The artists at NBC Pottery in Angwin are holding their third annual studio sale Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5-6.

Nikki and Will Calnan – the husband and wife team at NBC Pottery – will have their entire inventory of works on sale: excellent examples of custom-crafted ceramics that define the border between “Fine Art” and fine ceramic craftsmanship.

A walk through the NBC Pottery studio is an adventure worth experiencing all on its own. Last week, surrounded by tables of earthenware in various stages of completion, the team was busy getting everything ready for the sale. Visually, there is both the expected, and unexpected: beautiful cups laid out in preparation to firing; dishes and trays of organic shape; “belly bowls” and so much more.

According to Nikki Calnan, their motivation is to make pieces that are beautiful, functional, and affordable. Prices start at $25 and others that cost thousands more.

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NBC Pottery is well known in the valley, with a list of clients that includes some of the most renowned restaurants and wineries, and Will Calnan believes that part of the reason for their success is in the organic designs and forms which they discover.

Nikki Calnan remembered the events which led her to these designs – a fortuitous “accident” she said, when she was studying for her MFA in San Jose. “I was working with a lot of artists who were more into sculpture – good artists, but people who didn’t understand pottery. So when I stumbled upon these organic forms – almost by accident — my professors actually tried to discourage me. They didn’t get it. But my friends really seemed to like them, and would buy them. And my thoughts about these shapes evolved into an insight about how people seem to relate to very organic pieces.”

Will Calnan, whose studies were originally focused on all mediums of art, became fascinated with ceramics at the same time that he and Nikki began their relationship. His fine arts approach to ceramics construction is a near perfect creative counter balance to Nikki’s deep and intense pottery skills. Their studio is a true partnership that is replete with examples in which their mutual craftsmanship reflects the energy and the inspiration of a singular creative process they have achieved.

For instance, Nikki has created “Belly Bowls”: bowls that are formed first in plaster from the outlines of pregnant women’s tummies and then used to create ceramic bowls beautifully glazed in vibrant colors. Clearly, each is as unique as the woman and child from which they are created. Or Will’s ceramic hand painted stools or his beautiful six foot standing “urn” – composed of individually “socketed” cylinders painted with a wilderness motifs.

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Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.

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