Profile: Sycamore Pottery

Moving to a new place is always a little scarey, but as soon as I met Pam and Ren Parziale, I knew that I’d be just fine in my new home community.  Fast-forward seven years, and the Sycamore Potters have become not only phenomenal community and mentors, but also good friends.  We share a love for truly functional pots, delicious regional homemade food, and swapping stories over a glass of wine.

Pam and Ren are the duo behind Sycamore Pottery.  They are the living bridge between the historical potters who roamed these hills in the previous centuries, and the future young makers coming aboard.  With their foundational understanding of the importance of handmade functional pottery, and their deep aesthetic drive for a beautiful life well lived, they bring passion and flavor to our contemporary times.

Pam Parziale: Sycamore Pottery


Their location, tucked in a woody hillside outside of Leetown, is a piece of art that they created together, from planting the trees that now tower over their open spaces, to building the structures and kilns that make up their work and lives.  Natural harmony is the thread through all that they do….take a walk around their place and you see their pots and brushwork details all around them.

Ren w porcelain bowl IMG_2701

While Pam and Ren are the furthest away (of the Potomac Clay Weekend studios) from the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, they are just a short jaunt from the Opequon Creek, which is a direct tributary into the Potomac River.  So take a detour during Potomac Clay Weekend to see one of the Potomac Watershed tributaries, and stop in to meet two amazing potters and devoted community members.  You won’t be sorry you did.  And, yes, they do laugh most of the time. (wink)



Rambling: Connecting Community

Community:  the people around us.  As a maker, an artist, my community includes those who make, and those who understand the connection and value in handmade functional things.  We make them, use them, appreciate them, and go out of our way to explore this human-ness that urges us to turn one thing into another, over and over again, a lump of earth into a cup, a tree limb into utensils, a thought into a well-crafted story.  Honing these skills in community brings richness to our lives, if we are open to it.

Potomac Leaves in Circle

Community: the place where we exist.  The place on this planet where our lives have set roots, the land from where we make and walk and cook and talk and dream, the Potomac Watershed. State lines are arbitrary; this watershed is real, rich with the tangible. We can know our place by the bend in the river, the sycamore with bear claw marks, the cave in the jagged limestone bluff.   Water ties us together, from fields and crops to fracking and coal slurry leaks.  The C&O Canal, running from Ohio to the District of Columbia, becomes the Highway along our Waterway, the Potomac River.

Connection:  Makers blend ‘Community the Place’ and ‘Community the People’.  What and how we make is deeply connected to where we make.  We understand that cups made from the earth we walk on tie us closer to this earth we walk on.  Chairs made from the trees around us bond us to these trees.  The depth of living is unlimited when we continue to connect, deeper and deeper, with the world around us, both by paying attention to the natural world, and by bringing that natural attention into our lives. Cultivating this sense of place is the deepest art of living. As a local maker, I wander these fields and waterways for inspiration and connection.  When we appreciate and use the work of our local makers, we are brought closer, day after day, to our place, our watershed, to the Potomac’s quiet meander and rock-rumbling rapids, the wood thrush calling, the sycamore’s twisted limbs.

Potomac Clay Weekend is one small weekend celebrating these connections.  Go outside.  Hike the Appalachian Trail.  Walk/bike/kayak the Potomac River and C&O Canal.  Hear the river’s voice change mile by mile.  Listen for the thrush.  Stop for a moment to take a close look at the Virginia Bluebells.  Go out of your way to visit a local maker.  Touch the clay.  Talk with and get to know your community.  Seek out local.

There is a difference. You’ll see it in the pots we make. The river and the trails will become familiar to you.  This beautiful, wild and wonderful time and place is yours.  Embrace it.

Potomac Rock Balance

Second Annual Potomac Clay Weekend: April 25 & 26, 2015