to any friend who could come up with a new name that was not "cutesy."

"They all failed miserably," Al said.

Since Carole and Alan felt they were two potters with no fear of trying new things, they chose "Potters Vision."

For 16 years, the couple taught school and created pottery that they placed in shows and had in galleries.

Tired of city life, in 1978, the Snyders decided to take a chance on themselves and their art.


Carole Snyder combines stained glass, copper splashes and pottery to create unique bowls. How she fuses the three elements together is a trade secret, but Alan's knowledge of physics came in handy.

They moved to Colorado where Alan was raised. Their home in the valley of Grand Lake sat at an elevation of 8,500 feet. And, since it did not come with a garage, friends helped them build an addition that was part studio, part garage, and part gallery. It ended up being bigger than the house.

An ice bucket that graces their table reminds the couple of Colorado -- the "sgraffito" image of the lake and a deer Carole carved into clay.

Carole took to sgraffito, as she took to pottery. Colored clay is smoothed over the top of the natural clay and then she uses surgeon's scalpels and dentist's tools to expose the natural clay or sometimes blend it. Both she and Alan do "incising" on clay -- carving on top, while the clay is "leather hard."

Bowls and dinnerware are two of her specialties.

Goblets the couple have made seem to sell right off their dining table. Now Alan is combining glass tops with his special texture on clay bases.

Custom sinks are another of Alan's specialties.

All their pieces are low-fired, glazed, then high-fired in a kiln.


Bold colors and copper wire make this seemingly broken clay disk whole. It is one of the many pieces on display at Artist of the Rim Gallery.

Their techniques are ever evolving.

"We never get bored, because we don't do the same old, same old," Carole said.

"We always challenge ourselves," Alan added.

The Snyders are artists of the month with Jim Garrity for the month of July at Artists of the Rim Gallery in Payson.


Names: Carole and Alan Snyder

Medium: pottery

Advice to beginning artists: Create what you want to create to start with and love what you do, Carole said.

Award most proud: First Place at 2000 Payson Art League Show, partly because the judge bought the piece. -- Carole

Motto: Elegance is the concept we hold sacred. -- Alan

Why the Rim Country? It is warmer than Colorado.

Upcoming project: We have not touched clay in the five months over our move from Pine to Payson and we need to get back to it! (But we finally have a pottery shelf in our new home.)

Alan's faves:

Food: A dry martini

Author: Ayn Rand

Carole's faves:

Food: Chocolate

Author: John Grisham and James Patterson

Their faves:

Movies: Science fiction, action movies and chick flicks.

Music: Mellow jazz and some new age.

Points of contact: Web site:, their studio (928) 476-3686 and Artists of the Rim Gallery, 408 W. Main St., Payson, (928) 472-1159.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.