If you spend even just a couple hours on Orcas Island, a San Juan Island North of Seattle, you’d really need to be out of it not to notice art sprinkled all around in nooks and crannies and in places you wouldn’t necessary expect. Many art installations, like the sparkly mobile hanging on the side of the road going into town essentially became landmarks for me, reminding us of an upcoming turn or destination.
Unfortunately, many of the galleries and museums are closed during the winter months (we visited the island this past January). If places were actually open, they often had limited hours, so some of my choices for outings, like the Howe Sculpture Garden, had to wait for another visit.
One truly special place stays open year round though, with hours that easily worked into our schedule. Orcas Island Pottery is no ordinary pottery studio. It’s been around for generations. In fact, it’s the oldest existing craft shop on the island and the oldest pottery studio in the entire Northwest!
You might think it would be quite foolish to bring a young, energetic, rambunctious toddler to a place that sells, makes and displays pottery, but it turns out Orcas Island Pottery is great for kids and adults alike. That’s not to say we could kick back and relax, we still had to watch Bergen like a hawk. The difference is that he had diversions and he was welcome.
For one, the grounds are spacious with lots of room to run around and little paths to take. Plenty of recognizable (and some not) ornaments and fascinating objects to point at and wonder about. Did I mention we were visiting in January? We had the place to ourselves.
Once Bergen was tired of wandering around, he climbed up and explored an incredibly built tree house. From the top, we were able to view the property as a whole and I took some time to look out onto the President’s Channel with other islands and even Canada in the distance.
Later, the friendly potters invited Bergen and Slaed in to learn about how all this beautiful work is crafted. Bergen even got to touch the clay and watch real live students try their hand at the art. Syd Exton, the owner of Orcas Island Pottery gave them a personal tour, and helped us to pick out a set of glasses; perfect for sipping wine.
And finally, our visit was capped off with a good old-fashioned swing. Bergen’s definitely done some swinging in his little life and has enjoyed some nice views, but this one has to be at the top of his list.
Info to Know:
- Orcas Island Pottery:
- 338 Old Pottery Road Eastsound, Washington 98245 (follow signs)
- Open Everyday (except Christmas and Easter) 10am-5pm
- With so much to explore, plan to stay for an hour or so.
- Owners are welcoming. On a nice day or evening, feel free to pack a picnic and enjoy it on their grounds.
What’s been your experience with toddlers and art studios, galleries and museums? Share your stories and tips.