Source: Sherman Publications

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Three decades: Red Pine Pottery & Twigs

by David Fleet

May 29, 2013

Groveland Twp.- To some, they're renegade willow saplings that grow randomly along roadways.

But to Sue Kolb, they're nature's palette when meticulously woven, revealing artwork that she calls her passion.

"It's a river—it just won't stop," said Kolb, owner of Red Pine Pottery & Twigs, 345 Wolfe Road. "I do art because it's a passion inside me. I have to get out there and create."

Kolb said she is inspired by nature in her work. Her studio and home overlook a pond and are located on 14 acres of woodlands featuring red pines. It is here that she will display numerous pieces of pottery and furniture made of willow and cedar when she and her husband celebrate the 30th anniversary of Red Pine Pottery & Twigs with a two-weekend summer sale.

The sale is planned for 10 a.m.-5 p.m., June 7-9 and June 14-16.

"When I'm out driving, I start looking for 'ditch willow' growing along the road," she said.

The small trees, which are very pliable and considered waste trees to some, are turned into works of art.

About 13 years ago, Kolb began making twig furniture, using the small willow to create chairs, tables, and benches. She patterns her twig work after artist Clifton Monteith who has been pushing the boundaries of furniture design through bending willow.

"Making a chair takes a week of intensive work," she said. "I get the wood and have to use it within four to five days while it's bendable."

Among the the bunches of fresh olive-colored willow in her township workshop are an assortment of contemporary pottery pieces, including bowls, vases, and mugs lining shelves. In a room at the back, Kolb opens her kiln, still warm and full of more high-fired stoneware that will be on display at the sale.

Kolb enrolled in a pottery class while in college in Canada and when she moved back to the U.S., her father bought a potter's wheel and kiln for her. She has been creating pottery for nearly 40 years now and has taken pottery classes across the country. In 1983, she started Red Pine Pottery and displayed pieces of her work at various art fairs.

Now three decades later her craft has produced a variety of nature-inspired work.

"I hope 100 years from now, if someone happens to find my studio here they will know a potter once lived here," she said.

Red Pine Pine Pottery & Twigs 248-736-9201 or redpinepottery&twigs.com