For the past three years, artists at The Melting Pot in Dagsboro have been working within their custom-designed studio to keep a unique art form alive.
The shop’s shelves are stocked with bowls, vases, dishes and ornaments — all ceramic or blown glass and made just feet away. To the three artists who sell their artwork at the shop, it offers them the opportunity to be a part of a rapidly developing artistic community.
“When we came here, we thought it was such a growing area for the arts and if we could get into it early, then we could be in this community,” said Kim Doughty, one of the Melting Pot artists. “And it has really rocketed ever since.”
The three artists who sell their work in the shop all graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2001 and received degrees in each of their specialties. Doughty focuses her work on ceramics while the two other artists, Philip Adkins and Justin Cavagnaro, work with glass blowing.
After graduating, Adkins, who is originally from the Dagsboro area, convinced Cavagnaro and Doughty to come to the town, where they would design and build the shop, as well as everything inside.
“By building it ourselves, we were able to figure out exactly what we wanted without relaying it to someone else. We just did it,” Doughty said.
Since they started the business, the artists have displayed their work throughout Ocean City, Bethany Beach and Dover but said they hope to eventually branch out to larger showcases, such as those in Baltimore and New Jersey.
“We’re continuously looking to do bigger and better shows that will expand our work,” Cavagnaro said. “Each year, we go further out, distance-wise, from the shop; and even though it would be nice if we could do well enough that the shop was the end-all-be-all, there’s also something to getting out there and talking to people.”
Hot summer days can make for sweltering conditions inside the studio, where the temperature can reach up to 115 degrees, but, according to Cavagnaro, their work provides enough distraction that they don’t even notice.
“When you’re in there working, you can just forget about the heat, and before you know it the day is done,” Cavagnaro said. “There’s such an addictive nature to the material.”
When he was about 10 years old, Cavagnaro said, he saw his first glass-blowing demonstration at a craft show and became interested in the art form from that point on. While pursuing his art degree in Philadelphia, Cavagnaro said, he became hooked and “there was no turning back.”
The artists also make the shop available for the public to visit and watch them in action during the week. They hope that by allowing others who may have only seen the creation of a piece on television, or perhaps never at all, they may be able to instill a similar passion for the increasingly rare art form.
To set up a time to go to the studio while the artists are working, or for more information on The Melting Pot and its artists, call (302) 732-1325.