Two generations of potters will be displaying their work at Red Chair Gallery for New Year’s Day First Friday. Michael and Michele Gwinup founded Blue Spruce Pottery in Bend in 1976.
In 2008, their daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Patrick Woodman, joined them in their pottery business. Melissa grew up in the pottery studio, helping her parents first with the glazing and when she was older, working in clay.
She attended her first art fair when she was three months old. Patrick also grew up in Bend and has a lifelong interest in art, working in many different mediums. He began to focus on pottery after meeting Melissa and working with her in the pottery studio. Melissa and Patrick are now making the majority of the stoneware pottery and have been working on several new items that will be exhibited in January.
“It’s been good to have the kids join us in the studio.” Michele says, “They bring in energy and new ideas, such as their knitting bowl, trays and coasters”
The four potters work from the Gwinup’s home studio. Their pottery is made by hand using either a potter’s wheel or a slab roller. Once the pottery is dried it is fired to a low temperature, called a bisque firing. It is then ready to be glazed and fired to a temperature of 2400 degrees. This turns the clay into a very durable material called stoneware. All of the stoneware glazes are safe and completely non-toxic. The pottery is very functional and may be used in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher.
The natural area around Central Oregon inspires much of the potters glazing. Their mugs, bowls and other functional items are often glazed with their signature “Cascade mountains” pattern.
Michael says, “It’s gratifying to know that over the years we’ve created pieces, even something as simple as a mug or a bowl, that have become a part of another’s daily life. Blue Spruce Pottery has been in Bend almost 40 years; it is nice to know that when we decide to retire, Melissa and Patrick will be here to carry on the pottery tradition.”
Red Chair Gallery
103 NW Oregon Ave., 541-306-3176, www.redchairgallerybend.com