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Potters will open their kilns for Tour de Clay of Tampa Bay

Potter Glenn Woods says every day is like Christmas when he opens his electric kiln to see how the glazes have reacted to the heating and cooling process.

"Sometimes you get socks and underwear, and sometimes you get a shiny new bike," he said.

On Saturday, he's hoping for some shiny new pottery that is beautiful and functional when he opens his kiln at 10 a.m. in the Pottery Boys Clay Studios in Palm Harbor.

It's all part of the inaugural Tour de Clay of Tampa Bay, presented by the newly formed Florida West Coast Ceramics Society.

On Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 13 potters at four locations — two in Palm Harbor, one in Tampa and one in San Antonio — will discuss their work and give demonstrations.

They're also hoping people will do some holiday shopping, selecting from their uniquely crafted wares: bowls, mugs, plates, vases, casserole dishes and other items.

Each studio will have a kiln opening Saturday. Pottery Boys is the first suggested stop on the self-guided tour.

Woods says the cooler weather is favorable for his crystalline glazing technique, which requires porcelain pieces to reach a peak temperature of 2,355 degrees, followed by a quick cool at various temperatures and holding times.

Ideally, this glaze chemistry makes the zinc-silicate crystals grow, producing rings of color surrounded by halos that appear to float on a contrasting background.

"Some people think they look like cells, while others say they look like balloons or flowers," he said.

The next suggested stop is the Clay and Paper Studio in Palm Harbor, where artist Ira Burhans will open his electric kiln at noon Saturday. His studio is beneath his Key West-style home.

He has been creating pottery professionally for 28 years, not counting his childhood when he fashioned robots, dinosaurs and lizards from clay and fired them in his mother's kiln.

These days he employs a wavy, carved pattern in much of his work, creating functional stoneware pottery in a variety of whimsical designs.

"The carving allows the glazes to flow, and it's always exciting to see what they will do, where they will go," he said. "Each piece is different."

The plates, casserole dishes and teapots he creates tend to evoke images of sand and sea, reflecting his love of windsurfing and the environment.

"Handmade pottery connects people to their own individual style," he said. "When you buy an artist's work, you're buying a piece of that person."

Have a Diversions idea? Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

If you go

Tour de Clay of Tampa Bay is a self-guided tour of pottery studios Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The inaugural event features kiln openings, demonstrations and pottery for sale. Pottery studios on the tour are:

Pottery Boys Clay Studios, 30 Bogie Lane, Palm Harbor. Owners Glenn Woods and Keith Herbrand will be joined by ceramic artists Harry Welsch and Kim Wellmen. Kiln opening at 10 a.m. Saturday and demonstrations both days.

Clay and Paper Studio, 110 Peterson Ave., Palm Harbor. Owner Ira Burhans is joined by ceramic artist Kimberli Cummings. Kiln opening at noon Saturday and pottery demonstrations both days.

Rising Sun Pottery, 1112 W Carmen St., Tampa. Joining owner Peter Streit will be Joshua Streit, Chuck and L.C. McGee, Mark Fehl, and Kim Kirchman. Kiln opening at 2 p.m. Saturday, pottery demonstrations Sunday.

San Antonio Pottery, 11903 Curley Road, San Antonio. Owner Jack Boyle will be joined by potters David Kastner and McKenzie Smith. Kiln opening is Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by music and refreshments. Pottery demonstrations both days.

For more information, a map and directions, visit the Web site at www.tampatourdeclay.com or call Peter Streit at (813) 253-6055.

Potters will open their kilns for Tour de Clay of Tampa Bay 12/11/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:11pm]
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