PHILLIPS – If you the drive down the rutted dirt road leading to Bog Pond Pottery this weekend, you might get the impression there’s not much to see there.

The signs certainly don’t proclaim the husband-and-wife potters – Rob Sieminski and Diana Thomas – have work in the Smithsonian and have been featured in Ceramics Monthly, respectively.

But the work you find in their gallery – from utilitarian cups and bowls to large boxes, vases and ornamental pieces – is almost shocking in it’s uniqueness. Sieminski’s rough-hewn, earth-toned bowls – if you can even call them that – contrast sharply with Thomas’ smooth, shiny, and brilliantly colored boxes and bowls.

“It’s a beautiful marriage. They’re both incredibly talented,” says Lucy Lacoste, who owns the LaCoste Gallery in Concord, Mass. Thomas’ work has been shown there. Sieminski’s will be shown there shortly, she said.

Both of them say they strive to bring originality and life to the objects they make.

By using a wood-fired kiln, instead of an electric one, the clay undergoes a strange transition when it’s being fired. Wood ash falling on the surfaces change the colors. Chemicals in the clay sometime leech out. Sieminski rarely uses glazes, but studs his work with minerals and glass. Thomas uses glaze in places, bare clay or porcelain in others.

Pulling the pieces out of the kiln, neither knows exactly what they’ll find. The surprise – and the interaction with the natural world – is an important part of their art.

“You make a piece, you do everything to achieve a certain look, then you give up control to the kiln,” Thomas said. “That last stroke is not yours. I like that.”

Sweet surprises seem to be a theme in the couple’s life.

Growing up an Air Force brat, working construction through college, the thought he’d one day be a renowned potter living comfortably in Maine with a wife and a son never entered Sieminski’s mind.

But he was intrigued by the art portfolios he saw classmates carrying around the college campus. Unsure of a major, he dropped out of school, then decided to take a ceramics class at night.

“I felt I might be able to do it,” he said Tuesday. “I’m good with my hands.”

Soon after starting, his teacher pulled him aside, wanted to know why he wasn’t majoring in art. “He gave me a job sweeping the floors at night to help me do it. Obviously he knew something I didn’t.”

Sieminski has worked in the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Art Museum.

Thomas got interested in ceramics the same way, after being fascinated by her roommates’ art portfolios. She started taking ceramics classes, then apprenticed with a potter, then got her master of fine arts degree.

Her work was recently featured in Ceramics Monthly magazine. Thomas’ work appeals to all sorts of people, Lacoste said.

“The utilitarian pieces people love for the warmth and the beauty and the way the ash is dropped on the top. The sculptural ones stand on their own. I think they have a strong universal appeal,” she said.

Of Sieminski, Lacoste said, “he’s a major talent.” His work has not been shown yet at the gallery, but will be this winter, she said.

Both Thomas’ and Sieminski’s work will be on display this weekend at their house on Bog Pond Road.



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