Pottery on the Hill 2018

By Phil Hutinet on October 29, 2018
Bandana-Pottery: Pots in Action. Photo credit: L Bandana Pottery. Courtesy Hill Center.

Pottery on the Hill 2018 Schedule:

Preview Reception
Friday, November 2, 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $35/advance, $40/day of the event. Tickets are available at PotteryontheHillDC.org or by calling (202) 549-4172

Free Show & Sale
Saturday, November 3: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, November 4: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Raku Firing
Saturday, November 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Hill Center presents its eighth iteration of Pottery on the Hill beginning Friday, November 2 through Sunday November 4, 2018.  The annual event has become one of Hill Center’s signature events and a hallmark of its arts programming.  Once a year, DC area residents are fortunate enough to have direct access to the works of some of the nation’s top potters all under one roof.

Mark Shapiro is a favorite of past Pottery on the Hill attendees.  Image courtesy Hill Center.

The organizers of the expo have curated an environment that feels much more like fine arts fair than a craft market.  Nationally renowned potter Dan Finnegan, who has collaborated with Hill center since Pottery on the Hill’s inception in 2011, intentionally selects master potters whose work not only provides form and function to the user but whose ceramic works possess a pleasing aesthetic .

This year’s line-up includes Richard Aerni (Rochester, NY), Birdie Boone (Meadowview, VA), Andrea Denniston (Floyd, VA), Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz (Rochester, NY), Kenyon Hansen (Fayetteville, AR), and Kate Johnston (Seagrove, NC) join Pottery on the Hill regulars Bandana Pottery-Michael Hunt & Naomi Dalglish (Bakersville, NC), Mary Barringer (Shelburne Falls, MA), Robert Briscoe  (Minneapolis, MN), Dan Finnegan (Fredericksburg, VA), Michael Kline (Bakersville, NC), Matthew Metz (Alfred Station, NY), Mark Shapiro (Worthington, MA), Stacy Snyder (Arlington, VA), Sam Taylor (Westhampton, MA), and Catherine White (Warrenton, VA).

Potter Kate Johnston sits among her large pots. Photo credit: Kate Johnston. Courtesy Hill Center.

Pottery on the Hill begins with a ticketed preview reception on Friday, November 2  at 6:30 p.m.  This allows ticket holders exclusive access to purchase work and to meet the artists in a less hurried environment.  In addition, Hill Center offers the first 100 attendees at the preview reception an opportunity to select a complimentary cup created by one of the potters.

Saturday and Sunday, November 3 & 4, Pottery on the Hill opens free of charge to the general public. Works from this year’s participants include a wide array of functions including mugs and cups, plates, bowls, beer steins and shot glasses, vases, platters, sushi dishes, baking vessels, all of which are unique, one-of-a-kind handmade object which one can enjoy daily.

Andrea Denniston’s work will brighten any table.  Photo credit: Andrea Denniston. Courtesy Hill Center.

Pottery on the Hill’s programming has always included a series of demonstrations in addition to the pottery expo including a “pottery truck”, complete with a mobile kiln and potter’s wheel and a “pottery slam” where potters demonstrated their skills in front of an audience.

Building on the success of last year’s Raku firing on the premises of Hill Center, the organizers have invited northeast-based District Clay to return to the West Plaza where demonstrations will take place from 11 a.m.  to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.  District Clay invites the public to decorate and glaze pots and to return to watch the Raku firing process. Even if those who elect not to participate can still witness the glazing and firing process which, with raku, involves “combusting” the stoneware.

New cups by Dan Finnegan for Pottery on the Hill.  Photo credit: Dan Finnegan. Courtesy Hill Center.

Raku firing uses a specialty kiln which facilitates a low temperature firing process to create vibrant colors.  Historians trace the origin of Raku to 1550s Japan.  Sixteenth Century Zen Buddhist masters mention the use of Raku, which literally means “happiness in the accident” in Japanese. The monks preferred this use of stoneware for tea ceremonies as the aesthetic embodies the Buddhist qualities of simplicity and naturalness. The process takes on a magical form in as much as all four elements–earth, fire, air and water–come together to create stoneware.

In the United States, contemporary raku methods differ slightly from the Japanese ones as they involve the removal of pottery while bright red and combining it with materials that ignite the clay, such as sawdust or paper. The lack of oxygen during the combustion process creates cracks and intensely rich colors.

“The raku firing during Pottery on the Hill represents a chance for the community to make something unique. They can glaze or paint their pot, then watch it transform before their eyes,” says Pottery on the Hill co-organizer Dan Finnegan. “Creating this kind of art allows visitors to step into the shoes of a potter for just a brief moment to experience the excitement and anticipation of the finished product.”

New this year, on Sunday, people who cannot attend the expo who would like to purchase pots, may shop virtually via FaceTime. To schedule an appointment to FaceTime “shop”, email potteryonthehill@hillcenterdc.org.

Bandana Pottery speaks to guests. Photo credit: Djenno Bacvic. Courtesy Hill Center.


Hill Center is located in the historic Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just one block from the Eastern Market metro.  Visit them online at www.hillcenterdc.org or www.poertyonthehilldc.org