was driven to do this," says Sarah Houde, a Hollywood scientist turned
potter. While studying marine biology in college, Houde registered for
an astronomy class. Learning the astronomy class was full, she decided
on a pottery class instead. That was the beginning of Houde's "call to
pottery." Destiny some might say.
Originally from New Jersey, Houde came to Southern Maryland after
college to work and to continue her studies as a marine biologist at a
research lab in Solomons. However, the pottery bug would not leave her
and she continued to work with clay part time. In 1985 she acquired a
used pottery wheel and kiln; her journey from marine biologist to
full-time potter had begun. The "evolution" was complete in 1988 when
Houde became a full-time potter.
The artist was "enamored with Jacques Cousteau as kid" and her love of
sea life had led her down the marine biology path. When she became a
full-time potter, the allure did not stop there. Her passion for all
things aquatic shows in her pottery as well.
"At first, I fought the whole fish thing," she shares. Houde continued
making teapots and other creations but eventually gave in to her
devotion to sea life. She has become well known for her flounder and
striped bass fish platters as well as her sea garden urns.
Working out of her waterfront studio filled with sunlight and an
inspiring view of the Patuxent River, Houde creates her one-of-a kind
works of art. Along with the expected pottery wheel, Houde's studio
houses the many tools she uses to form her clayworks. In keeping with
her love of the sea, most of her tools are organic objects she has found
and include shells, starfish and even a seahorse.
She also uses other natural objects like pinecones and leaves "capturing
the whole essence of the plant" in her pottery. Although Houde enjoys
working with all of her natural tools, her favorite is a cockle shell.
She has been using the same one for 20 years and if you look closely,
you will find the marks of her favorite cockle shell in most of her
Houde uses many different kinds of clay and techniques including
stoneware and Raku-a Japanese technique developed in the 16th century.
Each piece is hand-crafted and unique. Her works range from functional
pieces like dinnerware and platters to one-of-a kind sculptures and tile
work. She also takes commissions for special request pieces.
Pottery is not only a passion for this artist; it is a way to give back.
Once a year, Houde hosts a workshop for potters and friends to benefit
the "Empty Bowl Project." The participants in the workshop create
clayworks with Houde and the finished products from the workshop are
sold with proceeds donated to the project. Last year, the proceeds went
to a church in Mississippi damaged by the hurricane to help re-stock
their food pantry.
Houde also opens her private studio the first weekend of December each
year for an open house. She invites guests to come and enjoy her pottery
and asks each to bring a donation of canned food for the needy. Houde
then delivers the food donations to a church in Lexington Park.
Sarah Houde has transformed from sea-loving child to scientist to
beach-combing artist; along the way staying true to her excitement and
enthusiasm for all things aquatic. She transfers this energy into her
pottery and leaves us with her unique treasures and a piece of herself.
You can find Sarah Houde in the "Barnwood" and "Beach Glass Loop" in the
"Southern Maryland Trails" book available by calling 301-274-1922 or at
www.somdtrails.com. Or, see her
work at several local art galleries including the North End Gallery in
Leonardtown and Carmen's in Solomons. Her waterfront studio in Hollywood
is open by appointment only.
For More Information on Sarah Houde Pottery or the "Empty Bowl Project":
www.SarahHoudePottery.com, or call 301-373-2297.