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Salem potters will feature works in show this weekend

SALEM – Three potters from Salem will showcase their work in the 12th Annual Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show this weekend.

The show will open Friday night, Oct. 14, at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.

Salem potter Linda Duncan takes a newly fired pot out of her raku kiln. Photo by Jen Giannini
Salem potter Linda Duncan takes a newly fired pot out of her raku kiln. Photo by Jen Giannini

Salem residents Linda Duncan, Lucy Farrell and Beth Stec will have pieces for sale in the show advertised as the largest all-pottery show in the state. The show and sale opens Friday with a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Admission is free. On Saturday and Sunday there will be a Kids Korner with hands-on activities for the children.

On Oct. 6, Duncan was preparing some pieces for the show, along with taking advantage of the warm weather and doing a bit of raku firing with her friend and fellow Potter’s Guild member Dave Ovenshire. Raku firing is one of the five main types of firing used for pottery.

Farrell tends more towards functional pottery, mugs, casserole dishes, and plates that are food and water safe.

Watching raku firing is a thrilling experience, almost on par with actually participating in it. After spending two hours in the raku kiln, the pieces are taken out and placed in a paper-lined trash can. The paper catches on fire from the heat of the pot. The lid is replaced on the can then covered with a cloth to snuff the flames. The smoke is sucked into the porous pot and causes any places that aren’t glazed to take on a beautiful black color from the smoke.

Duncan also has an electric kiln, which she uses to make functional pottery – or pottery that can hold water. While she enjoys making usable pieces, she loves the creativity of raku-ing, she said. These pieces are only decorative, since they aren’t fired to the point where they can hold water.

She said the process is more fun. “This is so freeing to me.”

“If something special is coming up in the family, I like to give them a bowl as something personal.” Her house is full of her pottery, both functional and decorative.

Duncan started out with oil painting and sculpture. She got into potting 18 years ago, she said, and has been in all but two of the Potters Guild shows. She recalled being in the Guild when it was just 15 or 20 people. Now membership is up to 100 potters. About the show, Linda says

“It’s exciting to have people come back every year.”

She praised her family for their help. “My family has been so supportive. My husband, Russell, is always willing to take a different route to reach a potter to visit and just keeps expanding my studio space for me. Our son Pat keeps everything working for me, doing emergency kiln repairs and building a spray booth for me.

“Mike and his wife Laura and grandsons Zach and Noah live nearby and are always encouraging and helpful. Our youngest son, David lives in Brooklyn with his wife Anne Paige. He is an artist and has exhibited his paintings in New York, Virginia and elsewhere and it’s always neat to get his ideas and suggestions when they visit.”

In addition to pottery, Farrell’s hobbies include gardening, and oil and watercolor painting. She started potting in 1990 and has shown her pieces in eight of the 12 years the show has been held.

Farrell said throwing is her favorite part, the creating portion where she shapes the pieces from lumps of mud into recognizable, usable, and beautiful pieces.

“Clay is, I think, the most versatile medium there is,” she says. “If you think it, you can do it.”

Farrell and her husband, Bruce, have three grown children: sons William and Michael and daughter Brooke.

– Jen Giannini, Intern

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