(Greenbridge Pottery 5159 Green Bridge Road Dayton, MD 21036)
The Greenbridge Pottery Studio & Gallery, a barn built by hand of lumber cut from trees that once grew on the property, quietly exists on over five acres of land in a rural pocket of Dayton, Maryland. Owner, Rebecca Moy Behre, a master potter, graciously allowed us to visit and discuss her love of all things old, handmade, and beautiful, including Oriental rugs.
When I arrived at Greenbridge Pottery Studio on a crisp February morning, it seemed that I was the only one there, aside from the group of chickens softly cooing in their coop, and I wondered if Mrs. Behre might've forgotten we were meeting. Later, after speaking with Mrs. Behre for about an hour, I would think that allowing me to be alone on the grounds for a few minutes was possibly intentional*; I was able to enjoy the natural and serene atmosphere and roam around freely with my camera trying to capture the feeling of this farm-like setting that means very much to her.
[*In a follow-up conversation with Mrs. Behre, I would learn that the true reason she was running a little behind was due to a deadline for her studio's largest, annual pottery order of the year for the James Rouse Enterprise Foundation.]
One of the first things you will notice about Greenbridge, even before stepping a foot in the studio, is the use of color; the barn is painted an expected shade of ruddy-red – much like the color of the studio's signature red clay earthenware – but it's accented with an out-of-the-ordinary, almost-neon green trim and deep purple-coated doors and windows that tip you off that something fun, inviting, and interesting is happening inside.
(A piece of stained glass decorates the entry at the studio)
Some time after I'd arrived, I was greeted by Michelle, the gallery curator, who asked if I was the girl with the rugs – yes, that was me and I did have rugs in my car. Mrs. Behre had requested that I bring a few pieces along on my visit that she'd noticed in our online shop. The studio already had rugs on the floor, but they were worn thin and faded and she wanted to replace them with vintage rugs that had a fuller pile and richer colors.
Eventually, Mrs. Behre joined Michelle and I in the studio, sort of silently appearing out of nowhere and jumped right in with deciding which of the four rugs I'd brought were winners. After we laid out each piece, she and Michelle thought the two Hamadan rugs felt the most right in the space.
This was not Mrs. Behre's first purchase with us, just two weeks before, she'd stopped in to pick up a sheepskin rug we'd carefully repaired for her and she ended up leaving with both her sheepskin and a vintage Persian Hamadan runner.
The studio is, by definition, awesome with something curious, artful, and pretty to look at in each and every corner. The pottery arrangements around the studio are all delightfully thoughtful, taking care to create cohesive displays of form and color, some pieces are even adorned with fresh flowers – a charming touch.
The studio is known for their spiral design that is spun into the bottoms of many of their various types of stoneware – vases, mugs, plates, cake stands, etc. – but there is also a repeating heart motif that underscored the fact that the day of my visit also happened to be Valentine's Day; they've created a space that is figuratively and literally full of heart and I was happy to be there.
After the rug choices were finalized, I sat down with Mrs. Behre for a few minutes to discuss her appreciation for handmade Oriental rugs and how it relates to her work as an artist.
Rebecca Behre: Because we’re an art business, everything being handmade is important to us. The character of a handmade rug compared to a commercial-made rug fits the character of our space. Even this building was built by hand from someone who milled all the wood from their own trees, a do-it-yourself kind of guy who lived next door, built this barn and cut all of the wood himself. That’s what I loved about this property when I bought it, it was a handmade space and you just can’t replace that. Everything we make is made here, everything we sell is handmade. We have filled the space with old furniture and fabrics that are handmade by somebody, a long time ago usually, but some of them are new; these placemats were crafted by a contemporary artist, a friend of mine, but most of the fabrics we have are old, the rugs we have are old.
(hand-crafted placemats made by Joe Buriel of Greenbridge Pottery Studio)
MSOR: Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade?
Rebecca Behre: Well, I think especially in these days when society can be very cold, people who have gentle, artistic hearts are looking for something that speaks to them from a more quiet and more personal time, a time when people made things by hand. It gives comfort, it gives peace in people’s hearts, and when people come here that’s often times what they’re seeking, they’re looking for a rest from the fast pace that they’ve been living in — they’re running from industrial things and looking for something that comforts them. During the holidays, I actually had a woman who came in — she wasn’t here to shop — she just came to rest her spirit. People do that, and so it’s our goal to enhance this space that’s already handmade and make it more handmade and full of heart, so I think the old rugs help. They absolutely complement the handmade quality of our work. They fit.
MSOR: How does being an artist yourself lend to your appreciation of hand-knotted Oriental and Persian rugs?
Rebecca Behre: My husband and I went to China for our honeymoon and we went to quite a few rug factories and we were just amazed at the process, just what’s involved with every stitch. It’s similar in the way that people hold our pottery and are able to feel our hands — they think that they feel a spirit that is placed in the pottery from our hearts and our hands, and I think I feel that from the rugs too — the weight of it, you almost feel every knot that was tied. And of course these colors, coincidentally, they really fit with the colors we use ourselves, our color palette. Deep, rich reds, and blues, and greens, some pinks, but all earthy, somewhat muted.
Rebecca Behre: We aim to make things that look good with food on them too, that’s important to us. We don’t want the glaze to be so powerful that the food is overwhelmed by the colors, but the rugs we’ve chosen clearly complement our glaze palette and all of our glazes are developed from one original glaze –they’re all related – but our most popular pieces are the ones that are the dark red stoneware which is our signature clay, the glazes on top of that clay give a sandy, kind of earthy rich color, and the clay actually burns through the glaze creating these dark lines, showing the spiral, and those are the ones that relate to these rugs the most, I think.
MSOR: What brought you to Main Street Oriental Rugs?
Rebecca Behre: Our pottery was used by Bean Hallow [a coffee shop that once operated on Main Street in Ellicott City] for 20 years and I am deeply entrenched in the Ellicott City community, so I know many of the shopkeepers, but I can’t believe I’d never been in your shop, and it all came about because my friend Sharon had taken her Nepalese rugs to be cleaned and she said “Oh, you oughta try it, it’s a really neat shop”, and so I came in with my old sheepskin, and then I have a weakness for old handmade rugs anyway, so I went kind of crazy!
(Rebecca Moy Behre, owner of Greenbridge Pottery Studio)
(cake stands set atop a vintage pump organ at Greenbridge Pottery)
MSOR: For anyone who’s interested in visiting your studio, do you offer classes or tours?
Rebecca Behre: We give tours all of the time, yes, and we have events of many different types. We have demonstrations days, we have concerts. We have special shows, like our Spring Chicken shows, where we introduce people to our chickens and people get to hold the baby chicks — we introduce kids to, you know, this is where eggs come from!
If you, dear reader, would like to visit Greenbridge Pottery Studio, you can find more information here: