FIERY FINDS: Pottery for the Masses offers affordable shopping for unique and locally crafted gifts

Christmas is a time of giving. Giving of love. Giving of time. Giving of thanks. And, yes, giving gifts. Many folks strive to find unique presents for their loved ones, which often means shopping for local, handmade one-of-a-kind finds.

ELEPHANT PITCHER: Pottery for the Masses at Thrill of the Hunt will feature unique and affordable works by local artists like Shayne Greco. Courtesy image by Shayne Greco
ELEPHANT PITCHER: Pottery for the Masses at Thrill of the Hunt will feature unique and affordable works by local artists like Shayne Greco. Courtesy image by Shayne Greco

Enter Pottery for the Masses. Thrill of the Hunt will be hosting the sale from local potters on Saturday, December 15.

Pottery for the Masses stems from Wilmington’s popular Art for the Masses (now overseen at UNCW but was postponed in 2018 from Hurricane Florence). While Art for the Masses will return next November, local artisans like Shayne Greco wanted to offer something in its stead before the holidays ended this year.

“My hopes are to create a sense of community with my fellow potters [and] artists,” Greco says, “as well as bring together a crowd for the appreciation of our craft.”

Featuring more than 20 ceramic artists, including Greco, Pottery for the Masses will offer functional plates, bowls and mugs, as well as abstract sculpture and decorative teapots. Best of all, nothing will cost more than $250. The price cap offers artists an opportunity to make work more affordable to more people.

“Many times I am asked if I can give discounts or price breaks,” Greco tells. “I price my work as low as I can from the start, in hopes more people can enjoy it. At this show I significantly discount a few of my high-end pieces to meet the $250 cap. I may lose money but it is definitely worth it to meet my fans and show them appreciation.”

Greco recently expanded into different types of pottery with this show in mind. He’ll have signature stoneware, like a rustic pitcher, with an intricately sculpted elephant head as the handle, as well as new works, using varied methods. He will debut different types of Raku, of which the labor-intensive process yields some spectacularly colorful pieces.

“Raku can be very temperamental because it is exposed to extreme thermal shock,” he describes. “It is literally taken from the 1,850-degree kiln to surrounding ambient temperature within seconds. This process creates incredible stress on the piece but can create amazingly beautiful and unique colors. Along with Raku, I am also learning the art of high-temperature woodfirings. The firings can get up to 2,400 degrees, and the goal is to actually liquefy wood ash to drip down on the pieces. The process can last a week or more. It takes an entire team of people working in shifts to feed the massive kiln at all hours. The experience is almost spiritual.”

Greco will bring his incredibly lifelike Leatherback Sea Turtle hatchlings, inspired by a local newscast about the endangered species. They hatch frequently on our beaches; yet, it was the first time he’d ever seen them.

“I had to look it up and discovered [they] can [grow to] as big as small cars!” he remembers. “That inspired me to create a design of mother and baby hatching Leatherback turtles that can hang on a wall. They are all sold separately.”

Aside from realistic sizes, ranging from hatchling to adult sea turtles, Greco has been perfecting his glaze technique to make them look as real as possible. “I think I finally got the hang of it,” he notes. “The shell was especially difficult.” There are nine different colors of glaze used on his larger sea turtle alone, which usually price at $320 and there will only be one available at Pottery for the Masses.

Mary Holden Hall, 50-year clay veteran and owner of Fat Cat Pottery, will be there Saturday, along with other studio members: Lincoln Morris, Stephanie Bennett, Robin Harkey, Brian Stubbs, Janelle Walker and others. Stephanie Bennett also primarily does sea-life and nautical pieces. She keeps her price range to $100 or less.

“I have done a couple shows over the past weekends [and] people seem to be spending money this year,” she observes. “The art of pottery has really grown in this area, and I’m excited this group could pull this together for the public.”

Aside from discounted pieces, unique designs and fun experiments, there will be holiday ornaments, smaller decorative sculptures, mugs and lots of stocking-stuffer items. Weather permitting, Saturday will feature live wheel-throwing demonstrations, too. As well, glass blower and fellow Art for the Masses outcast Jim Downey will be doing live glass sculpting. More previews of artists’ works and event updates can be found on Pottery for the Masses’ Facebook event page.

Pottery for the Masses
Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m.
Thrill of the Hunt
4713 Oleander Dr.
Facebook event page

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