Artist profile: Caroline & Lauren Grainger
There’s a lot going on at Grainger Pottery in Sandwich. Simply walking through the door is an experience. Every inch of wall space is decorated, and it might take the eye a minute to adjust to the vibrant colors and shapes and realize what they are—fish. Ceramic ones, that is. Caroline and Lauren Grainger, owners of Grainger Pottery and resident ceramicists, will tell you with humorous smirks that they know far too many strange facts about marine life, and looking around their shop makes it clear that they take their craft seriously.
Caroline and Lauren became passionate about ceramics at a young age, working at Grainger Pottery in Marion, the original shop founded by Caroline and Lauren’s aunt and uncle. “It’s always been really cool to do something with your hands and make something from start to finish,” says Caroline. “Our dad always loved china,” adds Lauren. “Growing up and seeing that kind of artwork inspires you to go and do something similar.”
There is other sea life represented in the shop as well, including lobsters, starfish and horseshoe crabs. Each wall is separated into different regions—including southern, tropical, freshwater and, of course, North Atlantic—and the molds are all made from real fish. “People will come in and dump crabs on our table, asking if we want them,” says Lauren, laughing.
Using real fish means that the ceramics are stunningly lifelike, but if a customer wants something with more artistic liberty, Caroline and Lauren are happy to create that as well. “We almost can’t wait to change things up and hear people’s feedback. Our work evolves with our customers,” explains Caroline. “It’s really gratifying when people value our work,” Lauren says.
The community’s willingness to shop local is a huge motivator for this pair. After all, who on the Cape isn’t looking for a fabulous golden cod or a colorful nautical accent? “Even the artists just on 6A have been so helpful,” says Lauren. “The community here is so supportive. December is really our busiest time, and that’s all local people,” adds Caroline, who explains that they also enjoy the personal element of helping their customers put together a design for their homes. “We have a lot of customers come in with pictures of their space, and we help them put a school together. That’s one of the most rewarding and fun aspects of what we do,” she says. Since many of their customers are local, Caroline and Lauren are involved with the decorating process from start to finish, building invaluable personal connections with members of their community.
“Our main thing that we don’t ever want to lose is that it’s handmade,” says Caroline. “We like the open layout of the shop because when people come in they can see us working, and sometimes they like to sit and watch us paint or make molds.” As a local, family-run store, there are many reasons Grainger Pottery is charming, and Caroline and Lauren’s commitment to lovingly creating each and every product by hand is just the cherry on top.
Grainger Pottery, 478 Route 6A, East Sandwich.
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