Return of the Potters Market

The Potters Market is held at the Southfield Pavilion, at 26000 Evergreen Rd., in Southfield, Michigan. Photos by Katherine Warden
The Potters Market is held at the Southfield Pavilion, in Southfield, Michigan. Photos by Katherine Warden

This year marked the triumphant return of the nation’s largest ceramics-only art show, the Annual Potters Market at the Southfield Pavilion in Southfield, Michigan.

The Potters Market has traditionally been held every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year the Market was held December 1 - 4.

Each year the Potters Market selects a charity to benefit, and this year, proceeds from sales will be donated to the Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Over 140 artists came to showcase their wares and talents using every type of ceramic technique, from stoneware porcelain, raku, to smoke-fired functional and non-functional pieces. There were tiles, cooking and serving vessels, mugs, tea pots, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, sculptures, and so much more in a variety of shapes and sizes.

This year’s market is the first since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, over 33,000 pieces of ceramic art were sold.

The Market was divided into three main sections: sale floor, bulk, and mugs. Each artist was given a section for the bulk, or multiples of small pieces and mugs to display in the mug section. On the sales floor were full shelves for artists to display their unique pieces.

Crowds packed into the 17,000 square foot sales floor.

This year out of the 140 ceramicist participants, 11 of them were Henry Ford College students, staff or alumni.

Patricia Goodell is a non-instructional adjunct for the ceramics class and an alum of HFC’s art program. She also teaches community education ceramics classes at Schoolcraft College, where she is also a Ceramics Tech. “My love of ceramics is something that has been an outlet in so many ways and one of the neatest is the Annual Potters Market,” said Goodell, who added, “The people from the Market all have the same goal, and because we have clay in common we really speak the same language.”

Centurium “C” Frost, another alum and non-instructional adjunct, earned his associate degree in Art Foundations from HFC and his bachelor of fine arts degree in Illustration from the College for Creative Studies. He is well known around Michigan for his Detroit-themed pottery.

Kris Cravens is a retired businesswoman with a degree in Interior Design from Eastern Michigan University. Cravens reinvented herself as a full-time potter after taking ceramics classes at HFC. She is married to retired HFC instructor Pete Cravens.

Irene Naida, a retired businesswoman, became a semi-professional potter after taking ceramics classes at HFC.

Diane Eberts, a retired HFC Assisted Learning Services office staff member, also became a semi-professional potter after taking ceramics classes at HFC.

“Returning back to the market after it was closed for the past two years was like returning home to a happy family,” said Eberts. “It was especially nice to be there with so many artists that have been through the HFC ceramics program.”

Michael George earned his associate degree in Art Foundations from HFC and his bachelor of fine arts degree in Ceramics and Art Education from EMU. George taught at St. Frances Cabrini High School in Allen Park until recently accepting a new position at Redford Union High School in Redford Township. In addition to being a teacher, he and his wife Tori also own Ram’s Head Craftworks in Dearborn. Tori, Michael’s wife, is an honorary member of the HFC ceramics department. She has learned most of her ceramic techniques from Michael. “From the point of view of a customer, The Potters Market is an exciting shopping experience filled with a wide variety of ceramic artworks, thousands of pieces in hundreds of styles,” explained Tori and Michael George. “From the potter’s perspective it’s a whirlwind of activity over the course of four long days as well over a hundred ceramic artists come together to create a community all working towards putting on a successful show both for each other and our customers. For both groups it’s an amazing opportunity to explore the wide range of forms and techniques that can be used to create in clay.”

Erin Hoekzema originally studied criminal justice at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Hoekzema took a ceramics class at HFC with her boyfriend because it sounded like fun. She was hooked. Transferring to HFC, she studied ceramics and has since become a full-time production potter.

America Aleman earned her associate degree in Art Foundations from HFC. Aleman recently returned to HFC to take additional classes. After teaching the past summer in Schoolcraft’s “Kids On Campus” program, Aleman has decided to pursue a career teaching art.

Paige Deon graduated from HFC in late 2021, earning her associate’s degree in Studio Art. Currently, she is taking more ceramics classes at HFC to enhance her skills in becoming a full-time potter. At the age of 21, she started participating in major art fairs. This past summer, she was juried into the “Crosby Festival of the Arts” in Toledo, Ohio, “Plymouth Art in the Park” in Plymouth, Michigan, in the Ann Arbor “State Street Art Fair” in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in the “Funky Ferndale Art Fair” in Ferndale, Michigan.

Deon said: “I participated in the Annual Potters Market for the first time this year. I had done art fairs in the summer, but this art market was totally different. It was full of only pottery, with 120-plus different ceramic artists. I saw so much unique ceramic wares, and after four days, I don’t think I even got to see everything. I also got to meet so many cool potters and hear about their journeys, and I got many new ideas to try out for next semester. Everyone was very welcoming and nice, especially everyone at HFC who participated as well. I wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t keep encouraging me to try and apply. I couldn’t be more happy with my first experience at the Potters Market.”

Paul Latour is a retired Dearborn Heights art teacher. Latour took ceramics classes at HFC for personal enrichment for several years and is now a semi-professional production potter. Latour said: “After taking a ceramics class at Henry Ford College over a decade ago, I fell further in love with clay. The conceptual and technical assignments given at HFC helped me acquire the skills needed to produce my work. The number of HFC students in the Potters Market is a testament to the quality of the program. Now that I’m retired, after 30 years of teaching in the Crestwood School system, I have more time to devote to ceramics. My wife won’t let me store everything I make in the house so it’s great to have a venue like the Potters Market. Over 140 potters work together to put on a show like no other. Meeting and talking with these artists has been a real pleasure. I especially like listening to their stories of how they started on the path of self expression through clay. The Market’s organizers have created a wonderful shopping experience for both the artists and the customers. I enjoy interacting with the hundreds of people that come to buy ceramics. As a potter, it’s rewarding to know that people want to take your work home and hang it on the wall or put it on the kitchen table or just enjoy their morning coffee in it.”

Plans are already being made for next year’s Potters Market.

The Potters Market is held at the Southfield Pavilion, at 26000 Evergreen Rd., in Southfield, Michigan.

For information on Henry Ford College’s ceramics program, visit: www.hfcc.edu/academics/programs/ceramics.