BLUE BELL -- The Scandinavian concept of hygge – essentially, contentment and well-being – is a familiar one in Danish culture, and Lynn Hoffmann hopes the sculptures she creates in her Hand and Wheel Pottery studio foster that sense of tranquility. The Blue Bell artist is currently guest exhibitor at Art in the Storefront, 14 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, and her work will be on display through Sept. 15.

The Springfield (Montgomery) native grew up surrounded by Danish relatives. And although hygge drives both her personal creative process and teaching approach, she considers the concept particularly apropos during times of uncertainty.

“People bring different viewpoints to art -- art of any kind -- but I like to think I make pieces that bring people together, instead of making them feel more separated,” Hoffmann said. “Some of my wall hangings contain words like ‘trust’ and ‘grow’ and other inspirational markings, and they’re usually popular…which, I think, means they satisfy the same need in others.

“I’m a totally positive person. And with all the technology we use today and, now, the angst and anxiety people are feeling with this pandemic, I think it helps if people can look to the teachings of some of the world’s great spiritual leaders to see beyond their own problems to some of the larger issues … to positives like the joy of accomplishing something together. We’re all struggling with something -- family issues, jobs, money problems. I just feel that people need positive affirmations.”

Hoffmann “loves working with my hands…whether it’s metalwork, cooking, gardening, just about anything with my hands” and believes the lulling motion of working amorphous wet clay into a recognizable shape can’t be beat for “taking people out of the heaviness of their lives and into another mental universe.”

“It’s a lot cheaper than therapy, and you go home with a butter dish or a beer mug,” she said. “I just love it when people leave my class elated about something they’ve created, something that’s uniquely theirs. I have students from every (walk in life). But I try to connect with people’s spiritual side … the side that has nothing to do with status.”

Hoffmann’s Art in the Storefront exhibit runs the gamut from decorative totems to free-form inspirational plaques and serving ware. Her inspiration is equally eclectic.

“Watching a beautiful sunrise over Karamoor farm, other art that I put my own twist on … architecture, wrought iron, which has some of the same twists as clay, different cultures, clothing patterns, especially block printing,” she said. “I’d love to go to (Jaipur) in India to study block printing, but, really, you can find inspiration just about everywhere.”

Hoffmann traces her penchant for pottery to elementary school and considers her first ceramics class – at the age of nine – as the beginning of her “addiction to clay.”

“We made pieces from poured molds and wet clay,” she remembered. “The whole process, to me, was very satisfying and intriguing.”

Classes at Springfield High School gave her access to a potter’s wheel, and although she majored in illustration at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Hoffmann “was really magnetized to the clay studios there as well.”

Some 30 years later, the local woman’s packed professional dossier reflects her varied training and travel via entries from assorted gallery shows, private commissions, graphics and web design work and signage, banners and murals for special events. Regardless, teaching others at her Hand and Wheel Pottery studio or Art Center at Ambler is clearly near and dear.

“No matter where I teach, it’s always a place where people can come to let go and immerse themselves in creating their sole creations, which allows them to have a lot of fun, be productive and have freedom from life’s grind,” Hoffmann said. “These experiences are so very satisfying and remind us how good it feels to know we can be successful in trying on a new experience where there is no judging and only fun along the way. When I see students letting go and going outside of their norms in my classes, there’s nothing better in the world. And…ultimately, it’s a process that also ends in functional pots for the kitchen, home décor or sculptural pieces that last forever as reminders of a time well spent creating with others.”

Hoffmann’s classes are appropriate for “people of all ages and all levels of experience, including private classes for co-workers who are team-building, families, Boy and Girl Scouts earning badges, church groups making First Holy Communion plates and baby showers.”

Additional information about her offerings at Hand and Wheel Pottery (recently reinstated with COVID-19 safety protocols in place) or Art Center at Ambler is available at Hand and Wheel Pottery’s Facebook page and artcenteratambler.org.

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