GREENVILLE — Four friends with ties to Bear’s Mill and a mutual love of pottery have come together to form the Millrace Potters Collective, and they will be featured artists at the mill beginning this month.
The Millrace pottery will be featured during the Bear’s Mill Christmas Preview Open House Nov. 21 and 22. An artists’ reception will be held Dec. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Millrace Potters exhibit will continue through the holidays.
The Millrace Potters Collective consists of Julie Clark, Dionne Mayhew, Rita Wiley and Loretta Wray.
Clark is a well-known name in the area, as a former owner of Bear’s Mill for 35 years with her husband, Terry. The Clarks continue to live adjacent to the mill, and Julie keeps a working studio with two electric kilns in the barn with a view of the mill.
Mahew lives in Versailles and makes pottery part time in Julie’s studio. A former manager of the mill’s store, she has been friends with Clark for many years.
Rita Wiley currently lives in Indianapolis, but she has plans to move soon to a home just up the road from the mill. She has a studio in her home, and she and Clark get together to mix glazes and fire new pieces. Clark said the two women met through Wiley’s husband, when he came to Clark’s store to write about her and mentioned that his wife would gladly work for Clark for free.
Also a former manager of the mill store, Wray grew up in Troy and now lives on a farm near New Castle, Indiana, where she keeps a working studio with a soda kiln. The women of the collective have often taken their pieces to her studio to make use of the soda kiln.
Clark explained that the soda kiln, like wood firing, creates directional effects on the surface of the pottery with variations from different angles of the pieces.
The four women all have their own distinctive styles of pottery, but because they share materials, they have similarities as well.
“We share clays and glazes,” Clark said. “And we mix our own glazes.”
The durable stoneware pieces are sometimes purely decorative, but often they are functional as well.
Clark said the pieces to be included in the upcoming exhibit will include kitchen items and bakeware. The pieces are oven-proof, nontoxic, dishwasher safe and microwave safe. The cookware and bakeware is all glazed and easy to clean, Clark said
The collective is now working on designing a line specifically for the Bear’s Mill with its own distinctive logo.
The pieces will be practical and functional kitchen and bakeware. The items will be similar in design to function as a collection to mix and match pieces in the kitchen, and they will be produced in sufficient number so that favorites can be shared and gifted to family and friends.
To keep up on the latest work by the Millrace Potters Collective, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MillracePotters.