March 14, 2014
The Berkshires has an abundance of wonderful art, and local pottery is no exception. Pottery is one of the oldest art forms, and has many different means of production. I have always been intrigued by clay, and have played around making amateur bowls and vases. I also love to sculpt with clay, so I went on a mission to learn more about pottery in our area. I decided to explore the studios that produce it, as well as to admire the finished products in the local galleries. This time, due to time constraints, I stuck to the bigger studios, though I’m sure that there are plenty of smaller studios that would be just as fun to visit.
As for the larger, more established pottery studios in the Berkshires, one of the oldest and most popular, is Sheffield Pottery. Here you can shop in a historic barn, filled with ceramics that were designed by fine artists and large assortment of functional pottery for use in the home. They offer one of a kind engraved plates, which would make a fabulous gift for a wedding, anniversary or to welcome a new baby. There is pottery for the home, as well as the garden, and they also offer a selection of potter’s wheels, kilns and clay. Sheffield Pottery also holds events throughout the year, offering instructional classes as well.
In West Stockbridge, you can find Hoffman Pottery. Artist, Elaine Hoffman’s whimsical nature is evident as soon as you pull up to her studio. Brightly colored flags and other fanciful decorations welcome you as you enter. Inside there are even more wonderful colors, and her unique ceramic designs beckon you to admire them. You can find beautiful vases, teapots, utensil holders and many other distinctive designs in the gallery. Her use of color is bold on many of the pieces, while others are stark white, giving the customer plenty of choices to fit their individual tastes.
In North Adams, River Hill Pottery is busy making gorgeous pieces, with clay that is woven. The woven clay is then shaped into basket forms of all kinds. Though I wasn’t able to make it to this studio on my local pottery journey, I plan on visiting them sometime in the near future, as I would love to find a great bread basket that I can both bake in and will still be beautiful enough to use as a serving piece. There gallery is part of the Eclipse Mill, which houses area artists, along with their studios and galleries, so it is best to call ahead, before visiting, to make sure that they are open.
Further to the North, there is Bennington Potters. Visiting their Potter’s Yard is an experience in itself. People come from all over the country to tour Bennington Pottery. Known for its decorative and durable dinnerware, people often start collections of this pottery, and continue to add to it each time they return to the Potter’s Yard. Along with their exceptional pottery, they offer a wide selection of decorative items for the home, as well as local food products. Nearby, you will find a great assortment of shops and restaurants, so you can make your trip to Bennington Pottery a day full of fun if you wanted to.
Shopping for a new piece of art is always fun, but there is a special connection that you have with something that you have seen be created, or have been to the place that it was made. What better way to do that, than to explore the many pottery studios that surround us? Whether it be for someone you know or for your own indulgence, local pottery is a fabulous gift.You can visit these places online, but do yourself a favor and make the journey to one of the local pottery studios to experience the art firsthand. You’ll be glad you did.