PIERCE — Scott Peekenschneider wants to fire up a love for pottery in Northeast Nebraska.
On any given Friday, in the late afternoon, the Pierce native can be found at Peekenpots in downtown Pierce, spinning clay and shaping vases, bowls and whatever other pieces of ceramic art come to his mind.
“It’s great for stress relief,” Peekenschneider said.
He began selling his pottery creations — he calls them Peekenpots — from the office building at 106 W. Main Street in Pierce earlier this year.
Within a few months, he intends to have the building set up as a place where Northeast Nebraskans who are interested in learning how to throw pottery can come to get their feet — er, hands — wet.
Peekenschneider said his interest in pottery began back in high school, when his art teacher, Tim Waldner, introduced him to the medium during a class. The lesson left such an impression on him, he bought an old kick wheel when the school auctioned off old equipment before its move in the mid-1990s.
Peekenschneider stored that wheel at his father’s place, where it remained virtually untouched until he bought his first home in Omaha nearly 15 years later. Thankfully, his dad didn’t seem to mind, he said.
“It was one of the big ones with the huge cement wheel on the bottom. My dad is pretty cool,” he said with a smile.
After taking the wheel to Omaha, Peekenschneider began going to Clay Works in Omaha, where he spent five years taking an eight-week class for several hours on a Tuesday night.
“A lot of people did the same thing,” Peekenschneider said. “They offered a class that was one night a week, and you could come in on off hours, too. It got me to do more, and it gets different people doing different things.”
In 2015, he decided to return to Pierce, a move Peekenschneider said he insisted many years earlier he would never make.
“I was glad I was raised here, but I swore when I moved away, I would never move back,” he said. “Then I got married, and my stepson, Isaiah, came with (my wife). I just started thinking, if I was so grateful that I was raised here, then why would I not give that to my kids?”
Peekenschneider, a real estate agent, said it was common practice for him to give his pottery to clients as gifts when they closed on a purchase in Omaha. But for three years after moving to Pierce and opening a Mid-Continent Properties office there, he didn’t have the space to throw pottery, so the list of clients to whom he owed pieces grew.
When he finally set up his equipment and caught up on his list, Peekenschneider decided to continue making pottery to sell at the downtown building that once had been the original location of his father’s business, Home Center Specialties.
He creates the pieces and dries them in the downtown building and then takes them to his home outside of town for firing and glazing. He then returns the pieces to the downtown building, where they are displayed in the front.
Peekenschneider said the large area toward the back of the building — which he donated as temporary storage for Pierce Museum items displaced by the flood — would provide enough space to set up the multiple pottery wheels he has purchased. The set-up will allow him to demonstrate how to throw pottery while beginners are handling their own clay.
“Teaching is best if you can show what you’re doing, and they have a wheel, as well,” he said.
Peekenschneider said he hopes to have the building completely set up early next year. It also will serve as the new location for Mid-Continent Properties’ Pierce office after the first part of the year.
“We want to start (renovation) in November or at least December to get this squared away,” he said.
In the meantime, Peekenschneider said Peekenpots would be open from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. each Friday, and he’s excited for the opportunity to get more people in the area interested in pottery.
“My main goal is to get more people to do it. It’s not a competition. It’s a community thing,” he said. “To be able to have a community of people around doing it, it just helps spark you and makes you go further.”