Shawnee Hills Pottery Trail planning to welcome visitors

The third annual Shawnee Hills Pottery Trail event is planned Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, in Southern Illinois. Hours are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Eleven  potters will be featured on the trail. The self-guided driving/biking trail will include seven stops and will go through Jackson and Union counties.

The event is open and free for everyone and will give the public a chance to interact with potters, to see the studios and  to view demonstrations. 

Pottery also will be available for sale at each stop. A Pottery Trail Passport will be available. Having a stamp from each stop on the trail will give the holder a chance to win free pottery.  

The Shawnee Hills Pottery Trail website, which includes information about each of the potters and maps of the trail, can be found at; information also is available on facebook: 

The potters who will be featured on the trail include Dan Johnson, Steve Grimmer, Karen Fiorino, Harris Deller, Sam Bates, Stephanie Dukat, Darby Ortolano, Gene and Beth Smout, Liston Vance and Rob Lorenz. 

Each potter brings his or her unique style and firing technique to the creation of their works. 

Harris Deller creates functional and decorative porcelain which the potter said “is made to enhance your enjoyment and pleasure in daily life.”

Rob Lorenz fires in a wood and soda kiln. “I like illustrations and telling stories, so I put illustrations and stories on the pots I make,” he said. 

Karen Fiorino uses the majolica technique to produce her brightly colored bowls, mugs and vessels. “Nature inspires me, from the smallest to the largest of creatures: from the colors of geological formations to the colors of the sunrise and sunset,” she said. 

Darby Ortolano said she “loves making colorful and engaging pots for every day use.” Her sculptural work combines floral and landscape in textured, quiet forms.

Steve Grimmer concentrates his work on making functional pottery for everyday use. “Not only are pots useful through their physical function, they take integral part in and aesthetically enrich the most important ritual of daily life: that of nourishing self and others,” he said.  

Dan Johnson said he makes both functional and sculptural works. “The whole process, from digging clay out of the hills to forming, glazing and firing and finally living with and using a piece is both creatively challenging and part of striving for a full life.”

Stephanie Dukat said she feels pottery connects the user with an experience through daily use. In each use, favorites are developed through pattern, print, color, and the weight of the object. “I want my work to be that appealing object in the cabinet you seek out.”  

Sam Bates creates functional pottery and sculptures in high-fire stoneware, working mainly on the wheel. He crafts pieces with organic and unplanned forms and surfaces that balance functionality with personality. 

“The contrasting nature of clay is mesmerizing: It can be formed instantly by hand then preserved permanently by a high temperature. Momentary decisions are etched in stone, and the effects of a single touch can last for hundreds of years, embedded in the work. I continue to be fascinated by the properties of my chosen medium,” Bates said.

Gene and Beth Smout work together to create their pieces. They said they have worked in ceramics collaboratively and independently throughout their 43 years of marriage.”

Liston Vance says, “I am an aspiring potter making functional, wood-fired pots. If it doesn’t feel good to the hand or mouth, I won’t make it. Currently, I am trying to simplify my work and make more authentic, honest pottery that does not seem over-thought or contrived.”



The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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