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Pottery festival showcases local talent

Back when she lived in a Boston apartment, Mary Lafleur had lots of plants, but no pots to hang them in.

So, Lafleur took up pottery. And for three years, she turned out flowerpot after flowerpot.

Finally, her teacher took her aside. Um, the teacher said, had Lafleur ever thought about making something other than pots?

She laughs telling the story. Not really, she said.

But the teacher encouraged her to try something else, so Lafleur made a coffee cup for her dad.

"He had to use two hands to life it," she said.

Other (better) pieces followed, and today Lafleur runs Pinewoods Potters, where she makes all kinds of pottery, some of which will be on display and for sale at Pottery Fest 2011. Set for Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8, at the Shaker Site near Albany International Airport, the festival will feature more than 40 ceramic and sculptural artists.

Like Lafleur, the participating potters belong to the Collar City Clay Guild. Based in Troy, the guild hosts monthly meetings with speakers, workshops and lectures. One thing members don't often do is bring in pieces in progress, which is one of the reasons LaFleur gets a kick out of the pottery fest.

"It's so much fun to walk around and say, 'Oh my golly, I didn't know you were doing such great work,'" she said.

Lafleur's own work is still chiefly functional, although she does do some pieces that tend more toward the artistic. She loves working with clay, adding stamps and textures to create one-of-a-kind pieces.

"It's mine," she said. "Your uniqueness comes out."

Lee Glasheen squeezed in an interview about her pottery during a "marathon glazing session" for pieces she's working on for the festival. Glasheen made some pieces earlier in her life, but working a full-time job and raising a family left her with little time to pursue pottery. So, she put her pottery wheel away, thinking that maybe she'd sell it.

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