There's something about saving the best for last, and perhaps that's why Jack Boyle's pottery shop in San Antonio is listed as the final stop on the Tour de Clay this Saturday and Sunday.
Boyle, who has made a living for more than 25 years selling pottery and teaching classes in his modest shop on Curley Road, has spent the last week cleaning house, hanging holiday lights and making room for the works of three fellow potters: Michele Ginouves of Brooksville, Susan Livingston of Lutz and McKenzie Smith of Ridge Manor.
They've all been pitching in.
"It takes a week and all of us to get this joint into shape, but it's going to be a magical transformation," Boyle said, adding that in years past, 200 to 300 people have stopped in during the two-day event.
"Even with the rain last year we had a lot," he added. "And this weekend the weather is looking to be really nice."
The Florida West Coast Ceramic Society's Tour de Clay, now in its fourth year, is an art lover's progressive dinner of sorts, offering a taste of talents at six working studios in Palm Harbor, Odessa, Lutz, Tampa and San Antonio. It's an eclectic menu featuring the functional and decorative wares of 21 potters along with the opportunity to take in a throwing demonstration or kiln opening, some good music and light food.
"The work is varied, the prices are varied, the concepts are varied," said Livingston, who sometimes uses fossils and bones in her large functional pieces.
In a new twist this year, each studio will raffle off a piece of pottery, with donations going to organizations such as Big Cat Rescue, Suncoast Hospice, WMNF community radio station and the Spring of Tampa Bay — Domestic Violence Prevention.
"It's a good way to be able to see what local artists are doing, keep your money here and support small business and give back to the community," said Smith, who is donating a serving platter to be raffled to benefit WMNF.
Go to tampatourdeclay.com for complete tour information and a map.
You can be done with one stop, or spend several hours or a couple of days meandering from studio to studio — but be aware that kiln openings will mostly be staggered throughout the day Saturday. The first one starts at 9 a.m. at Pottery Boys Clay Studio in Palm Harbor; the last one begins at 5 p.m. at Boyle's San Antonio Pottery.
It doesn't end there, though.
As in years past, Boyle and his comrades will have extended hours Saturday, until 9 p.m., complete with refreshments and entertainment by local musicians Lea Thomas and Mary Epperson.
They'll finish it up along with the other studios with the raffle at 4 p.m. Sunday.