SPG History – a rambling account

by John C. Reiger

Must have been in 1975 that Joel and I were sitting, bored at a craft fair in a mall outside of Redding CA. While waiting for customers, and trying to hear ourselves over the too-loud live music one of us hit on the idea of starting a potters' group. I'd like to say it was my idea (and Joel isn't here to dispute it) but I really don't know - and it doesn't matter. Joel Bragdon was another local potter doing shows to make a living. He lived along Hwy 49 between Auburn and Grass Valley, which is probably why one of the first things we did was to invite all the potters we knew to a picnic in a park in either Grass Valley or Nevada City.

That's probably where we picked up the third founding member. __________ was a ceramic artist not a potter and that gave the new organization a broader ceramic range. Many of our early meetings had a featured speaker, often a ceramic artist not a potter. I wish I could rattle off some names, but I can't. What I can say is that the ceramic artists seemed to want to take the organization in a more professional direction, whereas the potters seemed content with a casual group of friends approach. At least that's how it appeared to me at the time.

Eventually _____ and his artists friends faded away leaving just the mud slingers. No hard feeling on our part. Eventually we decided to put on our own craft fair, an all pottery show. With a wink and a nod to the dual meaning of the name, we called it the Pot Show. And in the loose spirit of the time nobody objected, but there was a fair amount of sniggering. I contacted the management of Country Club Plaza, one of the better malls at that time, and they agreed to work with us (publicity, etc.) in having the first Pot Show in their mall in June 1978. It was a success, and continued to be for many years.

Changing times finally caught up with that mall and it started to fade as newer malls, like Arden, took away the customer traffic. The Pot Show adapted by finding new locations, and a new name "The Show at the Garden" but in 2017 it finally died. But the Potters Group lives on.

Over the years the group has seen many clay people come and go. Activity levels have varied, membership has grown and shrunken, leadership has passed from hand to hand, even the name has been altered, but the community of clay workers has persisted.

Become a Member

Art By Fire has about 85 members now (in 2021) and those members make their art using fire which includes clay, glass and metal artists. If you make your art using fire, you are welcome to join our group. Artists using commercial slip-cast made ceramics or embellished commercially made items are not eligible for membership. We have 2 shows/sales each year in Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park. Members are all invited to participate in those 2 shows. In January we have a members only Seconds Sale where we sell our less than perfect artwork. We also hold a before the end of year holidays sale. In December we hold a fun potluck dinner and gift exchange at the home of a member.

This is a link to the application form.

Download it, print it, and fill it out. It has instructions on where to send it with your membership check for $30.00.

We meet every even month according to the schedule on our calendar. Sometimes, we have a speaker or an outing, so be sure to check out the calendar.