Help Us Reopen Our Pottery Studio!
Since Jill Hinckley first opened Hinckley Pottery in 1968, we have offered classes and community to many thousands of adults and children. But now, our future is uncertain. The landlord of our new Washington DC studio has embroiled us in a battle that is costing us funds we do not have. We need your help to reopen so that our more than 200 students a week can once again have a space to create pottery. They may be aspiring or accomplished potters and come to us from all over the United States, Latin America, Europe and as far away as Asia, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. And some have gone on to become professional artists. Many consider Hinckley Pottery their personal clay studio and an unparalleled resource — a place to get hands dirty, meet interesting people and share the magic of turning mud into functional objects.
In late 2012, we learned that our lease would not be extended beyond 2015. Our former landlord, a health care nonprofit, had plans to expand. After 25 years in our thriving studio space, we were forced to move. Two and a half years later we found a large, unused former stable that would be perfect. Though it would take a great deal of work, there was enough room to add a second classroom plus individual workspaces and it was just a short walk from our first pottery studio. We felt we had come full circle in a very good way.
We did our part, but our landlord didn’t do his, and now he’s gone even further and taken legal action against us.
On July 1, 2015, we signed a 10-year lease with a January 1, 2016, start date and launched plans to transform the space into a functioning pottery studio. The intention was to transition from our old location with no significant down time, move in over a short holiday closure in December 2015, and reopen early in January 2016.
We refinanced our home and liquidated personal retirement savings to pay for our share of the build out – over $200,000.
On September 2, 2015, a day after we were to take “possession of the premises” to begin work, the property manager called to say there was a delay in installing utilities. There was still no water, gas or electricity. But he assured us things would be ready when our contractors were scheduled to begin in mid October. That did not happen. And now, over a year later, our landlord has still not completed the work. The sprinkler water line is not functional, meaning the space is not legally habitable.
In the fall of 2015, our contractors discovered that the water line to the sprinkler system did not have enough pressure. A custom-made pump would be required. The landlord ordered one in mid December 2015, but we discovered in June when electricity was finally connected, that it was the wrong voltage and would not work in the building. To fix it requires a $46,600 retrofit that the landlord now claims is our responsibility. We have tried in vain to find a resolution. Instead our landlord is taking us to court!
We have put virtually all our resources into this move. Our lost revenue already exceeds $300,000 and continues to climb.
All we want is to open our pottery studio, start teaching again and get our hands back into the clay — but to do this we need your help!
Your gift of $25, $100, $1000 or more will go a long way toward saving our studio.
To find out more about us, please check our website: www.hinckleypottery.com
Tomorrow a pre-test of the sprinkler pump is scheduled and if all goes well the retrofit will be inspected sometime next week. We are keeping our fingers crossed there won't be any hiccups.
We cannot thank you enough for your generous support and encouragement through a very difficult time. It has meant so much to us and enabled us to resolve some of the problems we were facing. Workers were making final adjustments to the fire pump today and we hope to have city inspections early in January.
The tiny clay house ornament in the photo was made years ago by Joan Gardiner, Jill Hinckley's first apprentice.
Again, many many thanks and best wishes for a peaceful new year!
Meanwhile, Jill Hinckley's bisque pots wait to be glazed. Soon, soon!
Classes are set to resume in January, registration is now officially open and new students are signing up. But it will be months before we can get back on an even keel financially. That's why your support has been and continues to be incredibly important to us. Thank you so much!
We are especially thankful for the many supporters who made donations to our fund and sent us words of encouragement. They truly have sustained us through some very dark moments.
By the end of this week, we should know how long it will take to get the studio up and running again. We hope to open for limited studio hours later in December. Class registration begins now and our full class schedule will resume in January.