Potters market turns heads - 12/01/04
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News from Royal Oak, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Madison Heights, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Hazel Park, Clawson

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

John F. Martin / Special to The Detroit News

Doug Spalding draws on a tile before it's glazed. His work is part of Oakland Community College's 29th annual Potters Market.

Potters market turns heads

Pair from Royal Oak 2 of 137 displaying their work at annual show

John F. Martin / Special to The Detroit News

Doug Spalding and Diane Hawkey work on perfecting the details of their pottery in their garage studio in Royal Oak.

OCC's Potters Market

What: Sale of some 40,000 pieces of functional and decorative pottery, produced by 137 guest potters and advanced pottery students from OCC's Royal Oak campus.

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Dec. 3; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 4; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 5.

Where: United Food & Commercial Workers Union Hall, 876 Horace Brown Drive, Madison Heights (one block south of 13 Mile, between I-75 and John R).

Cost: No admission charge and parking is free.

Contact: (248) 246-2686 or http://www.thepottersmarket.com/

John F. Martin / Special to The Detroit News

Cityscapes that may be illuminated from the inside are part of Doug Spalding's art.

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ROYAL OAK -- Instant gratification is the reason that Diane Hawkey and Doug Spalding dirty their hands with clay.

The husband and wife, who are Royal Oak residents, are two of 137 pottery artists who will be selling their work at Oakland Community College's 29th annual Potters Market this weekend.

"Either you love it or you hate it," Hawkey said. "For me, it's instant gratification. You've got your lump of clay and you can make something out of it. You take it wherever you want it to go."

Spalding agreed. With pottery, he said, he can sculpt, make flat tiles or draw on it. He can throw the clay on a potter's wheel or build it by hand. "It scratches every itch I've got."

Hawkey and Spalding, both 43, have been selling their pottery at the OCC pottery show since 1983. They are full-time artists whose work has been shown at Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, the Toledo Museum of Art and the Ann Arbor Art Center, they said.

Helping potters learn the skills they need to make -- and sell -- their wares was the main reason for creating the pottery show, said Charlie Blosser, head of the ceramics technology department at OCC in Royal Oak. Selling skills include pricing and display, and the potters market helps students learn both.

"The students become self-employed potters who have to market and sell their wares," Blosser said. "So, in the second year of the program, in 1975, I introduced a potter's market to discourage those who weren't ready to sell and to encourage those who were ready."

The first potters market was held with 25 students in the pottery lab on the Royal Oak campus. "It was so crowded in there that I was frightened," he said.

The market kept growing and moving to larger facilities until 1989, when it found a 12,600-square-foot home at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Hall in Madison Heights, near 13 Mile and Interstate 75.

According to OCC, it's the largest pottery sale of its kind in the country. Some 40,000 works of art will be available, including pots, vases, platters, tiles, mugs, bird baths, jewelry, ceramic-frame mirrors, sculpture, lamps and tables.

Blosser said that, along with the advanced students, guest potters from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania will participate in this year's show.

Two of those guest potters are Priscilla and Chris Eggen of Pleasant Ridge, another husband and wife team. From their studio in Ferndale, Priscilla creates functional pottery.

"I make casseroles and mugs with a flower motif, drawn and painted, often with irises and daffodils," she said. Her husband, who likes making glazed pottery, often helps her with her work. All the functional ceramic pieces are safe for food, she said, unless labeled otherwise.

At the show, Spalding's work will include cityscapes that can be illuminated from inside, raku pieces and tiles.

Hawkey will sell beaded jewelry, Christmas ornaments, ceramic baskets and sculptural pieces, including two-piece sculptures of mothers and babies. Each ceramic baby can be placed in or out of its mother's arms.

She didn't make mother-and-child sculptures until she returned to work a year after their daughter, Maura, was born.

Hawkey graduated from Dondero High School and Spalding attended Kimball High School before meeting at OCC in 1980.

"We kept popping up in the same classes," Hawkey said.

They were both studying art but unsure of what direction to pursue -- until they took ceramics. Hawkey was the first of the two to sample a pottery class at OCC.

"I said to Doug, 'You have to try it.' I knew he'd love it."

Cindy Hampel is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

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