Photo: Bear Cieri
Brielle and Mitch Rovito
It’s said that, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you should make it yourself. Ceramicist Brielle Rovito seems to have taken that philosophy to heart.
A year ago, Rovito got married and moved to Burlington from Minneapolis, Minn., to be closer to family. Leaving a ceramics-focused shared studio, she was hoping to find something similar in her new home, but didn’t. So she started the Form Collective
, which now hosts three ceramicists in a cozy second-floor studio at 180 Flynn Avenue.
On Tuesday, May 22, 5-9 p.m., Rovito will host an open house with her studio mates, Taylar Main
and Lindsay Van Leir
, who moved in over the winter.
Photo: Bear Cieri
Liindsay Van Leir
The studio is now full to brimming, with racks of bowls, cups and vases waiting their turn in the kiln, but for a long time it was relatively empty, Rovito says.
She likes the company. “I want to be making, but I also care a lot about making with other people. I’m such an extrovert,” Rovito says. “Being this solo, solitude artist only works for five minutes.”
Just as importantly, having studio mates helps with bills. When Rovito started looking for a studio with kiln access in Burlington, her budget was just $300 a month.
“Financially, Burlington is insane,” she says, seated at a raised wooden counter in her studio that looks out over a neighboring rooftop. “[Three hundred dollars] can get you a corner under a staircase here.”
The week after her honeymoon, Rovito moved to Burlington, met up with a property manager and went on the hunt. In the first location they looked at, the carpeted floors and small bathroom wouldn’t work for messy ceramics work. Then the property manager showed Rovito the upstairs studio.
“It was triple what we could pay,” Rovito recalls. “We had just gotten married; we were pinching pennies.” But she was enamored of the space and realized it would work better for her in the long run.
So she and the property manager worked out a reduced rent that would allow her time to find tenants to share the studio. She sold her car, bought a kiln and moved in.
“Anything was on the table at that point,” Rovito says. “We just sort of jumped in and were like, OK, well, let’s hope people respond.”
For a while, she didn’t get any bites. But slowly, by connecting with other ceramic artists in the area and advertising through the South End Arts and Business Association
and Craigslist, Rovito found the kind of colleagues she was seeking: ones who were beyond the hobby artist stage but could share a production space and benefit from a collective environment.
Ceramicists in need of a space to fire their work also can lease time in Rovito’s kiln, for $50 a load; she also plans to offer limited porcelain-casting workshops.
While the three female ceramicists who now share the studio focus on functional wares, each has a distinct aesthetic. Rovito is a slip caster, making porcelain ware using a mold. Her work is elegant and simple: white and black glazed porcelain cups, bowls, mugs and other items with clean, smooth lines.
Photo: Bear Cieri
The other two throw on the wheel, creating a variety of vessels. Main employs inky glazes and splashes of color to evoke moonlit, star-strewn skies. Van Leir opts for earthier tones and materials — rough grains and greenish hues.
“If we had similar work, it would be harder — but it’s really obvious to see our [distinct] styles,” Rovito says. Not that she’d mind a little overlap. “Maker people can get weird if you’re doing things that are similar,” she says. “My whole mantra is that there’s space for everyone. There is space in this tiny little town for everyone to do their thing.”
Now that the studio has tenants, getting back to “doing her thing” is her goal. “[The Form Collective] has become, in a big way, so much of my life,” says Rovito. “I still want to keep the focus on making my work.”