Standing in the galley kitchen at EarthStar Pottery, I considered the extensive collection of mugs and cups on the wall. Narrow shelves held ceramic vessels of various colors, shapes and sizes representing dozens of artists with whom Barbara Lane, the owner of EarthStar Pottery in North Hartland, has crossed paths over the years.
Now in her 70’s, Barbara’s approach to this point was anything but predictable. Bearing a mathematics degree, she spent 21 years as a Navy wife, traveling with her husband and kids and keeping the household. In 1972 Barbara apprenticed with studio potter, Donna Crigler, in an eclectic, informal and creative atmosphere in Northern Virginia.
After ten years as a production potter, selling in 15 galleries in Northern Virginia Barbara quit pottery from about 1982 to 97. She earned her Master’s in Social Work in 1984 and in a remarkable act of juxtaposition took a job as a Cost Schedule Control Analyst (decidedly not a social work job) for contractors in the beltway. Eventually Barbara returned to pottery, teaching ceramics in Lynchburg.
Lane’s husband died in 2001 and she spent three and a half years alone on the mountain which was not sustainable. It was at this point that she moved to Vermont to be closer to her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. Barbara looked for a place to live for years whenever she visited family there, thinking she would find a place to make pots and keep at most one tenant. She found the old general store in North Hartland. What sold her on the immense property was the fact that clay could be delivered at ground level making the pottery that much more feasible. That and the ready income from several apartments as well as the post office now make for a living.
Given Barbara’s various roles as she pursued a lifestyle in the ceramic arts, it is no surprise that her shelves have so many individual vessels, each marking unique steps along her way.