Artist's love for ceramics sparks creativity in others NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

ALL FIRED UP

August 02, 1993|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Staff Writer

When Dolores Underwood was a newlywed nearly 30 years ago, she says she "couldn't afford to buy all those pretty things out there," so she "decided to make them myself."

Now, she has her own shop -- Dolores' Ceramic World, on Belle Grove Road in Linthicum, full of figures she made herself, like the boy fishing on the banks of a small pond while several ducks float around waterlily pads.

Mrs. Underwood, who lives in the Harmans area, has been involved in ceramics since 1965 and has won several prizes for her work. In 1991, the National Capital Ceramic Association awarded her a first-place ribbon for a work of boys and girls riding a carousel.

She is passing on the craft of making ceramics to her daughter and her two granddaughters, Melissa and Christine. The girls each won first-place ribbons in a ceramic contest for children last year. Melissa, then 9, won for a Christmas Moon figure she dry brushed. Christine, then 5, won for a vase she did in crystal.

Mrs. Underwood had worked in her home for many years before opening her first ceramic shop about eight years ago at her husband's and daughter's urgings.

Until then, she said, "Everything I'd make, I'd give it away. If someone said, 'Oh, I like that,' I'd say, 'Here, take it.' "

Now, people from as far away as New Jersey drive to her shop to take ceramics classes she offers. "People, if they know ceramics, will drive a long way just to shop," said her husband, Howard, who helps the students.

Although most of the students are women, men take classes too, said Mrs. Underwood, stepping around Toby, a 7-year-old Yorkshire terrier who is the shop mascot.

The students learn how to make a range of figures, from dolls to vases. "Once you do a doll you don't want to stop because it's a technique unto itself," Mrs. Underwood said. Her students also get the satisfaction of knowing that they've made a piece themselves. Many of them like to come in around Christmas to make gifts, she said.

Making ceramics forces you to "concentrate on that and you forget about work and everything else," said Shirley LeBlanc, who stopped in the shop recently to have some holes redrilled for the eye sockets of a ceramic dog she is making.

Ceramics "really keeps your mind on what you're doing," said Ms. LeBlanc, who has been making ceramics off and on for the past 10 years. She has been enrolled in the dry brushing class the shop offers for about two weeks, she said.

Displaying a salad bowl and matching mixing bowls, Mrs. Underwood said, "There's very little you can't do in ceramics nowadays."

The shop has more than 10,000 molds from which students can choose. Mrs. Underwood guides beginners and advanced students through their projects. "Everybody's got a little bit of artistic ability in them," she said. "It just has to be brought out."

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