Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stoke Hole Pottery...

March was a pretty good month...I was in Florida for a week, had a great time at NCECA, and at its end here, I think I'm waving good bye to winter finally. So, I thought I would end this month by slamming out another big posting. This one is about my friends at Stoke Hole Pottery. I have been working out of their place since late January. I helped keep the studio warm during the weekdays and made some new sculptural pieces that I'm pretty pleased with right now. This has been a very enjoyable work place and I am stoked to feature this great working /teaching studio and gallery as well as the people who call it their home studio.

Stoke Hole Pottery was started by Birch Frew in 2002. Currently the picturesque property has a large studio space, an equally large gallery, salt/soda kiln and a Phoenix Fast Fire wood kiln...The studio gets great light due to the fact that one whole side is mostly all large windows. As you sit throwing you can look up across the field in front of the studio and at the hills in the distance. In February I watched a group of about 5-6 dear cross through the golden brown switch grass. That was a nice peaceful studio moment...ahhhhhh.
Let me introduce the crew...
Resident potter Cathy Bizousky has been with Birch from the beginning. They were then joined by the other resident potter Mr. Gary Stam. The three of them, along with the bunches of clay students that have come through in the many years, have been wood firing and soda firing their functional wares in one of several kiln incarnations since the pottery's inception. A recent addition was Debra English who became Debra Frew. Who, believe it or not gentle reader, was my first ceramic professor when I came to Pa. to attend graduate school. But the most very recent addition was Deb and Birch's sweet baby girl, Rayna.

The gallery sits just above the studio. The interior of the gallery is spacious, clean, and earthy. The back of the gallery has a handy-dandy pizza oven for those gallery events and the front sports a great deck to hang out on.

These three images are wood fired and soda fired pieces by Birch and Cathy...Cathy's pieces are the ones with flowers.

Also featured here are a set of Debra's cups with work from Gary Stam and vases and mug by Birch. You can also find Birch's work at Planet Art Gallery in the Mt. Lebanon area near Pittsburgh and the Commonplace Coffeehouse in my current hometown of Indiana, Pa. They can be found on the web at and look for them to soon open an online store with Etsy.

I have enjoyed the warm studio and good company from all at Stoke Hole in the past couple months. I highly recommend this place to any and all in the area who are looking for a nice studio space, clay lessons...from throwing to hand building...all ages and abilities welcomed, or a nice gallery spot to buy beautiful local art. I leave you now with a serene view, or as John Stewart says ...your moment of zen...go ahead, sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the screen...feel the end of the winter...oooommmm.

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