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Passion for pottery takes woman to Capitol Hill

December 28, 2014

BUCKEYSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Nancy Bodmer gave her daughter the middle name Clay.

The Buckeystown resident said she dabbled in several different art forms, but when she started pottery, there was no going back.

“It just took me over the edge. It was like an epiphany,” Bodmer said. “As soon as I put my hands in clay, it was it.”

That passion has taken her work to Capitol Hill.

She was recently commissioned to make plates for the 42 new members of the House of Representatives, plus the seven committee chairs.

Though Bodmer said she has made “everything but the kitchen sink,” commemorative plates have become her specialty. Her first one was 36 years ago for the birth of her daughter. She said she likes the element of family and history that the plates encompass. The options for designs and messages are also appealing to Bodmer.

The opportunity to make the plates for the members of Congress came to her through a returning customer, Lynnel Ruckert, who called and asked if she would make 30 plates “for her boss.” As it turns out, Ruckert’s boss is House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana.

Bodmer said Ruckert later called her and said it looked like she would be making even more plates due to the election results.

The design Bodmer chose for the plates had to be approved, and she was given the wording for the back of the plates. Other than that, she said the process was a breeze.

“They were wonderful to work with,” she said.

The front of the plates say “Congressman (woman) 2015” along with each official’s name and district. The design depicts the U.S. Capitol dome, plus some gold stars and blue dots. The back of the plates has a congratulatory message.

“They wanted to make sure the blue was a very patriotic blue,” Bodmer said of the approval process.

She and her husband, Ed, have owned Bodmer’s Pottery for 38 years. The store sells her own creations, plus wood-burning stoves they bring in from Vermont.

All of Bodmer’s plates are made on a potter’s wheel using a red clay. She covers them with a white slip and carves through them when she writes so the clay is visible. She writes messages using a German-style font.

Bodmer’s signature is that she always personalizes the back of her plates with a message for the recipient. She uses three colors in addition to the clay and white slip.

“Two (colors) just isn’t enough, but you don’t want to go overboard,” she said.

Events she frequently makes plates for include weddings, new homes, childbirths, anniversaries and family crests. Bodmer estimated that she makes about 400 plates a year.

This is the first time she has made plates for anything related to politics.

The experience is something she’ll never forget.

“There’s a possibility I made a plate for a future president of the United States,” Bodmer said. “They’ve got to start somewhere.”

For details about Bodmer’s Pottery, go to Bodmerstore.com.

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

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