Saturday, December 17, 2011

A great (though very cold) open studio day

I was telling Sue and Fred Rose today that when we did our first kiln-opening and sale eight years ago, maybe five or six people were there to see the new, warm pots come out of the kiln. Sue and Fred were two of those people, because at the time I was firing with their daughter Angela. So they were there to support her, and my wife Dee was there to support me, and two or three people might have wandered in out of the cold.
For the past two years, so many people have come for the kiln-opening part of our Open Studio weekend that we have had to hire a police officer to keep the on-street parking from disturbing the neighbors. It was like that today, with a studio crowd of maybe 30 people, jammed in by the slabroller, around the kiln door, alongside the sinks and tables and looking on from the door into the house. No shortage of willing hands to pass the new pots on to the nearby table. My pot-loving friend Janet handled the kiln-shelf-and-loose-wads detail and took the pots from me as I worked my way down through the stack. It was a very good firing, I think. It's a bit difficult to hand pots out and have them claimed immediately, be wrapped and bagged and out the door. On the other hand, the money's a good thing, too.
Lots of pots left the property today, as did quite a bit of Mike Race's locally-roasted coffee beans, earrings and necklaces and notebooks and handblown and handworked glass. This open studio weekend has become a lot more to handle than it was in the beginning, but it's also become a community event. Most of the people who come here on this weekend are from Falmouth or one of the nearby towns, though our longtime friend Ethel came over from Martha's Vineyard and new friends Linda and Peter came down from Plymouth. It's not a Cape Cod summer event, but mostly friends and neighbors and other local folk eating and drinking and buying around the holidays. Once I get over the organizational jitters (not a pleasant problem to have, actually), this gets to be fun.
Tammy Race made kale soup, Lois Hirshberg made vegetarian chili, Ed Sholkovitz made extremely good scalloped potatoes, Donna Sutherland Steele brought frosted fruit cake, Bill McCarthy and Jim Sharpe brought pizzelles, Janet brought ... what was that, Janet? Some wonderful kind of chocolate ... thing. And I made red chile for the customary chile dogs.
And we'll do it all over again - though without the crowded kiln-opening - Sunday. And snow is expected tonight. Of course.
My thanks in particular to Barry and Terri Good, our neighbors from a few houses down Boxberry Hill Road, who came with an entourage and went away with pots, but particularly helped out by photographing the kiln-opening and putting pictures on their Facebook pages. I never took a shot and am grateful to them for supplying the illustration for this post.
Come tomorrow, everyone.
And a PS: The man who gave me this idea, Washington D.C. potter and Shino master Malcolm Davis, died last week. I didn't know Malcolm well, but when we lived in northern Virginia we used to go to his D.C. townhouse for his holiday open studio. He sold his pots there, but also opened his place to other local craftspeople and artists. That was the plan we followed years ago when we decided to do exactly the same thing. Thank you for the idea, Malcolm.


Tracey Broome said...

What a fun time! I am so envious of all those people that got to be there!!! Congrats on a good crowd, and blessings to your good friends that support you with food, drink and their wallets :)
Merry Christmas to you and Dee!!!!

MH said...

Hollis, Wish we could have dropped in... Looks like a great success If you and Dee get tired of the snow and ice you're always welcome here in NC to thaw out. Mere says to just give us a day to clear out the "sweat shop". ...Bring clams we've got the grits.

Peter said...

Wonderful to see such a successful event, isn't it great that it has built up like that over the last few years for you! Congratulations, and I am so glad that you have had good sales. My mind still "boggles" a bit at the thought of having people around when I open my kiln, but I can see that there could be a great deal of good coming from allowing the public in then, not just for the sales, but also for involving people in what actually goes on with the process. Who knows, it might actually encourage more people to become potters!
Happy Christmas! P.

cookingwithgas said...

I am with Mark,in more ways than one, and wished that we could have been there. I love that picture of you unloading the kiln...tell the gang we send love and best wishes.
Snow.......noway...Hugs form NC.

imagine said...

Well done Hollis, it sounds like it was a lot of exciting fun.

Dan Finnegan said...

I remember talking to you after your first, rather sparse, open studio, Hollis. Way to stick with takes a while to grow these things. Soon they'll have to take a number and wait outside! Congratulations!

ang walford said...

looks cosy :))

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, everyone. Yes, Dan, that was a while back and it was very lightly attended. Much different now. And I think the pots look different, too.