The Pottery Avenue Cottage ribbon-cutting introduces shop’s unique Polish stoneware

ST. GEORGE — With a snip of some very large scissors, The Pottery Avenue Cottage opened for business Friday afternoon bringing to St. George a unique offering of Polish stoneware made from clay found only one place on Earth, Boleslawiec, Poland.

Kelly Chakos (L) and Twila Abrams (R) prepare to cut the ribbon and officially welcome the public to the Pottery Avenue Cottage, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Kelly Chakos (center left) and Twila Abrams (center right) prepare to cut the ribbon and officially welcome the public to the Pottery Avenue Cottage, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

With members of the St. George business and political community surrounding them, Twila Abrams and husband, Kelly Chakos, welcomed the community to the grand opening of their new business. After the ribbon was cut, Abrams and Chakos mingled, served food and raffled off boxes of their stunning stoneware.

The couple took a year to renovate and prepare the historic home at 231 E. 100 South and created a boutique in which to sell their colorful collection of Polish pottery.

Abrams said she was first inspired to sell the unique style of pottery during a trip to Europe in 1989. The trip’s original intent was an investigation into her ancestry, she said, and because of the dire circumstances in Poland at that time, she found the trip to be depressing. However, during the darkest hours of that journey, she stumbled upon the pottery for which the country is renowned.

When I saw my very first piece of Polish stoneware on that trip, my whole spirit just lifted, and I could breathe again,” Abrams said. “I heard the big booming voice in my head saying ‘I’m going to import this someday’ and I said ‘OK.'”

It was the ignition of her mission, she said, which is to inspire and enrich people’s lives with Polish stoneware, just as it had done for her during that trip.

Polish stoneware has a 750-year tradition, originating from the small town of Boleslawiec, she said. Part of what makes this particular type of pottery unique is the white clay that is mined from the area surrounding the town. It is found nowhere else on earth and has an extremely high firing temperature of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Pottery Avenue Cottage, a boutique specializing in Polish stoneware, opened its doors for business with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
The Pottery Avenue Cottage, a boutique specializing in Polish stoneware, opened its doors for business with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“That’s what locks in all this durability,” she said. “Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also totally functional.”

The pottery sold at The Pottery Avenue Cottage is hand-painted with finely detailed patterns in a wide spectrum of colors with a predominant blue. Plates, cups, bowls and pitchers are on display both inside the boutique and outside; there is a wide array of products to choose from.

Part of the appeal of Polish stoneware is how unique each piece is and how it can be used as either a dish or for home decor. The pieces will never be mistaken for something that comes from Pier 1 Imports or Macy’s, she said.

Men will appreciate Polish stoneware for its durability, Chakos said, adding that it is easy to clean, thereby eliminating excuses for washing the dishes.

Abrams originally founded Pottery Avenue, based out of Bremerton, Washington, a wholesale importer of Polish stoneware. The purpose of Pottery Avenue Cottage, however, was to move from a large-scale operation to a smaller, community-based business.

“We went straight to the global thing instead of the community thing,” Abrams said of Pottery Avenue, “so now we’re coming back down and really wanting to affect St. George in a positive way.”

Chakos said the renovation of the historic home was a joyous experience, adding that he tried to make the boutique into a “perfect place” for Abrams. She had a vision for what she wanted it to look like, and he would work to manifest that idea. It took approximately six months of work to get the home ready for the opening.

Twila Abrams, proprietor of the Pottery Avenue Cottage during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Twila Abrams, proprietor of the Pottery Avenue Cottage during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, St. George, Utah, June 3, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“We call it her glorified office,” he said. “So she can enjoy it — selling and working with the pottery.”

Renovating the site was not simply for Abrams’ benefit, Chakos said, it was also about providing a welcoming location for the St. George community.

“It’s not just about selling the pottery, it’s about getting to know our community,” he said.

Abrams will also operate the larger Pottery Avenue corporation from the comfort of the Pottery Cottage location.

Both Abrams and Chakos were gratified by the turnout for the ribbon-cutting.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s what it was meant to be. It’s what it was supposed to be; a celebration. People who have helped us along the way — being able to say thank you to them.”

Opening the shop to the community was the most important thing, Chakos said. Already they have heard from several people whose lives have been touched by their store and their products.

“The stories that we hear, it really touches your heart,” Chakos said. “And we open that up, it’s not just about selling the dishes, it’s actually about getting to know the people.”

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Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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