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
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