Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Potters Studio Tour Is an Open Door to a Timeless Art Form

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Potters Studio Tour Is an Open Door to a Timeless Art Form

Article excerpt

A unique tour is taking place this weekend in Indiana County.

The annual Potters Studio Tour event is a self-guided tour that allows visitors a rare glimpse into the studios of 10 of Western Pennsylvania's finest artists.

"I think that you don't see very many people working at making things to make a living these days. This tour offers visitors a chance to get into the environment and work space of artists." said Rita Nichols of Windblown Studio in Rochester Mills.

Ms. Nichols and her husband Fred Wilbur (also a potter) moved to Indiana County eight years ago. She has found a synergy among the artisans who live in the area.

"I had a pottery studio in New Hampshire and taught there as well. I owned property in Indiana County so we decided to move here. This is a very different environment. In New Hampshire, it wasn't as cohesive as it is here. It was much more spread out and a lot of the potters were coming out of the New Hampshire Institute of Art," Ms. Nichols said.

Windblown Studios offers pottery classes, events, memberships and occasional workshops. The stunning studio is 1,600 square feet of work space with two-story-high ceilings. It has six potters wheels, an electric kiln, a gas kiln and a raku kiln that Ms. Nichols uses to create a specialized horsehair raku pottery. The glazing technique involves laying horsehair on the pottery's hot surface straight from the kiln. The hair creates a searing effect from the carbon markings that can look like a fine veining similar to that seen in marble.

Ms. Nichols said the yearly tour is an opportunity to meet people who get a different perspective on an artist's life. "They get to see what it is like, working, designing and maintaining the studios. Last year, we had more than 200 people come through on the tour."

Betty Hedman is the owner of Smicksburg Pottery. …

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