Brooklin ceramicist Odette Heideman refines the rim of a vase in her studio. The clay she uses, which is rich in iron, comes from Star, N.C. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY JENNIFER OSBORN

Pandemic spurs library to show and sell artists’ clay creations


BROOKLIN — It was very much by chance that Odette Heideman fell into the craft of making pottery.

For years, the Naskeag Point Road resident explained, her husband had given her gift certificates for facials and massages that went unused. Heideman floated an idea of something she might like to do, so he gave her a gift certificate for six lessons with a potter in Sag Harbor, N.Y., where they used to live.

Heideman, who had been working as a literary editor, took the classes.

“I was hooked,” she said. Then the San Francisco native decided to get serious about the craft. So, she embarked on a two-year course of study at Clay College in Stoke on Trent, England, where she learned about materials and the basics of having a studio. That was 2018-2019.

Cathy Rees is among the featured potters in the Friend Memorial Library’s art show through December. All the highlighted pieces are for sale.

Now, this holiday season, Friend Memorial Library is hosting an exhibit of Heideman’s pottery (O. Atélier) and that of six other local potters. Everything is for sale.

Friend Memorial Library Director Ann-Margaret Thomas thought a show would be a good way to promote the work of Brooklin artists since sales have been stymied by the COIVD-19 pandemic.

“This year, with the current situation, we wanted to help them sell their pottery for the holidays,” Thomas said. “For this reason, the exhibit will run through the end of December and people who wish to purchase pottery may do so at any time during the exhibition.” As pieces sell, the featured artwork is replenished.

“So far the reception is excellent,” said Thomas. “Patrons who come into the library have given rave reviews and even did some shopping.”

Heideman and her husband, who is a professional photographer, moved to Maine three years ago. That was after the potter’s good friend Adele Ursone, who lives in Sedgwick, had campaigned for her to visit for many years and even set up an appointment with a real estate agent before her arrival.

Heideman credits Brooksville potter Scott Goldberg for teaching her how to throw clay before she attended Clay College in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

“It took eight years to get you here, so we’re going to look at some houses,” she recalled Ursone telling her.

The couple had considered moving to Ojai, Calif., but they’re glad they chose Brooklin, which has been welcoming.

It takes a village to create art. It was Brooksville potter Scott Goldberg who taught Heideman how to throw clay before she attended Clay College. Then, Blue Hill potter Mark Bell spent an hour on the phone with her helping to troubleshoot an issue with her kiln.

“The community of potters here is really lovely,” Heideman said.

Heideman uses clay from Star, N.C., which contains a lot of iron. She fires the pieces in a soda (bicarbonate) kiln.

“It makes a sheen or a glaze,” she said. “It sort of pits the glaze a little bit because it’s corrosive.”

You can also see Heideman’s work on her website,, and in two upcoming publications, including the newly published lifestyle book “The Cannabis Apothecary” by Laurie Wolf (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2020). Her studio is featured in the upcoming publication “A House in Maine” by Maura McEvoy and Basha Burwell (Vendome Press, 2021).

“This was going to be my year to start producing for sale,” Heideman said. She was able to sell one large piece so far through the Friend Memorial exhibit. Incidentally, the piece was bought by a Jackson Hole, Wyo., interior designer for a home in New York. A prop stylist had spotted the piece and suggested it to the designer.

Ceramicist and teacher Lynn Curran uses a technique called sgraffito to scratch a design on a piece’s clay surface.

Friend Memorial Library’s exhibit also includes the work of Lynn Curran, who has been making pottery since she was a teenager. Curran owns Random Pottery, where pre-pandemic she taught pottery and art.

“Pottery offers me a creative outlet and comforts my soul,” Curran said. “It’s a wonderful mix of problem-solving, art, craft, methods and chemistry…like no other art form. Pottery enables me to be a maker of functional art and it allows me solace. Working with clay is a form of play while it also is a form of skill, quite a wonderful activity.”

Plant life is an inspiration behind’s Lila Balch’s work. You’ll find bowls that she created using a roller to imprint a leaf pattern. Then the pieces are subject to rounds of firing. Balch uses an electric kiln.

Plants and their distinctive forms are an inspiration for Lila Balch ‘s pottery.

After the pieces dry for about a week, the firing begins.

“After a week, it probably is ready for what we call bisque firing, which is a lower-temperature firing, in preparation for the application of the glaze, which then is ready for the final firing at 2,300 degrees F,” Balch explained. “This firing will take about 10 hours in our electric kiln. After allowing the kiln to cool, to about 100 degrees F, it is ready to be unloaded from the kiln. At this point, one is holding one’s breath that all the pieces being fired behaved well.”

The show also features the work of Martha Martin of Riverside Pottery in Sedgwick. Martin first worked with clay as a teenager when she took a recreation department ceramics class in Lexington, Mass. Her interest in ceramics was rekindled after retiring from teaching English in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She has studied pottery with Jamin Eldredge of Cape Cod and Curran, with whom she shares studio space. Martin said she feels great gratitude to Curran and the local community for being so supportive. Her pieces for sale include luminaries for tea candles.

Nancy Morris also has artful, but functional work in the exhibit such as a teapot, mugs, bowls, plates, vases and business card holders.

“I’m mindful not only of how your favorite daily mug looks, but also how it feels in your hand and on your lip,” she said. “I like crafting a beautiful, covered serving dish that enhances that special meal. Water and flow inspire my recent color choices and pottery surfaces. I’m obsessed with inventing glazes that react with serendipity in my electric kiln and express my fascination with water.”

Nature inspires Cathy Rees’ work, which includes foliage lamps, necklaces, buttons, ornaments, floral luminaries, vases and plates.

Rees says she always has had her hands in the mud whether in the garden or her clay studio. Rees has studied ecology and her work in parks, forests and in the landscaping field has influenced her pottery.

Some fine pieces of pottery are better displayed out of reach of clumsy hands. Elsie Sealander addresses the issue through her hanging wall pottery. She, too, is moved by the native flora and fauna in her immediate surroundings.

“The plants and animals that have been in my life have greatly influenced my work in clay,” Sealander said. “Whether they be my own pets and plants or animals that have visited my garden or plants and animals I have seen on hikes or trips, they all play a role.”

Elsewhere in the Friend Library, a few non-ceramic creations also are on view. They include fabric wall hangings by Christine Leith of Sedgwick, wooden lamps by Louis Charlet and handmade paper lampshades by Gigi Sarsfield.

To learn more about the show, call 359-2276 or visit




Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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