The Handle Factory a community pottery studio to learn and work

  • Molly Cantor in her new community clay studio called The Handle Factory, located in the former Lamson & Goodnow factory in Shelburne Falls, a cutlery manufacturer. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pottery by Kim Erslev at The Handle Factory. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Community clay studio The Handle Factory in the old Lamson & Goodnow factory. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Pottery by Kim Erslev at The Handle Factory. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Molly Cantor fills one of the kilns in her new community clay studio called The Handle Factory. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/1/2019 5:54:33 PM
Modified: 8/1/2019 5:54:21 PM

BUCKLAND — The Handle Factory, a community pottery studio in Shelburne Falls, is a space for new potters to learn and experienced ones to work on their own.

“Many potters work in their basement,” said owner Molly Cantor. “This is so much nicer a space.”

Cantor has been working in Shelburne Falls since 1997. Until last year she had been giving lessons in her gallery on Bridge Street, but the space is only large enough to take about 24 students, she said. Longtime students kept taking lessons because it gave them access to workspace, equipment and materials; so registration for new students would open up infrequently, even though there was plenty of interest.

“I felt bad because I was turning people away,” Cantor said.

Cantor first tried the community studio model last spring, in a space in the old factory complex at 49 Conway St., about half the size of the Handle Factory. The community studio offers lessons, but also allows members to work on their own during open hours.

Membership grew to the space’s capacity, so this January, Cantor moved the community studio to a larger space in the same factory complex.

“People who have been taking classes for a long time now are like little birds being set free. They don’t need the nest anymore,” Cantor said. “They can work on their own in the studio, and new people can come to take classes.”

Part of what’s new with the studio is that it’s a large room with high ceilings and plenty of windows — definitely better than a basement, Cantor said. All the equipment that potters typically keep in the basement is available at the studio — pottery wheels, kilns, broad work tables and shelf space for materials. Clay can be bought through the studio.

As a community pottery studio, the Handle Factory is somewhat unique. There are similar studios around Greenfield, Amherst and Northampton, but nothing like it in the western hills where Shelburne Falls is, Cantor said.

“I kind of see it, hopefully, as a legacy,” Cantor said. “There might be a time when I might not be running it anymore, but it will still exist without me.”

The Handle Factory is at 49 Conway St., Shelburne Falls — the former Lamson & Goodnow factory that manufactured cutlery.

Different membership plans are available from $60 a month to $120 a month. Weekly classes at different levels are also available. To learn more or register, go to

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-772-026,1 ext. 261.

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