Potters Guild of Central PA

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The Potters Guild is a community of local potters from the novice to the professional whose goal is to support the art of ceramics in Central Pennsylvania. The Potters Guild was started in 1971 with the enthusiastic backing of a small group headed by Shirley Siegenthaler. The original membership numbered about thirty. A high-fire kiln was designed and built with volunteer labor. Other equipment was bought, borrowed and assembled, and the studio space rented from the Art Alliance of Central Pa. Guild activities, centered around ceramic art and community, have continued since that time in the same Lemont location.

We host sales and gallery events centered around the ceramic arts, today. We also offer classes throughout the year from our studio in Lemont. Many of our artists are shown in galleries and boutiques around the world, and some are available for commission. Some of our potters have been teachers and professors for their careers. And some, simply hobbyist potters. Our artists membership numbers fluctuate and we are always looking for new applicants, as State College can be a transient community.

member inside kiln

“In the fall of 1971 at the instigation of three local potters Sandy Swanson, Beverly Henshaw and Shirley Siegenthaler, 30 potters met for the purpose of organizing a potters cooperative. These individual potters were interested in sharing workshop space, equipment, ideas, and educating themselves and the public in ceramic art. The newly formed Art Alliance agreed to rent their basement area to the group. All members of the potters group would also be art alliance members and thus, a relationship was formed between the two groups which has been beneficial to both. The Potters Guild had its beginning.

Organized as a cooperative, all members were to share equally in the costs, the maintenance of the studio and the administration of the guild activities. Officers were elected, by laws were written and three committees were formed to take care of the activities in the shared studio. Through the years, the original concept of a cooperative Guild with the duties shared by all has continued.

In March 1972, the Guild received the building permit to build the gas kiln and in September 1972 the first firing took place. Doctor Kenneth Patel was the adviser on this project.

kiln build 1972

Activities through the years have included: classes, workshops, sales, raku firings, exhibitions, art festival sales, pit firings, and of course parties! Many well-known potters have given us workshops: Dr. Ken Beittel, Jim Leedy, Warren Hullow, Jack Troy, Bruno LaVerdi, Charles Counts, David Don Tigney and Roger Zellner – to mention just a few.

Later years have seen the rebuilding of the propane kiln. Additional equipment has been bought and the studio now provides adequate facilities for the “once in a while” Potter as well as the production oriented Potter. Although our membership has fluctuated, the enthusiasm of the members continues to carry forward the goals originally set by the group.”

May 1985
Shirley Siegenthaler