A passion for pottery

For years, Liz Vigoda had a pottery studio in downtown Albany where she would regularly host open houses for customers and the curious alike to check out her work.

But the building was eventually sold, and Vigoda now works out of her home in Delmar. She doesn't have room for a showroom there, so she decided to take some of her pieces to her friend Ulla Sattinger's studio in Slingerlands, which is one of the featured stops on this year's Albany Saratoga Pottery Trail.

The trail is really open year round; anyone is welcome to visit any of the studios on the trail whenever time permits. But for the last five years, the potters who take part have come together on a common weekend to showcase their pottery and offer demonstrations and refreshments, all for free.

We want people to stay and talk and look around, said Nancy Niefield, who owns Two Spruce Pottery on Jay Street in Schenectady.

The studios will be open on Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are seven stops in total, ranging as far north as Schuylerville and including two studios in Troy. A map and directions are available on www.albanysaratogapotterytrail.com; visitors can also download a coupon to use at the studios during the weekend.

Niefield has been part of the trail since its inception and said she and the other potters who founded it wanted to grow it slowly. For the first three years, they offered a studio "passport" that visitors could have stamped at each of the five studios taking part. Those who visited every studio were entered into a raffle, with the potters supplying pieces and prizes.

"There were more than 100 people who did all five stops," Nieman said.

Because the trail has expanded, organizers opted for the coupon this year instead of a raffle, thinking it might be tough (although certainly not impossible) for people to visit all of the stops. Each studio determined how much the coupon would be worth and to what it would apply.

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