WINCHESTER - Gail Ockerbloom, Winchester resident and owner of Studio on the Common, is opening a new pottery studio in town called Pottery on the Common which is set to open on July 5. This studio will offer ceramics and pottery instruction for both kids and adults along with open studio time. Pottery on the Common will also be available for parties and group events. Currently, this is the only pottery studio in Winchester.
Studio on the Common is three businesses, each built around brand pillars of Community, Connection, and Creativity. The three businesses are Gifts on the Common, Art on the Common, and now Pottery on the Common. Their gift shop first opened in 2015 and it features beautiful gifts for the home, brides, grads, dads, babies, hostess gifts, women, and men.
Ockerbloom and her sister Cathy Parker curate the shop keeping in mind that everyone is trying to reduce their "stuff" so the gifts selected are something that would be a joy to receive and just as importantly, a joy to give. The gift shop sells artisan products like Simon Pearce blown glass and gorgeous art tiles made of fused glass on copper by artist Houston Llew; work of local artists like the beautiful paintings of Carolyn Latanisian and leading brands like Scout Bags, Mariposa, and Mudpie.
Many of their products "give back" to important charitable causes and they donate proceeds from the store and host community events under their charitable brand, Create Good.
Art on the Common opened up shortly after the shop in 2016 and has been a hive of creativity on the common ever since with adult and children's classes and summer programs across all artistic mediums including painting, drawing, Shibori Japanese dyeing, pottery, knitting and crocheting, mosaics, etc.
They have an amazing art director, Jessica Clark, also known as the Pickle Princess, and she is incredibly talented and a Pied Piper to the kids. They have former students working as counselors in training in the summer programs and hire local kids as counselors and support staff.
The newest business is Pottery on the Common. They have been doing pottery for the last few years in the art studio and it has become extremely popular, so when space opened up right next door they could not resist a chance to establish a small but fully functioning pottery studio.
Ockerbloom left the corporate world six years ago to start Studio on the Common and has not looked back since. Her grandfather, who co-owned a summer camp in Holliston, Massachusetts, Camp Patoma, was her inspiration for the studio. She loved camp, especially all the artistic activities and the sense of community and camaraderie that being part of a camp affords.
She formerly had a busy career working in high tech, initially at small start-ups and then in very large organizations. She eventually left tech and spent another four years running marketing and strategy for a large non-profit. But in the back of her mind, she always wanted to return to her community and build something from the ground up that was small, special, and perhaps more of a work of heart.
Her kids were then off to college and when she saw the space in Winchester she knew it was time. She does not miss the corporate world at this time in her life. Building something in the community that offered her so much over the years is like coming full circle, and it just feels right.
Before COVID-19 there was a growing trend throughout the U.S. People were seeking creative outlets where they can relax, have fun and disconnect from their phones, computers, and daily stresses. Ockerbloom noted that pottery is the perfect antidote to electronic devices and hectic schedules.
She commented that the wheel is fun for both adults and children and it gives you the chance to be messy and focused on the sheer joy of creating. To grow their program, they needed a dedicated space for the kilns, the mess, and more wheels which is what they are grateful to have now.
The new studio will hold classes for both children and adults. In the fall they hope to create a schedule for Open Studios where those who wish to continue developing their skills can come in and throw, glaze, fire, etc., independently. These classes will be small and intimate. The full set of offers can be found on their website www.studioonthecommon.com.
For people that have no experience in any type of pottery, Ockerbloom says that they will be gentle and enthusiastic! For adults, they can try a Sip and Spin which is two evenings, one week apart. They will first learn how to throw, and at the second class, their cured pieces can be trimmed and sanded. They will be taught how to do both while sipping wine or sparkling water. For kids, their summer programs give them a week of learning, creating, and messy fun.
Since Winchester has recently been recognized by the state as a Cultural District, Ockerbloom is excited to contribute with their own little “Cultural Corner on the Common.” She mostly is looking forward to more chances for members of the community to gather, connect and create.