Pots aplenty at third annual Pottery Party

A Micah Thanhauser mug and pitcher put to use. — Photo by Micah Thanhauser

A long way away from the traditional gallery thoroughfares, Micah Thanhauser relies on email to market his wares. Last weekend he hosted his third annual Pottery Party at his house in West Tisbury. Mr. Thanhauser converted the living room and kitchen of his family home into a collection of display tables covered with glazed mugs, bowls, vases, plates, plant hangers, sake cups, and even a clay beer koozie.

The 2008 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) started working with clay during his sophomore year of high school. A student in now- retired pottery teacher Scott Campbell’s Crafts and Sculptures class, Mr. Thanhauser found Mr. Campbell’s clay-centric philosophies to be inspiring and influential.

From there Mr. Thanhauser’s engagement with clay gradually progressed. He did an independent study with Chilmark Pottery during his senior year at MVRHS and attended ceramics workshops in North Carolina and Maine during a year off before college.

At Brown University he pursued a range of interests including philosophy, religion, meditation, literature and art – getting to take ceramics classes at RISD and apprenticing with a potter in Japan. Now a senior, he will complete his Independent Studies major, Contemplative Studies: Creativity & Consciousness, this next school year.

“I started meditation and pottery at about the same time,” Mr. Thanhauser said. “They go together in my mind because of that proximity. They’re very related. A lot of people have had the experience of working with clay being very peaceful and relaxing. In a way, making a pot on the wheel is just like meditating, except you have an object that you’re working with. In meditation you don’t have an object, you just have the breath and the body.”

Mr. Thanhauser started his pottery parties because he had begun making more pots than he could give away for birthdays and holidays. Realizing that people might buy them, he saw selling as a way to get inspired to keep making more. Each year his wares have shown development in style and focus. One year his mugs featured thumb rests, another year brought hanging planters, and this year found many of the pots with written or carved inscriptions from some of Mr. Thanhauser’s favorite poems.

Also of note are Mr. Thanhauser’s materials. “I’ve been using some Island clay which I got from Peter Rodegast, who works with South Mountain [Company],” he said. “Using local materials is really satisfying to me, and I think a lot of people would want an object that’s literally made out of the Island. I’m currently looking for a good way to get a source of Island clay.”

Last weekend’s party was a great success, and he raised $130 for the Island Food Pantry, as each of the bowls sold saw some of their proceeds go to the charity.

For these achievements Mr. Thanhauser offered words of thanks. “The community of artists, particularly of potters, has been amazing and invaluable in my development, and I really couldn’t have done this without an amazing amount of support from the community,” he said. “Just for this show I relied on the potters at Featherstone, Geoff Borr at Chilmark Pottery, and Washington Ledesma — all of whom helped me fire pots for this show.”

Contact Micah Thanhauser at his email address: micahthanhauser@gmail.com.