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Four Highland Park homes fired up for pottery tour

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Potter Joseph Delphia at the pottery studio at the Union Project with some of his finished works on Thursday December 5, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Potter Joseph Delphia works on a bowl on the pottery wheel at the Union Project on Thursday December 5, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Potter Joseph Delphia works on a bowl on the pottery wheel at the studio in the Union Project on Thursday December 5, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Potter Joseph Delphia at the pottery studio at the Union Project on Thursday December 5, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Potter Joseph Delphia prepares to finish a bowl at the pottery studio at the Union Project on Thursday December 5, 2013.

All five of the stops on this weekend's pottery tour will be in Pittsburgh's Highland Park neighborhood.

Coincidence?

“That's the funny thing: When the potters realized literally how many Highland Park neighbors were potters, it made sense to have this walkable tour,” says Michelle Clesse, communications and development manager for Union Project, an artists organization.

“If our studio is drawing potters in, maybe it draws (other) people,” Clesse says.

The Highland Park Pottery Tour, a self-guided walking tour held Dec. 7 and 8, takes visitors to the Union Project four potters' houses, where the homeowner and one or two other potters will showcase their work, usually in two to three rooms in the first floor. You can buy pottery pieces — plates, vases, pots, cups and the like — straight from the artists. A total of 18 artists are participating.

Potters' wares include “anything from something you would drink coffee out of to something you would serve Thanksgiving dinner from,” Clesse says.

The tour, which has drawn around 150 people during each of its first two years, gives visitors a good hometown opportunity, Clesse says.

“For visitors, it's a chance to buy locally, which is a very exciting thing right now,” she says. “It's more than just buying ... for your kitchen: You get to buy it where it is.

“You get to meet the potter, and ask how they made it and fired it,” Clesse says. “It's a very intimate buying experience to be able to go into people's homes like that.”

Joseph Delphia, one of the homeowners on the tour, agrees. He creates his mostly tableware pottery a wood-fired kiln at Union Project and a shared studio in Wilkinsburg. Delphia — a Columbus native who earned his ceramics degree in 2007 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio — has been doing pottery since he was a kid. Outside of creating his art, Delphia teaches studio art classes at Community College of Allegheny County.

“Pittsburgh is a wonderful city for the arts,” says Delphia, 30. “There's a different kind of energy that can happen when you invite people into your home to see your work. ... It's always such a positive atmosphere.

His home “will look like a home that's full of pots,” he says, “but it's still very much a home.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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