BRATTLEBORO — It’s been a championship year for mycologists and wild mushroom epicureans, with abundant harvests of varieties such as chicken of the woods, oyster, lion’s mane and even the elusive morel.
To commemorate this year of mushroom bounty, the artisans of Brattleboro Clayworks have created plates, mugs and bowls and other fungi-themed items for sale through Oct. 30.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain,” said potter Billie Stark, who spins her creations at 141 Cider Mill Hill in West Brattleboro. “I think we are all sick of rain.”
The fungi-themed creations are also a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“We just wanted to do something different and get back to some semblance of normal.”
The Clayworks hosts nine members who work their magic in their own little niches in the building. Clayworks, which was founded in 1983, also offers 10-week classes, two nights a week, though currently the classes are full.
The next classes don’t start until January, said Stark.
“Everybody should try it,” said Stark, who started at Clayworks in 2001. “One of the good things about clay is if you make something you don’t like, you can start again. I’ve done that a lot.”
These are the first classes Clayworks has offered since the beginning of the pandemic, though it has been open to five members at a time, with proper safety precautions in place, since May.
In addition to work space, Clayworks has a gallery where the public can view and purchase functional pottery, sculpture, and ceramic tiles created by the members.
Its artist members include Stark and Alan Steinberg, Annie Lauterbach, Claudia Teachman and Andrea Matthews.
Stark started into pottery with a potters wheel her dad made for her when she was a kid. She stopped throwing after high school and didn’t start again until the kids were out of school. She worked at Antioch University in Keene, N.H., from 2001 to 2013 and for many years since has been the church administrator for Newfane Church.
“My regular job is bookkeeping and numbers ... that kind of stuff. This is what keeps me semi-sane.”
Stark does not consider herself a professional potter, not even an artist.
“I make mostly functional pottery for folks who like to cook, like me, to use on a daily basis,” she said.
For more information, visit brattleboroclayworks.com.