The shop will be open late 6-9 pm on First Friday June 3. This month’s theme is Bicycle Night, so ride your bike to Downtown Lakeland and enjoy the fun family atmosphere of First Friday. Learn about biking trails throughout the city and efforts to increase bike racks in Downtown. Plus, there will be trick bike demos on Kentucky Avenue!
These photos were taken at last year's event by Tammy Wright aka the Lakeland Pedaller. Check the Lakeland Pedaller column on the Lakeland Local blog to find out more about biking in Lakeland.
We have lots of new work by American potters to share this month. New arrivals include Popcorn Studios, Dock 6, Kent Follette, Wellman and Welsch, and San Antonio. Now is a great time to add to your collection of these potters while we have a great selection of their work. Plus, we are introducing a new potter, Palms Up Pottery from New Smyrna Beach. Stop in Brooke Pottery 6-9 pm on First Friday and enjoy a taste of wine & cheese or juice & cookies while you shop.
The shop will be closed Sunday and Monday, May 29-30, in observance of Memorial Day. We will reopen on Tuesday at 9 am.
June 3 Update: That’s it for the Raku Fish. They have all found good homes!
It nearly breaks our hearts to announce that the Ellsworth Raku Fish is an endangered species. Rick Ellsworth and Paula Kenworthy of Mountain River Arts recently announced their retirement, and Brooke Pottery was lucky enough to get some of their very last Raku Fish hanging ornaments.
Brooke Pottery has carried these wonderful, whimsical clay creations since Gloria Brooke started the shop in 1988. Gloria met the Ellsworths at an art show in Washington State, and the Raku Fish have been offered at Brooke Pottery ever since. Whether slim or round, with puckered lips or wide-mouth grins, the hanging clay ornaments have been a tremendous hit with customers over the years. Orca whales and puffin birds in a similar style debuted in the 2000′s but the original Raku Fish is the most beloved.
History of the Raku Fish from an article by Stephen Reed published in The Ledger, May 1991:
The fish are a strange success story for the Ellsworths, who have built a business around them. In 1975, Sharon and Rick Ellsworth were making more serious pottery when, during a late-night rush to meed a production deadline, they got a little giddy.
“We were just being silly one night,” Sharon Ellsworth said. “We just started playing around, not with the purpose of making anything.” From a glob of clay on the potter’s wheel, “someone pinched a face. And somebody else added eyeballs. All of a sudden, we had this stupid little face.” Fins were added and a booming business was….hatched.
The raku fish are formed on a potter’s wheel from soft white clay, starting with a small vase-like structure. Their characteristic grins and puts are shaped with a pinch of the fingers. Small, rolled eyes and clay-slab fins are added. After an initial firing in an electric kiln and the addition of some bright spots of yellow, green, blue or red glaze, the fish are fired in an outdoor gas kiln at 2,000 degrees. They are removed from the kiln with tongs and settled on a bed of dried oats, which smolder to give the creatures a smudged appearance.
The process takes about two weeks, and each handmade fish is one of a kind. While Rick and Paula hope to find another artist to carry on the Ellsworth Raku Fish designs, we certainly will miss their indelible mark on these special clay ornaments. Their Raku Fish have brought amusement and joy to hundreds of people around the world, including many Lakeland residents and visitors. Thank you for sharing your talents with us over the past twenty-three years!