The Pottery Biz and Local Economy

I’ve just finished a one week intensive pottery workshop here in the lovely hills and valley of western Massachusetts.  It is my second workshop for the year.  Students have come from as far away as France, Canada, and Texas, New York, Boston, and Vermont.  Someone recently asked me where the students are staying.  I said, “Bed and Breakfast’s,”  He said, “Boy, Lucy you are really a part of the local Arts and Economy.”  I smiled proudly and said yeah I guess I am. 

Between my workshops, weekly classes, open studio sales, and the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail.  I’m happy to know that what I do as potter/teacher contributes to the local economy.

Some pics below from our two field trips during the workshop.  A View from the French King Bridge,  the Green River and Barton’s Cove.



Thoughts and Photo’s from the July One Week Workshop

It was hot… 100 degree hot… stinking hot, by 3:00 the first day we were barely all standing. Tuesday morning I put an air conditioner in my studio!  There was no other way to get through the days without an air conditioner.

What a full intensive week.  My studio can only handle four students comfortably, and my philosophy about teaching throwing is that it’s best not to have any more than five students at a time.  For this workshop I had three students, who had my full attention for five days.

The idea of a week-long workshop came about because a woman from France emailed me after watching my videos on you tube.  Sara asked if I would give a week-long intensive, at that same time a man from Texas and a woman from Canada also inquired about week-long workshops… hmm I thought, must be something to this!  I said why not.  I put it up on my website and before you knew it I was teaching two, week long workshops. (one coming up in October)

The students learned a lot in a week, and I learned to have someone else make the lunches next time, and not teach my regular night classes during that week… Wonder woman does not suit me! 

These students are from France, Long Island, N.Y. and Eastern Masachusetts!

July Workshop, Joanne, Sara, Lucy, Wendy

The Green River and the Green Clay

I am in the middle of teaching a week-long workshop at my studio.  We are also in the middle of a heat wave here in New England.  Today was a real scorcher at 100 degrees, so at the end of our day we walked down to the river behind my studio to a favorite swimming hole.  The Green River is rightfully named that because of the green clay found throughout the river.  The water is such a gorgeous color green because of the light green color of the clay.  My students gave themselves facials with the bentonite-like clay, and floated happily in the mineral soft water.  They want to go back tomorrow at the end of our day, hopefully I’ll remember to bring a camera.

Summer Classes Posted

It’s a few short weeks before my summer classes begin.  Check my brand new website for the details!

Throwing Lids of the Hump, Part 1

One of the harder things for students to learn is throwing a lid off the hump.  For you non potter’s out there, this means, throwing a small lid, cup, or bowl off a larger piece of clay.  This works very well because you can thrown many repetitive pieces without having to wedge each piece individually.  Below I am teaching, “Big Girl Pottery Class” how to throw a lid with a flange.


The below photo I am using back of my fingernail to create a straight line to place the wire tool.  The cut comes out even if you keep your eye on one side of the line.

Big Girl Pottery and the Five Handled Mug

Big Girl Pottery class (AKA advanced wheel throwing) learned all about mug handles last night.  Their assignment was to make practice mugs and put a bunch of handles on them until they get it right!  Handles are one of those things that pottery students just don’t want to spend much time on.  They will spend hours and hours perfecting forms on the wheel, but then it comes to making and attaching handles they give it an hour, and say ok what’s next!  

The pics below show the five different types of handles on one mug.  The one or two finger handle, and the three or four finger.  The fatty handle, the skinny, and the dog bone.  Each student checked out the comfort levels of each one.  We all agree it’s a personal thing; it really depends on the size of your hand.  When I first made mugs they were always on the smaller side, with a one or two finger handle, because that’s what I prefer. Customers were always asking for bigger mugs so I started making them, and happy I did.  It opened up a whole new mug form to me, and I began to like four finger mugs!

My cupboard is filled with many mugs from other potters (you can see a Molly Cantor chicken mug, on front table,  and a Lindsay Rodgers mug on the back table).

This one is my favorite, with a fatty handle that I made… it usually holds Earl Grey tea on the mornings I don’t have Chai in a Mark Shapiro four finger mug!


A Few Pots from my Advanced Class

On Thursday nights my teaching methods change a bit.  Instead of focusing on the basics of wheel throwing with beginner students, I focus more on how to help a student execute their ideas.  First off , they are all required to have a sketchbook… to draw their ideas, or to write their ideas.  To write what glazes they used, immediately, so as not to forget when that pot comes out of the kiln, and it’s gorgeous, and you want to be able to duplicate it!  We talk about form and function.  How do you make a spout fit the form of the teapot, look good, and actually work!  I get questions that I love to answer, like, ” how do I make this bowl look softer”.  We get into complexities of glazing… talking about whether or not that particular glaze is distracting from the form or enhancing the form.   And then there is the ever challenging technical aspect of throwing, that all advanced students want to accomplish… making a 12″ cylinder with 4 lbs of clay. 

Gayle's Bowl


Two Mugs by Gayle

Soy Ewer by Dawn F.

Pitcher by Dawn F.