Southwest Virginia–Last year, potters spilled out of the crowded cafeteria and into the hallways of Cave Spring High School at the annual Blue Ridge Potters Guild show and sale. So this year, the Guild is relocating to a more spacious location: Patrick Henry High School.

“We had just really outgrown Cave Spring,” Jessie Rusinko, publicity director for the show, said.

Potters from Roanoke, Botetourt County, and the New River Valley will converge on Roanoke this weekend for the annual Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School.
Potters from Roanoke, Botetourt County, and the New River Valley will converge on Roanoke this weekend for the annual Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School.

It’s fortunate that the Guild chose this year to move, as the show is featuring an impressive number of potters. They total 62, from all over the Roanoke and New River valleys.

“Which is the biggest number we’ve ever had,” Barbara Wise, the show’s co-chair with Becky Carr, said.

The potters in the show account for more than half of all of the members in the Blue Ridge Potters Guild. The local non-profit was founded in 1996, and is dedicated to artistic education and outreach for its members and the community. All year long, the potters labor over their clay and glaze; for just one weekend every October, they have the chance to show off their hard work to the community, and hopefully sell some pottery in the process.

This year’s show and sale on October 8-10 is the 11th annual, having begun at Virginia Western Community College before outgrowing that location and moving to Cave Spring at least seven years ago. This year, the potters felt the need to move to an even larger space.

“We also want a place that we can stay year after year after year,” Rusinko said.

Indeed, space is important, because along with allowing 62 potters to set up booths to sell their work, the Guild also holds demonstrations and needs room for a special gallery for award winners. Awards are given out at each show based on a theme, this year’s being “A little bit out of round.” Potters were asked to interpret the theme, and judges from outside the Guild will give awards for categories such as most unique and most amusing.

Still, the main purpose for the show is to get the potters’ names out there, and to give them a venue to sell their work. This year, potters from Roanoke include Cave Spring residents Linda Bryant, Bonnie Burt, Yolanda Eaddy, Kathy Edwards, Suzanne Fluty, Betty Jo Hayes, Leonardo Kopellof, Pat Lindsay, Pat Marlowe, Stephen Mitchell, Sherry O’Brien, Doris Patton, Meredith Poole, Roxanne Purcell, Carol Rosenberg, Susanne Sellars, and Mary Tousman.

Vinton potters include Judy Baker, Gwynne Myers, and Jim Privitera, who owns Vinton’s Earthworks Pottery studio. Also, potters from Salem include Jessie Rusinko and Beth Stec, and Jennifer Mulligan and Cole Semones of New Castle will have their work for sale.

Potters from the New River Valley include Ann Fournier Anderson of Radford, Ann Hess of Christiansburg, McCabe Coolidge and Ron Sutterer of Floyd, and Christine Kosiba and Peg Sorrentino of Blacksburg.

Potters from Botetourt County include Rita Firestone of Fincastle and Paul Jamison of Daleville.

The potters will receive a percentage of their total sales, and the remainder goes to the Guild to help with the show’s costs, and to fund education and outreach programs. The Guild brings in internationally-known potters to teach workshops, and without money from the show, the costs for their instruction would be unaffordable. The Guild also teaches pottery at the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center and the Rescue Mission.

With all the good the Guild does for the community, including donating bowls for the Souper Bowl fundraiser in February, the members hope that the community will come to support them. Only pottery is sold at the show, and with each passing year, the artwork is more and more superb, as new members join and old members improve.

“People who come to the show, if they’ve never been, will be amazed,” Rusinko said.

The show at Patrick Henry High School opens with a reception on Friday October 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.  On Saturday, hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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