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Finding relief in pottery

Monday, Mar. 31 | By Hannah Dellinger
While Ann Masch (l) of Markham, the studio manager, listens, Lori Langford, owner of Big Dog Pots Pottery, teaches her staff in Marshall.
Photo by Alisa Booze Troetschel
After Lori Langford’s mother passed away unexpectedly, she needed to take on a hobby to help her cope with her grief and move on.

“I was really grief stricken,” said Langford. “I had collected pottery for about 25 years, so my husband Hugh encouraged me to try making my own pottery after my mother died to help me come along.”

Langford studied geology in college and never considered herself much of an artist, however she took on Hugh’s advice.
The first piece that Langford tried to make was a platter with a leaf embedded into it.

“I had seen someone in Seagrove, N.C. make a bowl with a leaf in it,” said Langford. “I just thought that that was really cool and I wanted to do that. So, I got my slab ready and molded and went out to find a leaf. I found one and the piece turned out great. Four days later I found out that I had poison ivy all over me.”

Despite the poison ivy incident, Langford began making pottery more and more and found that she needed an outlet to sell it.
“I got to the point where I had given everyone in my extended family as much pottery as they could possibly stomach,” joked Langford. “So my husband said that we needed to find a home for all of these things.”

Hugh built a studio on their property in Marshall and her work went up online on etsy.com to be sold. She had great success selling pottery pieces all over the country and abroad.

One of her most popular items were her dog bowls made especially for long-eared canines. She also started selling a lot of personalized wedding platters and comfort crosses that are made to fit snuggly in a person’s hand.

“We’re very blessed and we didn’t really need to make any money off of this hobby,” said Langford. “So we decided to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to local animal rescue groups.”

She has given her profits to the Middleburg Humane Society, Fauquier SPCA, different food banks and outreach programs in Fauquier and a number of other charities that help children and families.

With her growing success, Langford started to outgrow her home studio. She and her Hugh purchased a historic home built in the 1890s on Main Street in Marshall that would become her new public studio and shop.

The home was completely rotted from the floors down, so Hugh spent four months this past winter refurbishing it and getting it up to code. He would go to the house after a full day of work as a financial analyst and labor through the evening without any heat or hot water.

Langford opened her brand new pottery store, lovingly called Big Dog Pots, for her past and present family dogs. The store officially opened its doors on March 1.

Big Dog Pots has classes in hand building and wheel throwing offered for ages 3 and up. The classes are geared toward beginner through intermediate level potters. There is also open studio time available.

The store has a gift shop with Langford’s work and many pieces from local artists. The gift shop also carries pottery from Seagrove because those artists were the ones who first inspired Langford to become a potter herself.

Anne Masch, works with Langford at the store. Though she doesn’t have a background in pottery, she believes that she can offer moral support to other beginners who wish to take classes.

“I think I can encourage beginners, because we’re in the same boat,” said Masch. “I just took my first class recently, and like every other beginner, I thought of the movie ‘Ghost.’ When I sat down, I felt very Demi Moore.”

Masch thinks that the store will do well in Marshall, since she sees a need for a high quality gift shop in the area.

“When you’re in Marshall and you are leaving work and headed to a birthday party, you’re in trouble,” said Masch. “Because there just isn’t anywhere to get a present around here. There aren’t any high quality gift shops.”

Big Dog Pots will have a grand opening celebration on March 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The party will feature wheel and hand building demonstrations, light refreshments and hourly free giveaways

For more information about Big Dog Pots, visit http://www.bigdogpots.net.

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