Locally Handcrafted Ceramics Abound at Potters' Guild Spring Sale
Many of the bowls, mugs, and platters that I treasure most have come from the Greater Lansing Potters’ Guild’s annual Spring Shown and Sale. I go every year, and have not only topped up my own collection, but purchased one-of-a-kind wedding gifts, birthday gifts, and presents for friends and family setting up new homes.
You can start or add to your own collection of handmade ceramics made by area potters at this year’s Spring Show and Sale taking place at All Saints Episcopal Church this Thursday (May 2) from 5:30-9:30 p.m., Friday (May 3) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday (May 4) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This year marks the 50th year for the Guild, which has operated as a non-profit, member-run, educational cooperative since 1969.
According to Guild member and Publicity Chair Tina Oxer, most of the artists participating in the sale are “skilled amateurs,” although some are “very much considered artists.”
The cooperative has its studio in Haslett, but Guild members come from a variety of places including several from East Lansing. (You can see profiles of Guild members here.)
The Guild is also an active part of the greater Lansing community, including through a recent “Mug Hunt” that invited people to find mugs “hidden” at businesses including East Lansing’s Kelly’s Pet Boutique, Campbell’s Market Basket and Blue Owl Coffee and to post their finds on the Guild’s Facebook page.
The Spring Sale is one of two sales the Guild puts on each year, with another scheduled regularly for mid-November. Thirty members of the Guild will be represented in this week’s sale. As part of a cooperative, each member is required to have (at least) 50 items in each sale.
"At each of our sales we display about four thousand pieces,” says Guild member Bill Guerin, “and each is very unique.”
I asked Oxer if the “show” part of the event’s title meant that there were items on display that were not available for purchase, and she explained that “everything at the Sale is on sale. There are people who come to ‘view’ the show and the new pottery our members (and students) are making. This always includes the East Lansing High School students who are enrolled in Ceramics classes, who always come to our Sale on Friday. It is fun to see their reactions and comments.”
For both shoppers and viewers, there will be “a wide variety” of ceramics,” on display, according to Oxer. Styles will include “wheel-thrown and hand-built pieces in stoneware and porcelain . . . created with a number of different firing techniques including raku, soda firing, low fire salt firing, and high-firing.”
Available items will include bowls, casseroles, teapots, planters, and lamps as well as jewelry, sculptural, and decorative pieces.
How do people choose from the overwhelming assortment of ceramics?
“We often hear them say ‘this piece speaks to me,’" says Oxer, “our customers like the uniqueness of the pieces they choose. We often see them carry individual pieces around lovingly and are excited when they approach the cashier and we, too, express our love for their "’treasure.’”
This is a sentiment echoed by Guild member Lyn Sawicki: "We believe, and so do our customers that our pottery has heart and soul. Each piece reflects the personality of our potters."
All Saints Episcopal Church is located at 800 Abbot Road.
All photos courtesy of the Greater Lansing Potters' Guild.
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