Bay School News

Teacher Profile - Nan Rothwell July 02 2017, 0 Comments

Nan Rothwell began teaching clay classes at the Bay School in 2015.  Her next class, Take Your Throwing To The Next Level, will be Saturday & Sunday, August 5 & 6 9:30am - 5pm.




Nan started making pots in England, where she studied in private studios and at the Harrow School of Art. Since 1973, she has been a studio potter in Virginia. She makes functional stoneware pottery that she sells in a variety of settings including juried exhibits, solo shows and galleries. She also teaches pottery at City Clay in Charlottesville and at multiple outside venues.  She and her son made two teaching DVD's that were published by Ceramic Arts Daily.  Last month, a new online teaching company called filmed Nan for a six-week throwing course that will be published soon. 

A few questions to Nan:


 What made you start teaching?

I had several generous, creative teachers when I first started potting, so I feel the need to pass the favor on.

What do you get out of teaching?

Two main things:   First, it's challenging and creative to help someone figure out how to take an idea and translate it into clay.  Second, since I am an introvert, teaching gets me out into the world and interacting with other people.  It's easy for me to just stay in the studio and work.  Teaching forces me to exercise my social side.



Tell me something people would be surprised to find out about you.

I fell in love with clay at 19, and except for a brief period when our children were young, I have been potting my entire adult life.  Recently, when we decided to sell our rural home and studio, I thought I would stop working in clay and try doing something else.  That idea lasted less than a month, and now I am in the process of setting up a smaller and more low-key pottery business in Charlottesville.  





Hard Work, Small Dreams: Bentwaters Farm June 16 2017, 2 Comments

 Off the beaten path and nestled on the shores of where Pepper Creek and the Mobjack meet, Larry and Rosalie Brown have built a flourishing farm out of hard work and dreams. Their white farmhouse rises from the marsh to greet you with all of the charm and humility only found in times gone by. The farmhouse was built around 1895 by one of the Armisteads, a group of brothers who built each other’s homes. It then changed hands to the parents of Paul Blanock, former Commonwealth Attorney, and in 1980 was purchased by the Browns.










A romance story of the truest kind, Larry was serving in the Air Force, stationed in England, when he met Rosalie, a children’s nanny. The two soon fell in love and he whisked her away to the United States, settling in Gloucester and later relocating to Mathews. Rosalie had always dreamed of living on a farm, “Growing up in England, I’d always wanted to be a children’s nanny or a farmer, and I was a children’s nanny for a number of years. When we came here, I just knew I was going to get sheep. My father and mother were alive at that time, dad went with me to get sheep and that just started it.” Having been exposed to the processes of spinning, knitting and weaving in her childhood, the progression to raising sheep for the production of wool was a natural one. For Larry, growing up in Hampton and a self-proclaimed “gear head”, the farm life offered a chance for him to return to his roots, as farming ran in both sides of his family lineage.



From a small dream, blossomed Bentwaters Farm and the promise of a simpler life. The Browns soon evolved from raising Dorset and Hampshire sheep, which are mainly used for meat, to raising sheep for the production of fine wool and wool products, which are handmade and dyed onsite. Over the years, their farm has expanded to include Dwarf Nigerian goats, English Angora rabbits, a bevy of chickens, Guinea hens, quail, a llama and bees.


Their love for their craft is evident, not only in the way they speak about what they do, but also in their passion to pass on their trade, both having taught in one capacity or another. Rosalie teaches a number of classes from dying to felting at The Bay School Community Arts Center, in Mathews and Rosalie and Larry have both done educational presentations at a number of historical sites in Williamsburg in addition to the programming conducted by Colonial Williamsburg.


The Browns have a deep and abiding love and respect for their animals that is apparent when wandering the property. When Rosalie walks among the goats and sheep, she calls each one by name and stops to visit with them for a while, often stopping to play with the young kids.


Bentwaters Farm is a member of the Middle Peninsula Artisan Trail and is open to visitors seeking to experience the hands on process of wool production. For more information or to visit Bentwaters Farm for yourself, visit their website: 

Teacher Profile - Tom Doyle May 04 2017, 0 Comments

Tom Doyle has been teaching bridge (yes, that card game we all used to play, and many of us still do) at the Bay School, for going on seven years now.  

Why would he do this? Well, mainly because they asked him to, and, with some reservations, he was happy to oblige. Tom had moved to Mathews from Northern Virginia, to be near his daughter Valerie. This was just after his wife passed away. He knew he didn't need to sit around and mope in his new Cobbs Creek house, and so he started playing bridge again (after a 35-year layoff). Bridge is a great game, easy enough to learn the basic rules, but very hard to play well, far more skill than luck. There were two long-running local games that he learned about, on Gwynn's Island and at the Woman's Club. So he joined those games, loved the competition, but also, and mostly, the wonderful social aspects that bridge provides. He soon felt most welcome and happy in Mathews, largely because of this.

(Early on, Tom and Betsy Paul, of Gwynn's Island, became regular bridge partners. Betsy's husband passed away a few years ago, and the two are now very close friends.)

