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Area potters bring mobile learning lab to local schools

  • Fifth-grade students Quinn McDonald, 11, from left, Ryan Crowther, 10, Tyler Janick, 11, Morgan Walsh, 10, and Alexya Echevarria, 11, etch designs onto unfired clay cups Wednesday during a workshop with the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program at R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE

  • Potter Christy Knox of Cummington helps Chris Delano, 11, build a handmade clay cup during Wednesday’s workshop at R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE

  • Fifth graders Nick Vargas, 11, right, and Chris Delano, 11, etch designs onto unfired clay cups Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Morgan Walsh, 10, makes a clay cup on a potters wheel Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Tyler Robinson, 10, plays with clay during a Pots on Wheels mobile pottery workshop at RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Fifth grader Levi Armstrong, 10, etches designs onto an unfired clay cup Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Ethan Rios, 11, top, makes a clay cup while Wes Parent, 11, helps spin the potters wheel, Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Cummington based potter Christy Knox instructs a group of fifth grade students on how to build hand made clay cups Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • The Pots on Wheels mobile pottery van visited fifth grade students Wednesday at RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Cummington based potter Christy Knox, left, helps Sandi Hoeckh, 10, build a hand made clay cup Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Wes Parent, 11, looks at finished pottery pieces inside the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery van at RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Morgan Walsh, 10, makes a clay cup on a potters wheel Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Benjamin Stone, 11, etches designs onto an unfired clay cup during Wednesday’s workshop. DAN LITTLE

  • Jen Tetreault, left, helps Ethan Rios, 11, make a clay cup on a potters wheel Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette

  • Fifth grader Alexya Echevarria, 11, etches designs onto an unfired clay cup Wednesday during an educational workshop by the Pots on Wheels mobile pottery program brought to RK Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence. DAN LITTLE—Daily Hampshire Gazette



@DHGCrosby
Sunday, May 01, 2016

NORTHAMPTON — Ten-year-old Morgan Walsh wanted a special gift to give her mom on Mother’s Day. The heart-shaped pottery cup she crafted during the school day was one of a kind, but it won’t go to her mother.

Instead, Walsh’s piece will be given to someone else as part of a pottery create-and-exchange that took place Wednesday at the R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence.

In exchange, the Northampton fifth-grader had her pick of pottery cups from the POW truck, a bright yellow pottery gallery and learning center on wheels.

POW, otherwise known as Pots on Wheels, is a collaborative group of six functional potters from New England — Steve Theberge of Northampton, Mark Shapiro of Worthington, Sam Taylor of Westhampton, Hannah Niswonger of Winchester, Adero Willard of Chicopee, and Hayne Bayless of Ivorytown, Connecticut. They use the roughly 20-by-8-foot vehicle to reach communities with mobile pottery shows, projects, and collaborations.

“The great thing about POW is that we can take our show on the road,” said Christy Knox of Cummington, a potter from the Hilltown 6, a group of now nine nationally known potters from the Hilltowns of western Massachusetts.

“You don’t have to come to our pottery studio,” she said, (because) “we bring it to you.”

POW is working in collaboration with the Hilltown 6 to bring its “Big Yellow Van” to three local elementary schools to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Hilltown 6.

“We wanted to mark that period of time and do something really special,” said Knox. “We decided that the best impact we could have was to do a service learning project in local schools.” She added that POW wanted to pay it forward after receiving generous community support over the years.

About 50 fifth-graders made and contributed their unfired pottery cups in the free two-hour workshop, replacing their pieces with finished ones made and donated by someone else. The children also had the opportunity to use a potter’s wheel, build with clay slabs and etch designs into their cups.

Fifth-grader Quinn McDonald, 11, of Florence, immediately recognized the difference between the handcrafted items and those that are mass-produced.

“It just felt good in my hands and like someone actually made it for me to pick up,” he said, of the cup he chose to take home.

Knox said POW’s visit to the school not only provided the students with a chance to experience every stage of the pottery process, but also gave them a glimpse of what it’s like to be a potter.

“It’s a nice full-circle exchange that helps them learn about what our life is like,” Knox said.

Sam Taylor, of POW and the Hilltown 6, added that the exchange “forces you to make a connection not only with art you made, but also art made by someone else.”

Morgan may still get a chance to show her mother the cup she made, because the pieces will be displayed at Northampton’s Art Night Out on June 10 in front of the Artisan Gallery.

POW will also visit the Anne. T. Dunphy Elementary School in Williamsburg and the R.H. Conwell Elementary School in Worthington before the end of the school year.

Members of the Hilltown 6 are Mark Shapiro of Worthington, Hiroshi Nakayama of Worthington, Christy Knox of Cummington, Eric Smith of Cummington, Maya Machin of Ashfield, Robbie Heidinger of Westhampton, Michael McCarthy of Goshen, Sam Taylor of Westhampton, and Constance Talbot of Windsor.

Sarah Crosby can be reached at scrosby@gazettenet.com.