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Bass River Pottery: Celebrating the Joy of Capturing Nature’s Beauty

by Jeanmarie O’Clair

Hyannis is the hub of tourism from around the world. Many people come for the beaches, or to stroll the shops on Main Street, dine on local cuisine or walk the Kennedy legend trail, but many also come to visit local artists who work in the HyArts Cultural District.

So many times I’ve heard tourists say ‘how nice it is’ or ‘how lucky you are’ to make art all day. Lucky? Nice?

Years ago, I asked myself what it was that I wanted to do in life and I envisioned myself creating art. I set my goals high and began a journey that involved taking classes and workshops, applying for grants, forming a working business plan and networking in the art community.

I built a very strong business foundation and surrounded myself with positive people. I was not afraid to ask questions and reach out for help. All my hard work paid off and I am the proud owner of Bass River Pottery, specializing in Sgraffito, which means "to scratch", a labor intensive carving technique that I use to decorate my pottery.

What started with a small empty building, a few bags of clay and a wheel, has grown from a business that made a few coffee mugs to one that makes a few hundred coffee mugs a year.

I also make handmade artisan tiles that are showcased in houses throughout the Cape. I am currently working on a floor tile mural for the new Educational Wing of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

Working for myself is more demanding and challenging when balanced with raising a young family. It requires working very late at night, after dinner time, and on the weekends. It is staying awake at night with my mind racing with a hundred things that need to be done the next day.

There are no sick days and no one can cover for me at meetings. Vacation time is not summer time. Work does not always get completed as quickly as I’d like, and sometimes the kiln gods have a different idea.

With each small step, however, I have gained confidence in myself and my work. Years ago, I hid behind my work, now I stand beside it.

Green Seahorses, featuring the sgraffito carving technique

I was recently asked to join a show at the Cape Cod Museum of Art and another show at The Cultural Arts Center of Cape Cod. I am also currently working on a tile Mural for the Town of Yarmouth.

I feel honored to be on the Mid Cape Cultural Council representing the town of Yarmouth and I hope to encourage more artists to apply for grants and network to build strong working art relations.

Sometimes I stop and close the barn doors to my studio and take a walk down to the harbor to remind myself why I am here. So many times I would get caught up with the list of things I have to do rather than the things I would like to do.

Down by the harbor, I slow down, meditate and remember how blessed I am to be part of the Cape’s Art world. Yes, I am lucky to create art for a living and yes, it is nice here. The Bass River Pottery studio is in the heart of the HyArts Cultural District at 50 Pearl Street, Hyannis. It will be closed for the winter but reopens in the spring. Until then, you can find Bass River Pottery on ETSY and on facebook.

Bass River Pottery

50 Pearl Street, Hyannis, Ma

774 487 4315

After teaching for many years in New York, Jeanmarie O’Clair settled on the shores of Cape Cod and is an active member of the HyArts Cultural District Campus. She is also a member of Cape Cod Potters, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and the Mid-Cape Cultural Council. Her work has been exhibited in several Cape Cod galleries and featured in juried and invitational shows.

Jeanmarie’s stoneware pottery is inspired by the ocean, beaches and large gardens that surround her Hyannis studio where she creates functional and whimsical pieces, specializing in sgraffito and tiles. All her sgraffito work is carved freehand so each piece has its own personality. To see more examples of her work visit