Tom is not too bad a player, Word got around, and they asked him to teach. He had taught chemistry for most of his 35 years as a research chemist, worldwide in fact, but had never tried teaching bridge. This mere game? Why not? There were, as mentioned, some reservations. Those who know Tom know that he is totally deaf (he had meningitis as a young boy), so there are certain challenges involved. But things have worked out just fine, in fact this class being "different" is probably part of the fun. Seven years of it, and counting.

Tom Doyle was born in NYC in 1938, became deaf fom meningitis at age eight. BS in Chemistry, 1960, Fordham University. Ph.D in Chemistry, 1971, George Washington University. 35 yrs as Chemist, Research Chemist, Supervisory Research Chemist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Published extensively, patent-holder, lectured, taught nationally and internationally (Egypt, Venezuela, Scotland, Sweden, etc.). Retired in 2000. Now widowed, four children (two now in Mathews), five grandchildren. Dear friend of Betsy Paul of Richmond/Gwynn's Island.

In addition to teaching bridge (not only in Mathews but in Gloucester also), Tom is Director/Manager/Webmaster of the Mathews Duplicate Bridge Club ( He holds the rank of Silver Life Master in the ACBL, and plays often in games and tournaments on the east coast, winning his fair share.

Teacher Profile - Paul Michael Blais April 03 2017, 0 Comments

Paul Blais has been teaching photography classes at the Bay School for 2 years.  His next class, Using HDR Photography - Intermediate, is coming up on Saturday, April 29 9am - 3pm.

Paul received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota and was a registered Landscape Architect. He worked in a consulting office that did both public and private work. Some of it was traditional Landscape Design and some was related to private real estate development and expert witness testimony in matters of city planning and zoning. Later he moved on to information technology related to cities and counties. In 1998 he became an independent Software Developer and is currently retired. His renewed interest in photography progressed over the years and when digital photography was possible it was meant for his past and current passions to come together.  Paul has lived in Hayes, Virginia on Sarah Creek for the past 14 years with his wife and three dogs.

A few questions to Paul:

What made you start teaching?

My interest in photography goes back to my years in college creating presentations as a key part of the education. Standing up and explaining complex issues using visual tools was ingrained into my education and professional work. I have taught assorted subjects as a professional in data processing. I now offer classes in photography at the Bay School. I am also President of the James River Camera Club in Newport News.

What do you get out of teaching?

 If you really want deep understanding, teaching makes it more rewarding and exciting.

Tell me something people would be surprised to find out about you.

I have been very active in outdoor activities including camping, canoeing, and backpacking. I’ve spent 2 years of my life in a tent over the past 50 years in many places from the mountains to the shores. I’ve sailed for the past 13 years and have explored waters from the Delaware River to Charleston, NC including many places in the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. What is not surprising is that these experiences come through in my artwork.



Teacher Profile - Bobbie Skerrett March 08 2017, 0 Comments

Bobbie Skerrett has been involved with the Bay School for the past 3 years.  Her next class, Clay Relief Tiles, is on Thursdays, March 23 & 30 6pm - 9pm.


Bobbie attended the University of Colorado from 1969 to 1971.  After that she spent time at the Feminist Studio Workshop in Los Angeles, CA.  She also taken classes at the Penland School of Crafts in Pendland, NC.  From 1998 - 2002 Bobbie sold her work at the oldest farmers market in the country in Olde Town Alexandria.  Bobbie is currently a member of the Pottery Studio at the Bay School.


A few questions to Bobbie:

What made you start teaching?

 I started teaching wheel throwing because I wanted the students to see how fun it was to move the clay.

What do you get out of teaching?

There's an expression that takes place in the class room when people catch on to what they are being told and run with it.  It is inspiring to watch students discover something new and find a connection.

 Tell me something people would be surprised to find out about you.

Something people would probably be shocked to learn about me is that I do feminist art.

Teacher Profile - Rita Cutler January 30 2017, 1 Comment

Rita Cutler has been teaching classes at the Bay School since 2002.  Her next class, Beginner Rug Hooking , is on Saturday, Feb 11 10am - 3pm.  Register early to secure your spot!


Rita has revived the art of primitive and homespun rug hooking. She is the owner of the Primitively Hooked Studio in Mathews County. Rita combines traditional and new motifs with unique and striking color schemes.


A few questions to Rita:


What made you start teaching?

I love working with my hands and I love color and texture.  Therefore the art of rug hooking has always appealed to me.  I searched for someone who could teach me this old craft/art for many years while living in Va. Beach and continued the search when we moved to Mathews 20 years ago.  Finally my persistence paid off and I have been hooking now for 18 or so years.  When Wendy Wells approached me about teaching hooking at the Bay School I immediately said yes! I felt it was a small step in saving this beautiful old craft.


What do you get out of teaching?

I love teaching because again it helps to carry on the craft and I love seeing what my students will create.  Each piece is always unique and I love seeing each persons take on it.  At the end of the day I love walking away knowing that there are a group of new hookers out there!


