Potter opens studio, shop in Stonington
Stonington — After 16 years in business, first in Yantic and then in Bozrah, Lyndsay Meiklem Dean was ready for a change.
She had built a following of people taking her art and yoga classes at Meiklem Kiln Works & Centerspace Wellness Studio. But Dean wanted to be closer to Stonington, where she moved four years ago, and being a landlord at the Bozrah property was stressful.
“The older I get, the more I just want to be in front of that wheel,” said Dean, 43.
So she closed Meiklem Kiln Works at the end of July and opened Glaze Handmade, a pottery studio and shop at 530 Stonington Road, on Aug. 21. It feels like a vacation for Dean, who said that she eventually may start offering online courses and some demonstration-style workshops.
Dean is known as “The Vegan Potter” — she has been vegan for 22 years, long before the lifestyle was in vogue — but didn’t want that for the name of the shop, fearing it could confuse or alienate potential customers.
Two or three days a week, visitors can come in and observe Dean working at the wheel in the window while browsing her wares.
“I feel like I’m bringing back a little bit of the older style of craftsman studios, where you could walk into the studio and see your craft actually being made,” she said.
Glaze sells “functional stoneware meant to be used in and around the house,” such as plates, bowls, teapots, candleholders and vases. Many feature mandalas, while others have images of fish, flowers and buoys.
Glaze also does custom pottery and gift registries.
Prices run from 350 for a lamp, with mugs coming in about 35.
People who question the cost of pottery often don’t realize how much work goes into her pieces after she’s done at the wheel, Dean said.
After removing a piece from the wheel, Dean wraps it in plastic to sit for between a few days and a week, puts it back on the wheel upside-down to trim the bottom, leaves it on a shelf to dry for a week, places it in a bisque kiln to extract the moisture, glazes it, and lastly fires it in a second kiln.
As has been the case for years, she buys all her supplies from Rusty Kiln in North Windham.
Dean sells her pottery at 15 different retailers, such as Salt and Sage, both in Mystic, and Azalea in Niantic. But she asserts she’s not competing with these local stores, considering she makes for each custom pieces that are available exclusively in that shop.
Dean grew up in Norwich and was a maker in her time at Norwich Free Academy, doing metalsmithing. She went on to study English and creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal, and then worked for the Jane Goodall Institute.
At the time, paint-your-own-pottery studios were becoming popular. Dean didn’t like painting but became curious as to how the pieces were made, so she signed up for classes at a community studio. She was hooked.
Dean took a sabbatical from work to teach pottery at Camp Laurel South in Maine.
“I thought, this’ll be a test,” she said. “If I can live and breathe and teach pottery to kids for three months straight and still love it ...”
Dean started Meiklem Kiln Works in 2002 in Yantic, with 10 pottery wheels to give lessons to the public. In 2006, she bought the property in Bozrah.