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ArtWeek in Montague: Sawmill River Arts Gallery 

  • Above and right: Potter Lydia Grey demonstrates making a clay teapot as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, on Sunday. Recorder Photos/Dan Little

  • Above and below, right: Potter Lydia Grey demonstrates making a clay teapot as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, on Sunday. Recorder Photos/Dan Little

  • Potter Lydia Grey demonstrates making a clay teapot as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Lydia Grey at Sawmill River Arts Gallery, on Sunday, April 29, 2018 in Montague. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Potter Lydia Grey demonstrates making a clay teapot as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Photographer Judy Cummings gives a demonstration on macro photography with a bouquet of flowers as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Photographer Judy Cummings gives a demonstration on macro photography with a bouquet of flowers as part of ArtWeek at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague, on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Artist Joan Levy works on one of her gourd pieces at Sawmill River Arts Gallery, on Sunday, April 29, 2018 in Montague. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Artist Joan Levy works on one of her gourd pieces at Sawmill River Arts Gallery, on Sunday, April 29, 2018 in Montague. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The Sawmill River Arts Gallery, on Sunday, April 29, 2018 in Montague. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



Recorder Staff
Sunday, April 29, 2018

MONTAGUE — A thin slab of earthy gray clay sat in front of Lydia Grey, who would soon transform the damp material into a handsome teapot. First, she had to roll, cut and press a design into the pieces before they took the shape of the project’s final form.

A mosaic of tools and materials sat on Grey’s workspace. Some were conventional: scissors, dowel rods, a sponge, a knife. Others weren’t so commonplace: a fork, a rope and her own credit card. These tools help her make unique patterns in the clay.

“I developed this pattern by myself,” she said as she lightly dragged the card in wavy lines similar to those found when the wind blows sand, or when water makes sand ripple.

Grey’s demonstration was one of four resident artist demonstrations at Sawmill River Arts Gallery this weekend, which participated in the statewide event, ArtWeek. On Saturday, a weaver and painter demonstrated their talents and on Sunday, a potter and photographer. Any visitors to the gallery were welcomed to watch the artists do their work and ask questions.

Grey had a workspace set up in the back of the gallery so she could properly display her project and talk to gallery-goers about her journey with art. Gallery visitors took in the artwork and meandered through the rooms, stopping in the back to watch Grey’s process. Some asked questions, some stood back and took it in.

She has been making pottery full-time for about 20 years, but began to dabble in the medium during high school. Many of her artworks, which include teapots, bowls, mugs and more, are displayed at the gallery, of which she is a working member. She says she hasn’t quite made “thousands” of teapots yet, but it’s definitely “in the hundreds.”

A finished teapot she displayed had another interesting pattern, which Grey says was made by pressing a sheet of metal into the clay. The finished pot was a mixture of earthy tones with some browning, which the potter said is caused by her preferred method of wood-firing.

“The wood ash gives it the color variation,” she explained.

She carefully picked up one of the damp clay slabs she textured with her credit card.

“You have to be really careful not to stretch these,” she said of the material.

After carefully scoring the edges and piecing together the slabs with slip — a goopy mixture of water, clay and paper shreds that acts as a glue — the shell of the teapot was roughly formed.

The teapot will take 40 to 48 hours to fire in the wood kiln.

While this is the gallery’s first time participating in ArtWeek, this isn’t its first time doing artist demonstrations. Each of the gallery’s anniversary parties have included artist demonstrations, and this year’s party — its seventh — will take place May 19.

Photography

Later in the afternoon, member artist and photographer Judy Cummings showed up with a tripod, camera and vase of freshly-picked flowers. She positioned a nature-inspired backdrop against the wall and set up her tripod so that the camera was pointing towards the backdrop. Then, she took a daffodil from the vase and put it in front of the camera.

When taking pictures of the daffodil against the backdrop, it looked like she had walked into a field of flowers and focused on a single daffodil. She invited gallery patrons to play around with the composition and try their own hand at some indoor nature photography.

Cummings started photography after she retired in 2003. Now, she has time for travel to places like Morocco, the Southwest and Acadia National Park for her photographs. She has plans to return to Acadia in June with her photography mentor.

“It’ll be very inspirational,” she said. “I always need new inspiration.”

Cummings describes herself as an outdoor photographer. She captures nature, architecture and everything in between, as long as it’s outside. She also never uses a flash, saying that every photo is shot with “available light.”

“Even though I began in 2003, it took a couple years to become happy (with my art),” she said.

Grey seemed to think the day was a success as she packed up her materials to leave.

“It was really fun,” she said. “Good conversation, good questions, and I met people from out of the area.”

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: 413-772-0261, ext. 280