Marking 30 years of throwing pots
Members of Yellow Springs Pottery, front row,
from left: Janet Murie, Jane Hockensmith and Kim Kramer; back row:
Dave Hergesheimer, Evelyn LaMers, Michele Dutcher, Eliza Bush, Jerry
Davis and Marsha Cochran. Not pictured: Justin Teilhet.
Yellow Springs Pottery
customers often peer toward a door behind the cash register and ask if
they can see a potter at work, potter Eliza Bush said. But the door leads
to a closet, not a pottery studio, and customers sometimes leave disappointed.
But next weekend the 10 potters who make up the Yellow Springs Pottery
collective will put themselves and their craft on display at a day-long
pottery-making demonstration in celebration of their 30th anniversary.
The event, which takes place Saturday, April 26, 10 a.m.4 p.m.,
in Kings Yard, will feature three potting wheels going all day. The potters
hope to create 100 pots, which they will donate to the John Bryan Community
Pot Shop and to Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton.
We wanted to give something back to the community, said Bush,
a 20-year member of the collective. Villagers are still our main
customers, and they have supported us all these years.
Its unusual for potters to join forces in a collective business
and even more unusual for the business to have flourished for three decades,
said Bush and fellow co-op member David Hergesheimer.
It seems like lots of co-op groups have internal friction, but we
just havent had that, said Hergesheimer, whos been a
co-op member 15 years. Mainly, he believes, the members have stayed together
because the stores been financially successful. And it continues
to thrive, even in a shaky economy.
Recessions come and go and we hardly notice them, said Hergesheimer,
who believes that people usually buy pottery for gifts, and gift-giving
takes place no matter how sluggish the economy. The stores financial
success can also be linked to the variety of pottery it offers, said former
co-op member Nora Osbourne. Pottery members consciously attempt to include
in their membership potters who practice different styles, so as to give
customers a choice, she added.
The cooperatives longevity can also be linked to its members
stability, said Hergesheimer, who said that, during his own 15-year tenure
as a member, only four members have left and been replaced by others.
Theres a slow rate of coming and going.
Co-op members stay because they try hard to work out any problems or disagreements,
said Evelyn LaMers, who as a 29-year veteran has been with the store the
For a co-op to work, everyone has to be happy, she said. Members
stay happy because, when dissatisfactions arise, theyre dealt with
immediately, LaMers said. Members meet together to brainstorm solutions
to the problem and more often than not, they find a solution.
I love this part, she said. We analyze possible solutions
to find the best and we figure it out. We do it until everyones
pleased. It works fabulously.
That same desire to please crosses over to relationships with customers,
If we have an unhappy customer, well do anything we can to
fix it, she said. Well apologize, well buy them
flowers, well do what it takes to make people happy.
During Yellow Springs Potterys history, membership has ranged from
8 to 11, said Bush, with 10 the optimum number. Currently, local members
are Bush, Hergesheimer, Evelyn LaMers, Jane Hockensmith and Janet Murie,
and out-of-town members are Marsha Cochran of Cincinnati, Jerry Davis
of Dayton, Kim Kramer and Michele Dutcher of Beavercreek and Justin Teilhet
Other villagers who have been Yellow Springs Pottery members over the
years include Eve Fleck, Patsy Gardner, Faith Morgan and Paul Laursen.
The stores wide variety of pottery ranges from the classic, functional
pots of Jerry Davis to the hand-painted, brightly colored serving trays
of Kim Kramer to the abstract flower vases created by Hergesheimer and
his wife, Keiko. While other potters often assume that Pottery members
compete with each other, the reality is quite different, Bush said.
The cooperative spirit is always stressed, said Bush. We
support each other.
New Pottery members generally already have years of pottery experience,
so that each person arrives with a fully developed style, said Bush, who
believes that self-assurance contributes to the members lack of
As well as showing the public how potters work, the cooperative members
look forward next week to seeing each others process, and to collaborating
on some pieces, said Hergesheimer. The potters may add handles or spouts
on each others work, or two potters might throw a pot simultaneously.
Theres no telling what might happen, Hergesheimer said
with a grin.
Making pottery is one of the worlds oldest crafts, and the potters
take pride in the longevity of their profession. On your best days
you feel part of an ancient stream of potters who have been working since
prehistoric times, he said.
Though Hergesheimer, Bush and LaMers have each thrown thousands of pots
in their lives, the process continues to fascinate them. I think
glazing is alchemy, Bush said about the process of mixing sand to
make a glassy decorative effect. Hergesheimer said that, whenever a new
load of clay is delivered to his studio, he remembers the fairy tale about
a princess who turns straw into gold.
Next Saturday, Yellow Springs residents can watch as these potters take
their straw and turn it into gold.