Must Visit Spots on Orcas Island: Orcas Island Pottery Studio

Penny Sharp
Penny Sharp

Studio Potter, Penny Sharp Sky, creates beautiful and functional pieces that inspire you to host a dinner party – just to show them off.

What causes a woman to stick her hands in mud? What makes her stay there, shaping it with her palms and her fingers as it sticks to the tops of her shoes and the tip of her nose?

Is it an obsession? A need? 

After seeing Penny Sharp Sky’s work, I’d say it’s more accurately a gift. Her pieces border on ethereal, speaking to her deep respect of the earth and history.

Using a hand-built style, she presses patterns into the clay with objects she’s found and those she’s been given – like a lace dolly passed down from her grandmother. Ultimately, she hopes her work, “Connects us to the long history of that creative impulse which is what being human is all about,” Penny explained.

You’ll find Penny’s work and the work of several other talented potters at Orcas Island Pottery – an active pottery studio and gift shop.

Orcas Island Pottery

Penny joined the studio in 1988, shortly after she arrived on Orcas Island. At the time, the studio was 43 years old. (It was opened in 1945!)

The studio’s first home was a log cabin. Originally the home of a fir trapper, the cabin was dismantled and traded to the studio’s founders, Joe and Marclay Sherman, for just 4 plants and 4 bowls! Today, the cabin is more than 150-years-old and still houses a large selection of wares.

Standard plates and bowls aren’t all you’ll find as you wander the quaint grounds located on West Beach, just 3.5 miles outside of Eastsound.

There’s vegetable wall décor. 

And stunning oversized sunflowers.

You’ll find ceramic lizards.

And cups with splatters and cups with swirls.

The showrooms, including large outdoor displays, highlight work from more than 10 different artists. It rests beside a 100-foot bluff overlooking President’s Channel. And while you’re there, make sure to check out the tree house. Built just beyond the log cabin, this multi-room, multi-level structure offers a beautiful view from its top perch.