Building community a pot at a time

 

Last updated 11/29/2022 at Noon

KATY YODER

Mose Lenowitz operates Pottery House in Tumalo.

How can brightly colored pots and curated indoor and outdoor landscapes create community connections? Mose Lenowitz has figured out how. With an extensive background in garden pottery, home décor, and landscape design, Lenowitz braided together the three to enhance people’s lives. The answer is simple… when you feel good about your home, you feel better about yourself. A welcoming home inspires time together with family, friends, and your surroundings.

Driving by Lenowitz’s Tumalo store, Pottery House, you can see an array of multi-colored pots from the highway. What people can’t see is everything else he offers. You have to slow down, turn on Cook Avenue, and pull up in front of his store. Once you walk through the jewel- and earth-toned pots to go inside the welcoming, well-planned retail space, the magic happens. Lenowitz wants Sisters Country people to know he also sells home décor gifts, small-batch, locally made art pieces and indoor house plants perfect for this time of year. His business started two years ago, but everything he’s selling was chosen because of what’s he’s learned from many years in business.

Before opening Pottery House, Lenowitz spent 15 years importing pots for corporate and individual clients. He learned that in climates like Central Oregon’s, frost-proof pots from certain Vietnamese makers were best suited to survive unpredictable weather patterns.

“We have frost-proof pots appropriate for the High Desert,” said Lenowitz in his Tumalo office. “A lot of people are moving here with warmer climates’ pottery, which can’t survive our extreme temperatures. They’re often attached to those pieces so it can be very disappointing.”

Visiting factories and seeing the many ways pots are produced, Lenowitz learned that Vietnamese pottery is some of the strongest pottery on earth.

“It’s because the clay has a lot of silica, and they fire it in excess of 2,500 degrees in dragon kilns,” he explained. “That silica base fuses together into an impenetrable wall, so less moisture gets in to expand and crack the pottery.”

Finding makers that produce frost-proof pots that are also vividly colorful took Lenowitz some time.

“If you know how to access the best factories and chemists in Vietnam, who use the highest-quality chemicals in their colorings, then you end up with products that are much more vibrant than a lot of the pottery on the market,” said Lenowitz. “The bright colors and glaze don’t peel off or crack because it’s baked on. I call my pottery Heritage Pottery, because it’s going to last, and you can pass it on. It’s not going to break unless you drop it on a hard surface.”

Lenowitz always had a vision of where he wanted to end up. It would have a river and mountains, and a small house, close to nature. He wanted to be part of a small community that was a real community.

“Then this location came up and I remembered Tumalo from when I was going to the University of Oregon, when there was just a gas station. The location is convenient for Central Oregon and Sisters Country folks. You don’t have to go into Bend to get what you need. A lot of my ending up here is kismet. I really appreciate how Tumalo is maturing while retaining a small-town feel,” he said.

Pottery House started because Lenowitz saw an opportunity to bring back an era when people were more neighborhood-focused.

“They knew their neighbors and hung out with them more. I wanted to be in a business focused on making your house more of a home; a place that feels welcoming and reflects your personality. I started to get more into home décor because creating a stylish sanctuary feels good,” said Lenowitz. “You want to share it with others. I inspire people to recreate their landscape and home, instilling a sense of pride. Pots are a signature piece that gives a great first impression and completes your landscape.”

Home is a conduit for connection with family and friends. When a home has been enhanced and curated with pottery that reflects the people living there, it encourages more connection with old and new friends. In today’s world, where that kind of connection is often missing, it can enhance communities and neighborhoods, connecting everyone in a way once common in American life.

Visit Pottery House at 64653 Bruce Ave. in Tumalo. Contact Mose Lenowitz at [email protected] or call: 415-533-0879.

 

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