By Dave R. Davison
A dozen years ago, Tacoma potter Susan Thompson started hosting an annual pottery sale out of her house. The idea came from a conversation with another potter who had enjoyed a successful sale at her own home. The advantage of the home-based sale is that there is no overhead cost for the venue.
“On the first day 12 years ago,” said Thompson, “we had no idea if anyone would come, but at 10 a.m. two ladies came up the sidewalk and we were thrilled.” Thompson noted that one of those ladies still faithfully attends each year’s sale.
Every year, Thompson’s friends and neighbors inquire whether the sale is scheduled again for August. It has become something of a neighborhood tradition to swing by and pick up a treasure or two.
Thompson notes why August is a good time for the sale. “The weather is dry and we can spill out onto the deck and into the backyard with our work.”
Attendance has grown year after year as Thompson invites some of the region’s finest potters to join her in showing off their wares for the public to purchase.
This year, the sale is scheduled for Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sale takes place at Thompson’s Stadium District home, located at 717 N. D St.
The potters slated to strut their stuff at this year’s version of what has become known as the D Street Pottery Sale are as follows:
Thompson is a prolific potter who has managed to build her own home-based ceramic operation complete with a gas kiln in the yard. Her regal, oval and darted vessels are often covered in a lacey texture and finished with a greenish glaze that gives them an antique feel.
Thompson seeks to make vessels that are sturdy enough to become part of the rituals of daily use, yet possess sufficient beauty and they become so full of memories that they can mature to the status of family heirlooms.
Kazumi Divens-Cogez is a Puyallup-area potter whose work has been featured at the Puyallup Art and Wine Walk. Divens-Cogez makes platters, lidded vessels and open forms that have a solid presence. They often feature hand-carved textures as well as animals and flowers. The vessels are richly colored with underglazes and glazes.
Charan Sachar has lived in India for significant portions of his life and his work is heavily influenced by Indian fabrics and embroidery. His mother ran a boutique designing clothes for brides and bridesmaids. Sachar exchanged a comfortable career in high technology for the more soulful life of a potter, with which he has found some success. His unique wares are brilliantly colored and elaborately decorated. Sachar is also an avid knitter.
Boston born Lucy Nilan was raised in a family of artists and earned a bachelor’s in fine arts with an emphasis in clay at Loyola University, Chicago. Nilan also teaches ceramics at Drum and Narrows View Intermediate School in University Place and the Open Arts Studio in Tacoma. Her porcelain vessels are decorated with line drawings of animals like mice, dogs, roosters and other woodland critters. Nilan makes cups, mugs and bowls as well as sculptures of animals.
After he retired from a full career as a fireman, Herb Halberg went on to become a brilliant potter. He is known for his elegant jugs and jars that have tiny necks and feet, but swell out to generous proportions between those two points. The round forms are finished with appealing surfaces whether it be the high-fired, speckled-brown of spodumene and shino glazes or the vivid orange-reds or the purple-blue and velvety iridescent sheens achieved in the raku kiln.
Jill Rohrbaugh is a Tacoma potter who made the leap from the rat race of commerce to the dream existence of life as a potter. Originally from Idaho, Rohrbaugh did time in the pet products industry before beginning a new career at the Clay Art Center. Rohrbaugh makes well-crafted teapots, mugs and jars that often have a beveled texture and a rustic, earthy glaze. More recently, she has turned to use rich, red clays to make small, intimate vessels that are decorated with accents of brilliant color.
This Gig Harbor potter likes to call her wares “Smart Art.” Rebecca Smart has been a prolific maker of pottery for more than two decades. Her deftly made vessels, most often thrown on the potter’s wheel, run the gamut from cylindrical vases to spheroid rattles to lidded boxes. These are often cut with a wire to give them a faceted surface. Smart can do everything from large platters to dainty sake cups. Smart’s wares are glazed in earth tones that result from a variety of techniques of the gas-fired, soda-fired or wood-fired kiln.
Another Tacoma potter, Andrew Deem is a graduate of the ceramics and glass program at the Royal College of Art in London, England. Deem creates his tableware on the potter’s wheel, making small batches at a time. He is currently exploring the qualities of porcelain in order to make “contemporary objects that are used and enjoyed within the domestic setting.”
Sarah Woodson works out of her Lincoln District studio. Her grandmother was a hand model for Jergen’s hand lotion and could never quite fathom Woodson’s insistence in pursuing pottery, an art form in which the hands are forever covered in the muddy and colorful stuff of clay. Woodson’s mugs are decorated with illustrations of houses and of Tacoma landmarks.
Susan Evans makes most of her vessels by hand using slabs of porcelain that are pieced together in a cloth-like manner. The pieces are stamped with flowery designs and brilliantly colored. The result is a line of unique cups, vases, flat dishes, bowls and teapots that are all one-of-a-kind.
Romana Vaisar makes classical mugs and tea cup and saucer sets that are hand-decorated with birds, animals and botanical specimens. Her work has been exhibited at home and garden sales around the Puget Sound region.
Irina Litvinyuk eschews the potter’s wheel in favor of perfectly symmetrical, hand-made oval vessels that are elaborately carved. Her large platters are painstakingly decorated with glaze effects.
Another alumnus of Clay Art Center, Olalla potter Quinn Bougher makes big, turban-shaped, wood-fired vessels as well as mugs, bottles, bowls and other vessels glazed in soothing greens, blues and earth tones.
Don’t miss out on the chance to view work by some of the best local potters working in our midst. There will be a great variety of work to see. You won’t want to go away empty handed. For further information visit facebook.com/events/1976724432608300.