About the Name
The Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts was once known as the Asparagus Valley because it was one of the largest producers of asparagus in the country. That is until the late 1970s when a blight overtook all the asparagus grown here. At this time a group of potters decided to start a potters guild and wanted an interesting name.
The guild has now been going strong for over 4 decades!
Some History from Founding Member Michael Cohen
I moved to the valley in 1973 and by 1976 I had met most of the potters here. I thought that it would be really good for a group of professional potters to meet several times a year to share information, help each other, and have a social network. I contacted about eight potters who were all very enthusiastic about the idea. We would have a pot luck supper and see if we could form a guild. The first meeting was at my house in August 1976 and was a great success.
We all enjoyed the opportunity to get out of our studios, learn from each other, and have a wonderful meal. We made plans for the next meeting, and the next, and the next. The Pioneer Valley had a nickname. “Asparagus Valley” and so I named the group “The Asparagus Valley Potters Guild”
Over the years the group grew as new potters were invited in. The numbers, which at one time added up to 50, became unmanageable because so many people showed up at meetings, too many for an average size house. We then started an application process which limited members to those who made most of their living from the sale of their work. Right now we have 35 members who range in age from the mid 20’s to the mid 70’s. Between 10 and 20 potters usually come to a meeting. We even have a member who is a glassblower who was formerly a potter.
Over the years there have been about 75 potters who have been members. Potters have come and gone. Some have been here from the beginning and others have moved away or went into other professions.
We have had several group shows and have sponsored many professional workshops. A “pottery trail” was started a few years ago and has become an annual event. Many of us have open studio sales in the Spring and Winter.
There is a connection between making pots and cooking and there are many first class cooks in the group. The pot luck meals have become gourmet dinners enjoyed by all. After the meal we get down to “business.” We discuss shows we have seen or been in, catalogs are passed around, glaze and firing problems are brought up, solutions to business practices worked out, we talk about art and aesthetics, good galleries, bad galleries, and the final question, “When and where is the next meeting?”
Our studios are spread out all over the Valley but in a pinch you can always borrow a cup of Spodumene.