It was our first time so we had no idea what to expect. We had to park in the AutoZone parking lot down the street. As we drove around looking for a parking spot, we realized that the line stretched out the door, around the corner and down the sidewalk past the Gallery at the Millrace. And it wasn’t one of those fast moving lines. It was one of those move up a few paces every 5 minutes kind of lines. It was also a little chilly with an icy wind that was hard to get away from. Two things kept me alive as we waited. One, the harsh winters of my upbringing in the great frozen state of Michigan made this seem like a pleasant spring day (compared to how my wife felt, she’s also not as tough as me!) The other, watching people leave the building clutching their beautiful new bowls and hoping that maybe there might be one or two left for us if we could just make it inside.
And…… my wife had the cellphone so she gave me some facebook updates and we bonded amid the adversity. She wasn’t really all that excited to go in the first place so this waiting in line business wasn’t exactly her idea of fun. But we braved the cold and the wind and the waiting for about 40 minutes and we were finally inside.
For more waiting…
The line snaked around Rachel’s Bread a few times and then went around the entire perimeter of the Farmer’s Market space. But at least we were inside where it was warm and with a new appreciation of having a hot meal in a comfortable living area. And once we made it inside the Farmer’s Market the real excitement began. The space along one corner, the end of the journey, was the chow line. A variety of soups, breads, drinks and desserts. Before that was the checkout counter where you could pay with cash, check or credit card. There was also a small area where two guild members washed the eclectic mix of germs off the bowl that you selected. And the rest of the walls were for the bowls.
Bowls as far as the eye could see.
Now this is what I came for! (And to support a good cause, I guess.) Even though hundreds had come before us, the tables were still full and they were still bringing out more. It was as if there was an unlimited supply of handmade bowls of all shapes and colors. At the very first table I spotted a lumpy, wood fired bowl that reminded me a little bit of a coconut shell that had the top part sliced off. I snatched it up and turned it over. Rothshank. It fit in my hands so nicely.
I already have a mug made by Justin but I decided to take the bowl with me and trade it if I found something I liked better. We strolled along the tables and picked up a number of bowls. I liked the glazes on a number of Bruce Bishop bowls. I spotted a few more wood fired vessels by Justin Rothshank. There were a couple nice Fred Driver bowls with a shino glaze but nothing could pry that Rothshank bowl out of my hands that I spotted first. I think it was the shell marks.
The bowl was fired on its side. From the Goertzen kiln opening I learned that potters use shells sometimes to keep the pots from sticking to the shelves or stands. When the pots are unloaded they are soaked in water and the shells come right off the pot but leave these cool marks.
My wife kept grabbing bowls with the initials JH or JMT or JMH carved in the bottom. Perhaps James Hochstetler? She finally decided on a shino bowl decorated with a dark and light streak on the inside over a bowl with some blue and green glazes.
From here I could tell you about the tasty corn chowder that my wife picked or the fantastic chicken and rice soup that I ate. Or I could give you the details about the cranberry bread or cookies. But I was way more excited about my new bowl.
I’m no expert but if this bowl was woodfired as I assume, I think the yellowish drips might be ash that collected on top Â and dripped down the sides.
Next time I hope to add a Driver or Kauffman piece to my collection.
But now I guess since I have a mug AND a bowl I can call myself a Rothshank collector! I just need a piece with a decal.
So it was a pretty cool event. I could have spent another hour just looking at the bowls. And I wish I could have brought a couple bowls of soup home with me. But I’ll just show up next year. Thanks to the potters in the Clay Artist’s Guild for putting on such a great event and the other 668 people that supported it. See you next year!