As new members of our Chatham County community, Chatham Park is powering our Go See This series this year because art is an integral part of Chatham County’s identity. They join us in inviting you to Go See This . . .
As we inch closer to the holidays and continue to shop for gifts for our loved ones, it is critical that we keep our local artists in mind when thinking about where to shop. Many of our local artists are struggling, and they’re in need of our patronage this holiday season.
“Everything is very different,” notes Carol Hewitt, who runs the business side of Mark Hewitt’s pottery studio. “We no longer have two apprentices working here. We cancelled the spring firing and kiln opening. We now plan to only fire a kiln load of pots twice a year, instead of three times a year.”
Their summer kiln event, which historically drew large crowds and long lines, was a little bit different this year in order to make it safe for everyone. “The summer kiln opening was done entirely by appointment,” notes Carol. “We had only about one-third as many people visit as we’ve had at past kiln openings. We learned we could definitely do this safely, given our barn and grounds. The swings were very popular, as most playgrounds were still closed. We added a tent and doubled the size of the checkout so the customer and cashier are six feet apart and outside. We had hand sanitizer and masks handy, and we required face coverings. People loved it. There were no crowds or lines, we had a barn full of beautiful pots, and customers received plenty of personalized attention. I called it a success.”
Based on the success of the summer opening, Mark and Carol decided to make a few changes for the holiday kiln opening. “We got the tent again, we got a better calendar app to use this time, and we fired the kiln earlier in November so we could open for Thanksgiving weekend. The appointments filled up fast on Black Friday, with a limit of five people/pod per hour. Again, swings were busy, as there were a number of families, which we greatly enjoy.”
Carol has also begun to amplify their social media presence and online sales so that people can now shop for Mark’s pottery from the safety of their own homes. But, as Carol notes, it’s not been without a learning curve. “We’ve gotten more creative with marketing. We’ve learned how to use Instagram, found free calendars and listservs, and have run more ads than usual. We’ve also sent out our usual postcards and newsletters, which have also driven people to the new online store, which we built in April. People from all over the country (and world — we just shipped two mugs to Germany) are now ordering pottery through the site. The pandemic pushed us into creating the online store, and it has been a silver lining in this difficult time. We will reap the benefits for as long as we stay in business, which I expect to be many more years.”
Interested in buying some of Mark’s pottery as a holiday gift? There are gift cards on the online store for faraway friends and family. If you missed going over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, rest assured that appointments are still available for times this month, including all day on Saturday. “Random visitors have always stopped by over the years, but most people think we’re open only for kiln openings, which is not true. We have always had appointments for people looking for a gift, or who had family in town and wanted to show them the pottery.” They are ready for last minute shoppers through the 23rd!
Book a visit today and support one of our talented local potters!
- What: Mark Hewitt kiln opening
- Where: 424 Johnny Burke Rd, Pittsboro
- When: Appointments available Thanksgiving weekend through December 23rd at https://calendly.com/markhewittpottery
- Cost: Free
- For more information, to book a visit or shop online, visit the studio’s website