Lions, Tigers & Bears...Animal Adaptations with Lee Jackson's 3rd Graders January 20 2017, 0 Comments

As part of our outreach programs within the Mathews community, we’ve teamed up with the 3rd grade teachers at Lee Jackson Elementary School to combine the arts with the subjects the children are learning about throughout the year. Our Gallery & Outreach Coordinator, Saraya Cheney, has spent this past week with each 3rd grade class, showing them how animal adaptations can be translated into pieces of art by exploring patterns, colors and silhouettes.

Saraya challenged the students to identify patterns and colors of animals’ fur, feathers, scales and skins by first looking at photos. The students were then asked to choose their favorite animal and create the patterns and colors of that animal’s outer layer with puck tempera paints. The final step was to create a silhouette of that animal to be pasted onto the animal print background.



Students were then able to share their knowledge of animal adaptations by talking about the animal they chose and how that specific animal’s fur, scales, feathers or skin allows them to survive in their environment.

Our program with the 3rd graders will continue next semester when we delve into the world of explorers.

Teacher Profile - Doris Hackworth January 02 2017, 0 Comments

Doris Hackworth has been teaching pottery classes at the Bay School since 2014.  Her next class, Beginner Wheel Throwing, is on Saturday, Jan 28; Feb 4, 11, & 18 from 1pm - 4pm.  Register early to secure your spot!


Doris Hackworth discovered the joy of wheel thrown pottery in 1981 through community college ceramics classes in CA. Nearly 30 years later in 2009, she took to the wheel again and has been taking classes ever since at the Bay School, the Visual Arts Center in Richmond, Nan Rothwell Pottery in Charlottesville, The Cultural Arts Center in Glen Allen, and the John C. Campbell Folk Art School in NC. Doris’ emphasis is on form and function. She loves making pots that have a job.

A few questions to Doris:

What made you start teaching?

I have always been a teacher in my heart.



 What do you get out of teaching?

I take huge satisfaction in promoting the joy of handmade pottery and being a part of adults finding a creative outlet they enjoy.

Tell me something people would be surprised to find out about you.

You might be surprised to know that I taught community college biology for a while and also worked for a language school teaching English to German speakers.


HOLIDAY SPECIALS! December 22 2016, 0 Comments

Shop creatively!  Shop local!  Shop at the Bay School!

We are offering the following holiday specials with online discount codes:

code JEWELRY - 10% off all jewelry

code ART$$$OFF - $200 off paintings by Gayle Merrill

code ART20OFF - 20% off Paul Blais Photography, Neck Tiaras by Brownie Haracivet, Works by Dale Peterson, and Paintings by Bob Carlson

code ART15OFF - 15% off Paintings by Lynn Scalise

code 10OFFART - 10% off Pepper Creek Pottery, Nina Buzby Baskets, Karen Hacker Paintings, Watercolor Boxes by Rebecca Grow, and Ellen Davidson Photographs

Come in and shop our gallery, or buy online and we'll wrap your gifts and have them ready to pick up.

Merry Christmas from all of us at the Bay School!

Teacher Profile - Nina Buzby December 01 2016, 0 Comments

Nina Buzby has been teaching pine needle basket classes and cello lessons at the Bay School for many years!  Her next pine needle basket class is Thursday & Friday, March 9 & 10.  Register early as her basket classes fill quickly!!  

Nina Eastman Buzby grew up in Richmond but has lived in Mathews since 1976. She retired in 2002 after 33 years as an elementary school teacher and administrator. Nina is the daughter of an art professor dad and musical mom. This has made her both musical and crafty. Although she has been involved in many kinds of crafts all her life, Nina was introduced to pine needle basketry in March 2003 at the Bay School. She has been making and designing pine needle baskets ever since. When not making baskets, you may find her playing the cello, singing with the Tuneful Teachers and ringing handbells with the BayBells. Nina began playing the cello in the Richmond Public Schools when she was 10 and studied privately with Paul Cartwright and Gesila Depcat of the Richmond Symphony, and was a member of the Symphony herself for 5 years during the 70's.  Nina plays locally with Strings & Things Musicians, The Festival Musicians in Kilmarnock and Trio Con Brio in Richmond.

A few questions to Nina:


What made you start teaching?

Both my parents were teachers, so teaching just came naturally. When you have a particular skill and are asked to share it with others, you do so willingly. I have to say it took me several years of making baskets before I felt I knew enough to teach the pine needle basket class.

What do you get out of teaching?

As a teenage baby sitter and camp counselor, I loved working with children; especially first graders. There is something exciting about being there when your students realize they can do things on their own. The same is true of working with adults. Being able to bubble things down into small steps that help students become successful is a challenge. And, seeing your instruction work for your students is a joy.

Tell me something people would be surprised to find out about you.

Most people are used to seeing me by myself around town. But, I have a very large family that comes often to visit Mathews. It is not unusual for me to host 27 family members for holiday weekends where they enjoy wave runners, a pedal boat, a canoe, kayaks, tubing, knee boarding, fishing, floating islands, go carting, cookouts, and family sing-alongs.