North Carolina Makers: Blusail Golitz Studios
North Carolina enjoys a vibrant community of makers, artisans, craftsmen, and artists. At the OUR STATESTORE, we travel the state to hunt for local artisans who create special, handcrafted goods, and we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creators of some of our most popular products. Sit a spell with us as we introduce you to some our favorite North Carolina makers.
Situated off of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, downtown Morehead City features brightly painted shops and restaurants that entice locals and visitors alike. Across from the old railroad built by the town’s namesake, a blue-painted storefront catches the eyes of passersby. In the summer months, a wooden table laden with pitchers and bowls sits under the eaves, drying its wares in the day’s heat. Through the large, open windows, visitors can see buffets of richly-hued stoneware sitting alongside bold, abstract paintings. Clay-covered pottery wheels anticipate the next batch of enthusiastic hobbyists, attending one of the many workshops offered on site. This is the studio and gallery space of Mark and Lynn Golitz.
Looking to escape harsh winters, these Pennsylvania transplants settled in Morehead City in 2007. For 30 years, Lynn worked in sales and marketing, while Mark worked in the forest products industry. With their children grown, and armed with the knowledge of small business practices, sustainable resources, purchasing, marketing, and sales, Mark and Lynn plunged forward with the concept of BLUSAIL GOLITZ STUDIOS, a production and teaching studio and retail space. Lynn is the resident painter and sculptor; it’s her vivid canvases lining the walls of the gallery. Mark is the potter, creating artistic and functional pottery. The couple teaches pottery workshops, painting classes, and arts camps at the studio.
We caught up with Mark to find out more about their lives and his work.
What is your process for making pottery? What are you thinking about when starting a new piece?
I enjoy artistic pottery, but my passion is functional pottery. The process begins with conceptualizing the consumer who will use our finished product. When I design functional pottery, I think about how it looks, feels, wears, washes, and stores. I like the idea that my customers use my pottery every day. I have folks who tell me they have coffee with me every morning because I made their favorite MUG. Functional pottery allows me to develop a relationship and a connection with other people.
Materials make such a difference in the quality of the finished pieces. What type of clay do you use? Do you use any special tools in your work?
We use a few different types of stoneware clay for our functional pottery. We use Raku clay for our Raku and horsehair pottery for its ability to handle the thermal shock imposed by the Raku process. We source our clay from Highwater Clays in Asheville, North Carolina. We try to purchase all of our equipment and supplies as locally as possible. My most essential tools are my wheels and kilns. I use a few ribs while throwing. I like to keep it simple. For hand-building and sculptural work, we use a few shaping tools, but for the most part, it is simply shaping with our hands.
Take us through a typical day for you.
One of the great things about what we do is that there is no “typical” day. While we own a retail gallery that features our work, we spend most of our time creating pottery and paintings. Since we do a wide variety of items for the custom pottery and wholesale markets, we are working on something new or different almost every day. Lynn paints every day and usually has a few in progress. Each of her paintings is one of a kind. In addition, she does most of our sculptural work. We mix in marketing, sales, accounting, and cleaning throughout the week. While not as much fun as creating and making, these activities are necessary when you own a small business.
Tell us about the various classes you teach at the studio.
We offer pottery wheel classes, hand-building and sculpture workshops, painting classes, and children’s art camps in the summer. In addition, we offer free art classes each month for cancer patients and their caregivers in cooperation with the Carteret Health Care Foundation and the Kelly Wagner Foundation. I also teach pottery as an adjunct instructor in the Art Department at Carteret Community College. Teaching allows us to share our passions, resources, and skills with others. Providing children an opportunity to express their imagination and expand their interest in art is very rewarding and inspiring. Giving a few hours of relaxation and mental relief to someone undergoing cancer treatment is our way of gifting to a special group of people in our community. Teaching a painting class or a pottery class motivates and challenges us in ways that oftentimes leads to the instructor becoming the student. I believe that teaching makes us better artists.
You moved to Morehead City ten years ago. What inspires you about this town?
We live in a beautiful part of the country and have made so many good friends. We feel fortunate to be a part of this community and to live here. When we lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania, we had bears and turkeys in our backyard. Now we have dolphins and pelicans. Constant creativity takes a lot of self motivation. Living on the coast, I will say that a long walk on the beach will go a long way toward recharging our creative batteries.