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Madison Heights, Royal Oak

Regional artists prepare to flock to Potters Market

A dozen Royal Oak residents to display, sell artwork

November 27, 2012

» click to enlarge «
A ceramic Noah’s Ark is one of thousands of unique items that will be on display Nov. 30-Dec. 2 during the annual Potters Market in Madison Heights. The ark was created by Royal Oak resident Julie Herridge, who will be selling pairs of ceramic animals similar to those on the ark.

MADISON HEIGHTS — Nearly 140 skilled artist entrepreneurs will bring some 40,000 pieces of handcrafted pottery to this year’s Potters Market, now in its 37th year.

A holiday tradition in metro Detroit and the largest all-clay pottery sale in the U.S., the event will feature talent from all over the state. The artists run the event as a collective, handling everything from constantly restocking the shelves during the show, to checking customers out lickety-split at one of the 14 cashiers.

“It has a life of its own,” said Linda Ashley, event spokesperson. “I’m always inspired by the creative energy, the sense of color and artistry. You’ll go down one row, come back later and see something new.”

The Potters Market will be held at the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union Hall, 876 Horace Brown Dr., one block south of 13 Mile, between I-75 and John R.

The show runs from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 1 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 2. Admission and parking during the three-day weekend is free.

There is also a preview sale from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29. Admission to the sneak peak is $10. You don’t need to go early to get the best selection, since items are restocked throughout, but the crowds will be lighter at the preview.

And it can get crowded, so no strollers are allowed. Each year, more than 9,000 customers pack the venue, also known as Madison Place.

There will be stoneware, earthenware, porcelain, raku and smoke-fired pottery, in all shapes and sizes. Among the items are bowls, mugs, pitchers, planters, platters, pots, pins, vases, mirrors, tables, lamps, birdbaths, necklaces, ornaments, statues, tiles and more, in many an eye-catching, color-coalescing glaze.

Some are functional; others are flashy or fun. All are unique. 

Prices in the popular bargain area range from $5-$30. Even more pieces are in the backroom. Attendees can ask staff to check if a particular item is available in a different color or size.  

The potters all had to prove themselves in order to be in the sale by meeting high standards of quality and producing enough to keep the shelves stocked. Many of the artists are returning favorites, back with new wares.

“The goal for them is to constantly be changing their work so that there is something new,” Ashley said. “It’s their aesthetic and their talent that people have learned to love, but there’s always something new they’re bringing to the market.”

Royal Oak resident Julie Herridge is one such returning artist, who has had her ceramic creations featured for nearly a decade. Originally getting into ceramics through an Oakland Community College class with Charlie Blosser in 1977, Herridge went on to become an attorney before getting back into the craft as a part-time hobby on the side in 1998.

“About 1998, I started doing sculpting and pottery,” Herridge said. “There was a dog I had made way back in 1977 and I needed to glaze it, so I decided to go back to his class.”

The Potters Market, which was once run by Oakland Community College, continues to feature many pottery students from OCC’s Royal Oak and Orchard Ridge campuses.

“It’s different from other pottery or art shows you might go to because everyone’s stuff is all mixed up,” Herridge said. “Everybody that comes through can just look at the piece of art, instead of going to a certain person’s booth. It gives everyone a fair chance. It’s just a wonderful event and showcases all the student work.”

Herridge will be selling several ceramic animals of various sizes and detail, but one piece that will also be on display is a Noah’s Ark creation that took her three months to complete.

“I made the vessels first and then I started figuring out where the animals go,” Herridge said, noting there are 15-20 pairs of animals on the boat. “I try to make the animals happy and in love. Deep down inside is Noah and his wife, Naamah.”

Other Royal Oak artists scheduled to attend include Jan Bostwick, Vanessa Lipson, Marcia Hovland, Caroline Berard, Gretchen Kramp, Paddy Skwira, Chris Emmick, Joanne Ewers, Dale Fournier, Clare Greenwood and Norway native Tove Bruning.

“It’s a wonderful group of people and group of artists,” Herridge said. “It’s a great show and you should come if you can make it. There’s something there for everybody.”

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