Artist at Home in Bucks County
Guide to Retirement Living, Winter 2012/13
By Mary Clark
Photography courtesy of Mary Clark and Allure West Studios
Enjoy what you do; good advice and lucky people discover it early. Sylvia Roman was always drawn to pottery, the art and craft of working with her hands to create something beautiful and useful. Following this passion led naturally to many other interests. Whether crafting a vase for one of her favorite Ikebana flower arrangements, experimenting with glazes or teaching others how to throw a pot, Sylvia is doing what she loves to do.While teaching pottery in the Pine Run Craft Barn, Sylvia Roman came to know Pine Run and the people who live there. A full service retirement community owned and operated by Doylestown Hospital, Pine Run is popular among active and artistic seniors. Drawing inspiration from a location well known for harboring creative types, Sylvia’s ceramics classes came alive with resident artists, designers and adventurous others taking full advantage of the new instruction and energy.
An accomplished potter, Sylvia is a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Crafts. She has exhibited locally including in Philadelphia and has been featured in shows and galleries throughout Canada and the United States. She became known for her skill in the ancient primitive Japanese process of Raku, where the piece is grabbed from a blistering hot fire and smothered in sawdust and leaves, allowing the smoke to chemically alter the liquid glaze and adding a unique metallic luster.
“My husband Robin assisted me pulling the pieces from the flames and was relieved when I shifted my focus.” explained Sylvia, “He jokes about finally growing his singed eyebrows back.”
The couple met as young University students in Canada, Robin destined for pharmaceutical research and Sylvia for pottery. After living and traveling all over the world, they found Bucks County to be as beautiful as any place they had ever been.
Sylvia credits their happy marriage to having similar tastes but different approaches. “Robin has a Ph.D. and works with his brain; I have to jump in and learn by actually doing it,” she said.
“We went to France last year to attend cooking classes and had such a great experience; we are going to take a class in Italy next. Robin is a wonderful cook,” said Sylvia. “I like it too, and I know how to debone a turkey.”
To support these interests and more, a unique 1,300 square foot cottage with a vaulted ceiling and skylights is taking shape at Pine Run. The new cottage features a gourmet kitchen boasting all the bells and whistles, a media room and a potter’s personal studio. Ebony cabinetry will complement a large Chinese brush painting of bamboo and horses.
“We found the painting in our travels; the design sensibilities are wonderful, and I love horses,” explained Sylvia.
Relocating for a time to Great Britain for Robin’s job meant that Sylvia had to sell her kiln and equipment, trading it all in for jodhpurs and boots. She seized this new opportunity to ride around Surrey’s country estates. Most fun was participating in old-fashioned pub rides full of good fun that held the promise of comfort, camaraderie and a pint at the end of a long ride.
This same adventurous spirit now leads Sylvia to Pine Run Community in Doylestown. “I really love it here,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to walk right out of my door and over to the Craft Barn.” She says she feels a complete sense of happiness in this creative environment, working in the muddy water of a slip bucket, using her donated potter’s wheel as a teaching tool. As part of this new adventure, Sylvia is excited to see others give rise to a curvy pot or vase to sell at the Fall Festival or to be wrapped and given as a treasured personal gift.