Editor's Note: The pandemic is forcing all of us to navigate new territories and the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour is no exception. Studio Potter asked Linda Christianson to share with us how the St. Croix potters are laying their course as they ready for their upcoming sale.

St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour  Jan McKeachie Johnston, Mike Helke, Naomi Dalglish, Randy Johnston, Linda Christianson, and Lisa Buck. When my daughter Cecilia was very young, she told me that we must “get the pots to the people.”

Pots come to life when they are in use at the table and kitchen sink. The story of how pots come to us and worm their way into our lives can be an added bonus. 

The potters of the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota realized twenty-eight years ago that the best way to “get the pots to the people” was to band together into a collective and invite the public into our homes and studios. Give folks a map, get them in a car with their friends, and spend a day or two wandering around the farms and woodlands looking for yellow pottery-tour signs. Camp at a state park and ride around in a peloton [a group of cyclists] on bicycles with baskets. We potters recognized that one needs to approach each studio slowly on foot, pick the pots up, compare their heft, their stance. Does that handle feel better than it looks? One needs to line up all the bowls from one series and examine each one in relation to the others. That foot is so right on that one, but the lip is better on that other one. One is too plump, but in an oddly great way. Unlike picking out a culprit in a police lineup, our public has the ability to not only hold and look at the pots, but ask them questions and get them to turn around and do some tricks. We deliberately let each studio set their own stage, beginning with terrific pots, potters, and food. As the public arrives, the weekend unfolds with whatever weather is at hand. It might snow or hail. There may or may not be mosquitoes. We potters look forward to the public’s laughter, exchanging of book lists and recipes, stories continued from last year, and inquiries around family and changes. High school teachers arrive with busloads of students eager to be out of school, meet everyone, and drink root beer. The Saint Croix Valley Pottery Tour has become a vibrant culture that encourages the interaction of pots, people, and studios in relaxed and beautiful settings.