Homer’s Pottery Tour 2024 to feature 9 potter studios

The 2024 Homer Pottery Tour will take place at nine local potters’ studios on May 18 and 19. The potters participating in this year’s event are Marie Herdegen, Ahna Iredale, Maygen Lotscher, Ruby Haigh, Lisa Wood, Cynthia Morelli, Jenny Chamberlain, Paul Dungan and David Kauffman.

The event started in 2018 to “help the non-clay working community gain understanding of what it looks like to make things out of clay, to see how we maintain our studios, familiarize people with our kilns and other tools, generate income and build community,” according to the Homer Potters website.

The tour is spread out across the larger region of Homer. There are three studios on the highest part of the ridge by Ohlson Mountain. There are two out East End Road, three on the Highland Drive area of the community and one in town.

Participating potter Cynthia Morelli provided a brief preview tour of her kilns on Ohlson Mountain at the Back Porch Gallery and shared some of her clay construction and firing process with Homer News on Friday, May 9.

Morelli said the tour is an opportunity to get a more intimate glimpse of the artists at their kilns and studios and observe their craft spaces instead of just seeing finished products on display in the local galleries. Additionally, Morelli only sells her work at a sales facility on her personal property instead of in a gallery.

She has been working with clay since the late 1970s. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics and used to work primarily in sculpture. She attended school at the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York. She built her studio when she moved to Homer in the 1990s after graduating from college in 1986.

Both of her kilns are wood-fired, which requires the “hands-on process” to keep the fires going consistently.

“You have to be out here for the duration of the firing. You have to stoke it — it’s a very hot wood stove stay,” she said. “My husband will help me with some of it, but the fire has to be consistently going all through the night.”

At the finish of the firing, the kiln’s temperature is approximately 2,300 degrees Farenheit, Morelli said.

“You’re stoking every few minutes at that point. In the earlier phase, it’s more like every 10 minutes. It’s a very hands-on thing; you can’t walk away.” She said once the fires get to about 1,900 degrees, it’s easier to lose rather than gain temperature.

In her smaller kiln, she fires for about 24 hours; the larger kiln fires for about three days. Both kilns take about four to five days to cool before she can unload the final finished product.

She built her larger kiln in 2012 and the smaller one in 2016.

“I knew I wanted a smaller kiln in addition to the larger one and left a spot on the chimney to plug in the second one,” she said.

Designing the kiln took several years of visiting other kilns and study.

“It was a big learning experience for me and, of course, time and money were a consideration.”

At the time, she and her family were living in a yurt and building their larger home — “many projects going on at once,” she said.

Last Friday, as she was just getting started in the process of loading the kilns, she presented the various unfired clay pieces that will go into the kilns. “It’s always nice to have a variety of shapes and sizes to load the kilns with.”

Her kilns and gallery are on a driveway off Ohlson Mountain Road. On the event days the road will be well marked with signs leading people to the gallery to provide people with clear directions.

Morelli said the pottery tour also benefits to the artists.

“The pottery tour has been a real cohesion builder. The potters don’t usually see each other so it gives us the opportunity to have some interaction and that’s been really positive.”

Find more information about each potter on the Pottery Tour at www.homerpotters.com.