Thrown together |

Thrown together

Clay artisans keep collective spirit alive with holiday sale

Margaret Hair

— The way founding members Deb Babcock and Barb Gregoire tell their group’s history, the Steamboat Clay Artisans couldn’t help but form a guild.

About eight years ago, Babcock said, former Steamboat Springs resident and Colorado Mountain College ceramic arts instructor Jonathan Kaplan was working on a magazine article that asked him to test pottery wheels. He needed to get a big group of potters together to pull that off. When the dozens of active ceramic artists in Routt County saw what it was like to collaborate, they decided to form a collective. Asking around for interested artists, the Steamboat Clay Artisans’ founding members drew about 40 people.

“We just kept taking classes and just got to be pottery friends,” Gregoire said. “We would meet (at the classes) after hours, throwing and all that.”

There weren’t as many galleries in Steamboat Springs then as there are now, Babcock said, and the newly formed alliance of artisans needed somewhere to show and sell its work. The annual Steamboat Clay Artisans Holiday Pottery Sale was the group’s solution.

“I think, at that point, it was just that a bunch of us had started making so many pieces that we couldn’t give any more away, so the holiday sale came about,” said Gregoire, who helped organize this year’s sale.

About 12 local ceramic artists contributed work for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Depot Art Center. There are functional and artistic selections, with prices starting at less than $5 and running up to $900, Gregoire said.

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The range of artists who contribute usually is determined by who has had the most time to create, Babcock said. Some artists will share a retail space at the sale, and all have agreed to contribute a few items to a table of specially priced gifts for children ages 12 and younger. All those items will cost $5 or less.

“You have people in it that are doing pottery full-time now, and you have a lot of others that are doing it on the side,” Babcock said about the contributing artists. The sale usually draws between 500 and 800 people, she said, and will include music and refreshments.

“One thing about potters, I’ve found, is that they’re good cooks, so there will be a big table of food,” Babcock said.