As I woke up and got dressed Friday morning I had no idea what I was in for. I was out the door by 8 am headed towards Peter’s Valley in Layton, New Jersey. I don’t know if there was magic in the air that morning or what, but everything was happy about my journey.
As I arrived I noticed all of the beautiful old architecture and landscaping. Each little building looked more inviting than the last. I walked into the ceramic studio and found myself a wheel. A few moments later, Robbie Lobell, the instructor of the workshop entered. She waited for everyone to gather and started telling us a little bit about her background which is truly AMAZING!
Her self-taught skills in ceramics lead her to meeting and then becoming a beloved student of Mikhail Zakin. The way she spoke about their bond was very inspiring. Knowing that pottery was the root of an amazing friendship made me smile and think of all the wonderful friends I’ve made thus far, and all the friends I will make in the future. But back to Robbie. Mikhail Zakin then introduced Robbie to Karen Karnes. The moment she said Karen’s name I got more excited than I already was! Marywood’s treasure, Matt Povse, had mentioned Karnes to me before. When Matt tells me something, whether it’s a good potter’s name or a new technique, I never doubt it. He is very skilled and one of my pottery heroes. So, the fact that Karnes mentored Robbie was a big deal to me!
Robbie was trained by amazing potters. She is an established business woman that specializes in flameware—cooking pots are made with a “flameproof” clay that is designed to withstand extreme temperatures. She is very neat and clean in everything she does. Her tedious efforts on each and every pot truly show. But what makes her so special is how humble she is. Someone with her knowledge could easily feel elite teaching less experienced potters but her kindhearted ways made everyone feel comfortable to ask anything that came to mind. She is very influential but doesn’t force her ideas on you. She built a bond with each person in the class and encouraged us to keep in touch with her!
I hope I stressed enough how amazing I think she is. I think it’s so important as a growing artist to go out and meet new people. I hope no matter what your area of interest is you can find a Peter’s Valley School of Craft workshop! It is a magical little valley filled with so many amazingly skilled people.
On another note, Robbie shared her special recipes for flameware clay and glazes! Myself and the other Marywood students that attended the workshop are excited to try the recipe! And I can assure you that will have its own blog post in the future!
All of Robbie Lobell’s information can be found at http://www.cookonclay.com. It’s really worth a few minutes to check out the website. And if you’ve been looking for some phenomenal cookware, you’re welcome!