Potter brings back original style to art tour

Kim Doughty, owner of The Artful Bean in Bethany Beach, has enjoyed a two-and-a-half year run at the coffee shop. It’s her artistic creativity and imagination, however, that are proving to be her true calling. Doughty has been creating pottery for nearly nine years, and for the fourth consecutive year, will participate in the 13th Annual Southeastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST), set for Friday, Nov. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 24.

artful bean: Kim Doughty stands next to some of her pottery originals in her downtown Bethany Beach store, The Artful Bean.Coastal Point • RYAN SAXTON
Kim Doughty stands next to some of her pottery originals in her downtown Bethany Beach store, The Artful Bean.

As a graduate from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Doughty was able to perfect her skill at an early start.

“It was a lot of fun,” Doughty said. “It was really a great environment. There’s a freedom of creativity, and you don’t need to worry about whether or not things are going to sell. You’re around all of these other creative individuals all the time. I’d go back in a second.”

Doughty’s love for pottery began when she took the course as an elective, just to try it. “Like every kid who goes to art school, their parents tell them that they should be a graphic design major or do something with computers,” she said, “and that’s what I initially went to do. It just took one class, though, and I fell in love with it.”

An original aspect to her work that sets her apart from most other potters is the fact that Doughty makes her own clay and glaze. “I make it with different chemicals and powders,” she said. “It’s basically made from scratch. That allows me to have more of a variety in my work, and I can fine-tune the colors of my glazes ever-so-slightly to make it how I want it.” This personable touch is reflected in her pieces, from vases and bowls, and even some decorative works. “I mostly do functional stuff,” she said. “I have tried to do some sculptural things, too. My color palate tends to be in more of the subtle hues.”

Although she has dabbled in the realm of glass creation and other medium, it’s ceramics that have drawn her in from the start. “There’s something about the pots that is very contemplative and relaxing,” she added. “Making the pots is really where my passion lies.” While attending the university, she met boyfriend and fellow artist, Justin Cavagnaro, whose glass-blown works have been featured on the SEDAST tour for four years, too.

“We had originally heard about the tour from friends,” she said. “It’s really awesome. It’s a great way to get exposure. The tour has a really great following.”

Prior to relocating to the Dagsboro area, Doughty and Cavagnaro lived briefly in Watkins Glen in upstate New York, working in Corning, turning hobbies into careers. Another SEDAST glass artist and college friend Philip Adkins, introduced them to Sussex County four years ago, and the three shared a glass and ceramic studio. Just last year, though, Doughty and Cavagnaro branched onto a new project, a studio at their own Dagsboro home in Herring Wood, beside the Indian River High School. “We wanted to try something just for us,” Doughty said. “Not a lot of people who come to the tour know about it yet.” The studio, though not open to the public on a daily basis, will be featured in the tour on the set time and dates. “It’s very exciting,” she added. “It’s a whole new venture for us. It’s the next step in our careers.”

Now that she’s settled in southeastern Delaware, Doughty is beginning to see a noticeable delight for her creations. “I’ve had a really great response and a pretty good following,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of people who appreciate ceramics and pottery and art of all kinds in this area. There’s a big influx of people coming from the city, Washington and Baltimore, and they all have an appreciation for what we’re doing. We see a lot of people come back each year.”

Running The Artful Bean consumes most of her schedule, especially in the summer, but Doughty tries to set aside any time she can afford to her pottery wheel. Projects can take anywhere between one week or three weeks, depending on the size and shape of the piece. “There’s a lot involvements,” she said, “from making the clay, to the actual making of the piece, and multiple firings.”

Every year, each artist in SEDAST donates one of their pieces to Art-in-a-Hat, a drawing in which one-of-a-kind creations are raffled off, with proceeds going to art departments and programs in local schools. “We’ve raised a lot of money with the raffle so far and it’s for a great cause,” Doughty said. “It helps, because the departments in the area don’t get the funding that they need.” Her piece this year, “Pale Blue and Cobalt Vase,” was part of a blue-speckled series she had done. She balances her ceramic creations between series and complete originals. “When you’re working, you tend to go with a theme,” she said, “but a lot of the time, you end up steering away from it, too.” Tickets for the Art-in-the-Hat raffle are $10 apiece or three for $25, and can be purchased the day of the tour at all of the studios, for any artist.

The tour, which originated in 1995, is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Nov. 23 and 24. Participants can travel from studio to studio of featured artists from the Bethany Beach, Dagsboro and Fenwick Island areas, taking in the splendor of different crafts and artwork. For more information, including studio locations and additional artists featured on the tour, visit www.artstudiotour.com.