MANCHESTER, NH – Thursday night’s launch party for the 5th Annual Cup Show & Sale at Studio 550 was a celebration of the art and craft of pottery. The collection of cups, curated from potters around the country by Maine potter Martha Grover of Martha H Grover Ceramics, includes an array of beautiful submissions that double as works of art.
It’s not too late to see for yourself! Plan to stop by anytime between now and Jan. 6 – all cups are for sale and would make an impressive Christmas gift for that special someone.
You can stroll through Studio 550 and drink in each design in the intimate gallery at 550 Elm St., and feel just like you’re in the mug wing of a fine museum, as the designs, all functional, also range wildly between the whimsical and the sublime.
We’ve highlighted many of them in the gallery above, but there’s much more to see in the studio – for example, during the celebration, a group of potters-in-training were hard at work on their own creations, wrapping up week nine of the current 10-week Wheel Throwing/Pottery session.
Lisa Beaulieu has thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as the class was a gift of time and space to herself.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to have any creative outlet. I’ve seen the studio here for months and months, and I’ve been wanting to take a class. Finally, the opportunity was there,” says Beaulieu, engrossed in the fine-tuning of some custom mugs. “I love it. I come in early each week, and I’ve already signed up for the next class.”
When she’s not being a potter, she’s a nurse practitioner. The class is a retreat from the everyday pressures of her life.
“It feels good to not think about anything while I’m here,” she says.
Nearby, a group of friends from Litchfield are hard at work on a variety of projects – Brenda Labrie is adding imprinted designs to some plates, and Patti Ordway has a set of napkin rings almost ready for the kiln. Becky Moore is also working on mugs.
“There are actually seven of us who come together from Litchfield, but three of us aren’t here tonight,” says Jean Queenan, who is carving up a flat of clay with her tools.
Instructor Kaitlin Eramo says most of the students in her class are beginners, but because everyone works at their own pace, it’s also ideal for more experienced potters, like Danielle Grogan of Epsom, who has been a regular at Studio 550. She’s refining the bases on a set of bowls, leaning in on one centered on the potters wheel between globs of clay for stability.
She’s worked at other studios, but makes the 30-minute trip to Manchester because she enjoys the vibe.
Beginners learn all the fundamentals of pottery throwing, including centering, trimming, decoration techniques, which intermediate students can up their pottery game with some one-on-one instruction, says Eramo.
“It’s the tactile experience of working with clay – a lot of people find it enjoyable and relaxing,” says Eramo. “And the making of functional things, like cups and bowls, goes back to the beginning of mankind. We talk a lot about how we’re going to use the pots we make, like do they have a purpose, where will they be in your house, or will they be a gift. A lot goes into it, and I find that very intriguing.”
Click here to find out more about Studio 550 or to sign up for a class. There will be an abbreviated five-week pottery session, which begins Nov. 27.