August 7, 2017

I keep meeting potters, women, who have come to a career in clay quite by accident, and turned a pastime into a profession. I mentioned Paula Greif the other day, a Hudson potter who found the wheel in her late 50s. Further along our Catskills trail, I came across the work of Carolyn Duke who started pinching pots as a way to relax while raising young children. “After they’d gone to bed, I used to sit at the kitchen table and play with clay,” says the Sullivan County transplant. She and her husband, a photographer, moved to the Catskills from New Jersey over a decade ago, and live in a beautiful farm house with an adjoining barn that serves as studio to both. Duke’s work is entirely hand built, and has a crude, earthy feel that I love. “You can’t take it all too seriously,” she says. “And you have to be prepared to chuck away a lot of pots.” The bowl I bought, reddish earthenware with an aqua interior, shows he signs of its maker, finger prints and other markings that give the piece more character. It’s really quite beautiful.



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