AM 890 and kbbi.org: Serving the Kenai Peninsula
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local News

Nine potters, Seven studios, and one weekend to visit them all

IMG_5156.jpeg
Tara Schmidt
A collection of mugs by participating artists showcases the diversity of the artists on the tour.

When I meet Paul Dungan he is unloading bowls and mugs of various sizes from his electric kiln.

“These pots are just coming out of the bisque kiln, and there's a chance that they will have cracked in that firing for more than one reason.” he said as he tapped on each vessel. “So if it rings true like this, I know it's not cracked.”

Dungan is one of 9 potters participating in this weekend’s Homer Pottery Tour. It’s an annual event where local potters open up their studio for visitors to get a glimpse of their process and for the potters to showcase work.

Dungan continues to unload mugs. This is just one of the steps, the blank bisque wear will be fired again with glaze.

“It is what happens here day in and day out,” he added.

The glaze is a combination of ground-up minerals such as silica and feldspar that fuse to the clay that give pottery its unique colors.

Dungan has made his living solely from pottery for over 30 years. When he was introduced to clay he quickly fell in love with the material.

“I was 15 years old, perhaps a sophomore in high school and I didn't want to do anything else” he said.

Dungan first came to Kodiak to work in the fishing industry in the mid 1980’s but quickly returned to pottery. He moved to Homer and built his own studio, which he currently shares with local potter, Tara Schmidt. Her pottery will also be featured in this weekend’s tour. Dungan’s studio is large with a small gallery built in a room adjacent to the work space. But he says, every studio on the tour is different, "from a remodeled garage, to just a room in somebody's house."

Cynthia Morelli’s is another potter on the tour. Her studio is off of Ohlson mountain road, which is several miles away from Dungan's East end road studio. When I interviewed her earlier this month, there was 2 feet of snow on the ground. Its nice, like visiting winter.

“It'll be an adventure to come to my studio,” said Morelli.

Morelli has lived in Homer for almost 30 years and adapted to firing clay in colder conditions. Unlike most of the Homer’s potters she uses a wood-fired atmospheric kiln. Her style is also unique; while she does turn pots, she also enjoys creating abstract sculptures and drawings. She is preparing for an upcoming art show this June at the Bunnell Street Art Center, where she plans to exhibit sculptures based on my physical skeletal structure and emotions that are contained within her body.

Morelli will not be showing her exhibition work during the pottery tour but will have her pottery and sculptures available for sale and display. Jenny Chamberlain, another Homer area potter, will also show her work at Morelli’s studio. Morelli likes how the pottery tour connects local artists with one another.

“I think also for us as potters, we're usually working alone,” she said. “And so [because of the pottery tour] we have a reason to come together. There's a purpose. And it's created a lot more interaction among us, which I think is positive.”

Besides connecting local ceramic artists with each other, Paul Dungan said the tour also encourages connection between the artists and their patrons. 

“If you meet the potter, that's one step. If you see their studio, if you meet their dog, or see their garden, or perhaps that they have a trapeze in their studio —you just learn a lot more about that person. And to me, it adds value to the pot that was made by that person.”

The 2022 Homer Pottery tour will be this Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. It will feature 9 area potters: Jenny Chaimberlain, Paul Dungan, Marie Herdegen, Ahna Iredale, Maygen Lotscher, Cynthia Morelli, Jeff Szarzi and Lisa Wood.

You can find more information about the Homer Pottery Tour at homerpotters.com.