Last Saturday was the first annual Michiana Pottery Tour so my day was filled with as many pots, potters, refreshments, and socializing as I could handle. I left my house around 10:15am and didn’t return home until about 4:30. It was a beautiful fall day and there seemed to be a nice turnout for all the stops that I made it to.
My first stop was in Constantine, MI at the fabulous residence of Mark Goertzen. He and Dick Lehman, Todd Pletcher, and Tom and Jeff Unzicker had lots of pots on display.
Most were set up along a path through the woods or on some shelves near the house. I could have spent half the day looking at each pot, holding it, studying the surface, feeling the texture… and wishing my pots were half this outstanding!
They also unloaded the wood kiln throughout the day. That was really interesting because they talked about the process and pots as they were taking them out of the kiln. A lot of good information and a lot of nice pots!
Dick told me a little bit about how he got some interesting textures on some of his pots. He found some local foliage and pressed them into clay which he bisque fired to make a solid stamp. Then he threw a cup taller than the final form he was aiming for and scraped off all the slurry. He then pressed the pot from the inside into the stamp on the outside. Finally, he finished throwing the pot by pressing from the inside to smooth it and give it its final form.
After leaving Constantine, I drove south down to the home and studio of Justin Rothshank. He also has a nice residence with a studio under the garage, plenty of trees and a wood kiln.
He also uses a lot of ceramic decals. He had a mug with the Lorax which stuck out in my mind and a series of work featuring presidents. Keith Hershberger from Pittsburgh was also displaying work at this stop and I got to talk to him for a few minutes.
I ended up buying a mug from Justin. It was on the seconds shelf but the reason it was there is what made me like it. I believe the mug is made of earthenware and glaze fired on stilts. As it was fired the glaze dripped down just enough to give the mug some little “feet” which it now rests on. Perhaps less functional, but infinitely more cool.
After leaving the Rothshank residence I made my way into Goshen. My first stop was at Marvin Bartel‘s place. I picture this guy as the founding father of the Goshen area clay community. He was a professor at Goshen College for a number of years and said that he had over half the people on the Tour as students at some time. Pretty impressive.
Not only is he a great teacher and great potter, I think he is also half engineer. He had a functional chair, a toilet, tiles, and bases for glass tables all made from clay. He also has a pretty neat studio. He let me take a peek at his kiln and answered a few questions.
After leaving Marvin’s place I drove downtown and walked over to the Goshen Clay Artist’s Guild. There was a good variety of work on display. I recognized Cindy Cooper, Fred Driver and Eric Kauffman in attendance but there was work from many more potters. Cindy was doing a wheel throwing demonstration. Eric and Fred got to talk in front of a professional looking camera about the tour and the clay community around Goshen.
Eric helped me find all my work that had been fired from the summer class. I packed it up and talked to Eric about some of his crystalline pieces. He had a really nice metallic green pot and a couple really large pieces. After trying to see every piece in the guild I walked downtown.
I went into the Found gallery. The miniature pots by Jane Graber were cool but it was a “small” display so it was nice to look around the rest of the gallery as well.
Then I walked down the street to Eric Strader‘s studio behind the Maple City Market. He had a smaller volume of pottery on display than some of the other stops but it included some really nice functional ware. I talked to him for a few minutes. He was actually part of the guild when the guild met in his current space but then bought their kiln and stayed in the space to work on his own. He also said he’ll be moving his studio, including his kiln, to a new location in the near future.
I picked up a couple post cards there but unfortunately I didn’t take any photos at the last two stops.
After leaving Eric’s studio I headed for home full of inspiration, ideas, and a camera full of photos. To see the rest Â of the photos you can check out Art by Fuzzy on Facebook!