When it comes to pottery, it’s the fire that’s the mojo behind a pot’s color, texture, and durability. Nineteen regional potters are stoked to share their work and their creative processes during the annual Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour October 7-8.

This free, self-guided tour along Hwy 75 stretches thirty miles between Omaha and Herman, NE and includes four stops: The Florence Mill located at I-680 and 30th Street, Dennison Pottery in Ponca Hills, Too Far North Wine Tasting in Ft. Calhoun, and Big Table Studios south of Herman. Each location features potters with a wide range of clay styles.

The Florence Mill will host five potters in all, four from Nebraska: Tom Quest, Tim Reese, Amy Smith and Susan McGilvrey, plus Tara Dawley from Kansas City. Their work includes pastel-colored porcelain tea bowls, wood-fired jars and bowls for daily use, expressionistic and brightly colored earthenware teapots and mugs, contemporary-styled pitcher and creamer sets, and deeply textured slab-built bowls, vases and wall plaques.

Raku, electric or wood kilns are the firing methods chosen by the potters at Dennison Pottery. Host John Dennison welcomes Bill Gossman of New London, MN, Mike Bose from Bedford, IA, Naomi Keller from Sunrise Beach, MO, and new to the tour this year, Andy Rogers from Omaha

Here, fish and lizards ornament rake-fired vessels, wood ash touches are fixed on hourglass vases, clay see pods vibrate with color, geometric wall plaques reflect a focus on architecture and sculptural masks explore light and dark themes.

Salt and wood fire methods distinguish the work of potters Travis Hinton and Eric Knoche at Too Far North. Tour visitors will see funky flowered pots that reflect the meshing of wood ash glazes, colored clays and salt firings as well as abstract sculptures that explore the human figure.

At Big Table Studios, resident potters Liz Vercruysse and John Martelle host Amy Nelson, and Doug Schroder from Omaha, Zac Spates from Hudson, WI, and Jonathan Walburg, from Washburn, WI. Also, Anne Meyer from St. Joe, MN, joins the tour this year.

Wood-fire potters make up the majority here and tour guests can even explore the Anagama-like kiln on-site. Two potters also show examples of electric and gas-fired work. Flame paths and ash blushes float on dinner plates and floor vases alike, figurative sculptures reflect a printmaker’s use of line while totems accent the studio grounds.

Each stop offers their own brand of homemade hospitality: some soup, some jazz, some pizza, some wine tasting and, surprise, surprise the smoke of burning fires. Tour hours are 10AM-7 PM on Saturday and 10AM-5 PM on Sunday. Download a tour map and meet the artists at www.omahanorthhillspotterytour.com.

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