Bright Leaf Pottery was established in 2008 as a working studio for educational and practical use. It is operated out of Phyllis Turnham's home in Columbia Heights, Washington, DC.
Learning how to throw on and use the wheel is the main emphasis at Bright Leaf Pottery. Classes are offered for novice potters and for those who want to develop their studio skills. Open Studio is available for experienced potters; you may use Bright Leaf's wheels, glazes, and electric kiln. Phyllis does all bisque and glaze firings herself; firings are typically executed two to three times per month.
Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7-9 PM. Both classes are currently full. Due to overwhelming demand I have closed the waiting list (as of December 2022) for the unforeseen future.
Since I do not conduct typical 8-week, or 10-week, classes during any calendar year, it is sometimes years before there is space for a new potter joining the studio. Because so many class members decide to stay on after their introductory 6 weeks class, turnover is very infrequent.
New students beginning in the studio commit to a six week session, which costs $120 and includes the use of studio tools, glazes, firings, and one 25-pound bag of stoneware clay. At the end of the initial six weeks, the new potter may pay monthly fees to continue as long as they wish at Bright Leaf Pottery.
Open Studio is available for experienced potters to work on their own on Wednesday evenings, 7-9 PM, and is also currently full.
I first threw on the wheel in the late 1980's at my friend Claudia Cartee's pottery studio, which had an electric wheel. As I remember it, Claudia had to help me center anything I attempted to throw. While I enjoyed the end result of my first efforts at throwing pottery -- the final product generally being a smallish cereal bowl -- I look back now and realize that those casual sessions at Claudia's studio were the beginning of discovering my love for the sensation of clay and slip on my fingers and the quiet concentration required while throwing on a wheel. As the years went by, I learned to "feel one with the clay" and I have learned to enjoy communal throwing sessions as well as solitary time at the wheel.
I throw on a handmade kick-wheel, which I first learned at Scottie Allen's studio in Maryland. I began throwing at Scottie's in the fall of 1995. Now I use the kick-wheel at her studio as well as at my home studio in Washington, DC.
At Scottie's we glaze for Cone 10 reduction firings but here at Bright Leaf Pottery I glaze Cone 6, or 7, oxidation firings in my electric kiln.
All of my functional stoneware is lead-free, food-safe, microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe.
I have found that I prefer a certain unevenness in my work, a little wabi sabi, a wrinkle here or there. I am not looking for the perfect, symmetrical bowl; I want to make a bowl that feels comfortable in my hands. I want my pots to have a feeling of timelessness, earthiness, and practicality. Look at the pots in the Gallery and you will see what I mean!
1252 Columbia Road NW Washington DC