Monday, May 17, 2010

Many potters, great food in Vermont







We were away from Cape Cod for less than two days over the weekend, but driving up into the mountains of Vermont feels like going to another country. Winding little state highways, green mountains (oh, so that's why they're called the Green Mountains), red barns, newly plowed fields in the river valley bottoms, sheep, cows, horses ... it's not Cape Cod.
We were at Bob and Christine Compton's pottery and home in Bristol for the annual Potters Potluck dinner and general discussion of all things clay. Over Saturday evening, about 50 people showed up, most carrying a dish of some kind and a bottle or six-pack. Potters came from all over the state and even from Quebec in southern Canada. Nice folks.
Bob has at least three working kilns on the property, a gas-fired car kiln in his studio, a giant two-chamber noborigama outside under the big shed roof and a catenary arch salt kiln on the hillside. All get regular use. And there are raku and pit-fire kilns, as well.
He fires the big noborigama only twice a year, not a big surprise since each chamber has about 250 c.f. of packing space. (I think I'm remembering that right.) Big firebox on the noborigama (fueled by slab wood from nearby mills) and a brick chimney about 20 feet tall. He removes two panels of roofing from the shed when he does his 24-hour-plus firings, to keep smoke from gathering around the firing crew. The spring firing of that kiln is coming up some time in the next few weeks. Lots and lots of bisque pots are stored in the studio, ready for glazing and stacking. (And lots of finished inventory is in their sales shop on the ground level of their home.)
Christine is a weaver, turning out beautiful work that's on their website, and she spins yarn from local fleece. (Which includes the fleece from their two sheep.) And she's a great hostess and saleswoman of their work.
If you find yourself heading up toward northern Vermont, you should stop in. Talented and friendly people.


9 comments:

doug Fitch said...

Wow, that's an amazing kiln - very neat and tidy too.

Hollis Engley said...

Yes, Doug. Bob is a tidy guy. He does an amazing job keeping everything in order. Much better at it than I am.

Dan Finnegan said...

I love round chimneys...and neatly tended kilns. Thanks for the peek.

Anna said...

What a place. And of course I love seeing Christine spinning away....

Charles The Potter said...

I am jealous on several levels, have an astounding case of kiln envy, and after seeing that stack of bisc, feel like a slacker.

Hollis Engley said...

I thought you'd like that, Anna. As to your comments, Charles ... you're not the only one.

ang said...

wow now that's my kinda place, lots of kiln choice, i have my eye on the cantenary arch...thanks for the peak Hollis looks like you had a great wkd..

Ron said...

Great to see all those photos. I somehow found Robert early on in my pottery life and visited his website often to be amazed at his work and work environment. Didn't he even make some hanging ceramic aquariums at one time?

Hollis Engley said...

He did indeed. In fact, there was one hanging in the shop outside our bedroom that night. Complete with goldfish. I don't know that he makes them any more, but there are still a few around. And yes, Ang, he's got a choice of kilns, doesn't he?