Buyers leave happy from Mad Potters Teapot Extravaganza

VERO BEACH — The brisk nip in the air couldn’t keep the artists, art lovers and tea fanciers away from the third annual Mad Potters Teapot Extravaganza reception, held at the historic Vero Beach Theatre Plaza and Lobby.  Within the first few minutes the delightful, hand-made pieces, crafted by fourteen area potters, were quickly being snatched up by savvy early buyers. From fanciful to functional, teeny tiny to tremendous, colorful to conservative – there were teapots to suit all tastes, as the size and scope of the event continues to increase.

“There is so much more creativity than we’ve had in the past,” said Maria Sparsis, owner of Tea and Chi which co-sponsored the event with Sean Clinton Creative Services, Inc.

“There is such a variety of skills levels.  Some have been doing this for months, and some for decades,” added Sparsis.  “We call ourselves a loose association of mad potters.  As long as you’ve made a teapot, you’re welcome to participate.”

Sparsis, a gifted potter herself, was quick to praise the works of her fellow artists.  Pointing to a few of the humorous, brightly colorful pieces crafted by Karen “Keko” Ekonomou she explained, “She decorates cakes and uses some of the same talents to come up with her whimsical figurines.  The cakes are just as colorful and fun as her pottery.”

“I just want to see people smile, said Ekonomou. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Of Sean Clinton’s intricately detailed pieces Sparsis said, “I just don’t know how he can make things that delicate.  And Richard Pierce’s pieces are just magnificent.”

New potter Kim Mayo had several creative pieces, including a three-piece Mad Hatter sculpture, complete with a high teapot as a hat.  “She’s only been taking classes for six months,” said Sparsis.  “She is a meticulous and methodical worker.”

While many of the artists have their own studios at home, they often gather at the Vero Beach Museum of Art to use the facilities, take classes, share ideas and enjoy the camaraderie.

Frequent Museum volunteers Cathy Walker and Marie Stiefel were pleased with their finds; for Walker a small teapot with a sweet little person on top of the lid made by Coco Martin, and for Stiefel one of Keko’s imaginative designs.

Suzanne Bertman was holding on tightly to a lovely Sandbar creation, decorated with muscles and scallops, and her friend Fran Gilson had a most unusual Tea Tree, complete a teeny little bird tucked into a knothole; both crafted by Sparsis.

The creative process seemed to be as varied as the pieces themselves. Some, like artist Lisa Lugo, let the clay and their mood determine the outcome. Sparsis, on the other hand, said she plans out her pieces beforehand.

Student potters Trudy Von Linsowe and Dianne Mieras were proudly displaying a couple of their latest works.

“We’re addicted” said Von Linsowe.  “It’s so fun being in that state of mind. You’re going to see us around for a long time.”

Mieras had gone to the Museum for a glass class, but when that was canceled she decided to try her hand at pottery.  “Guess it was fate.”

Other pieces will be on exhibit at Tea & Chi, located in the 14th Avenue Pueblo Arcade, through December 30. {igallery 317}

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