At Greenport Pottery, countless hand-crafted mugs, vases, plates, and bowls line the shelves. Some copper, some sea blue, and others shades of beige.
And customers can rest assured that these pieces are not produced by machinery in a factory, but by a single pair of hands.
Behind the gallery is a simple workshop where owner Joseph Mitrani, 58, who has been making pottery since he was a teenager, opened the Southold shop in 1981. A Long Island native, Mitrani said he took a class while in high school but didn’t become serious about the craft until college when he worked as an apprentice in a potter’s studio.
“When I make something, I usually make many of the same shape,” Mitrani said, gesturing to numerous unfinished pieces that appear identical.
The workshop is quiet, save for the background noise of talk radio, and the space is free of any extensive machinery or molds.
“I suppose I could do larger numbers with extra machinery, but what I still enjoy is sitting at the wheel and making each piece one at a time,” Mitrani said while putting the finishing touches on a mug. “There are probably better things to mass-produce than pottery.”
Marion Wipf, who has been purchasing pottery from Mitrani for 30 years, said his unique yet practical designs are what make him one of the best artists on the North Fork.
“Joe’s work, the feel of the pottery, the shapes, and the colors are wonderful,” Wipf said. “Over the years, I have purchased a complete dinnerware set, each plate a different design. It makes for a very interesting conversation when entertaining.”
Mitrani remains committed to the rigors of truly handmade stoneware and raku pottery, using only a potter’s wheel and a few hand tools. This simple concept, he says, is what has kept his business going for so long.
“As far as the business end of it, I think it works for me because I’ve continued to do everything myself,” he explained. “I think people appreciate the singularity of the stuff. It’s not something you’ll find in any store anywhere.”
Greenport Pottery is located at 64725 Route 25 in Southold (near the Greenport border). Reach Mitrani at (631) 477-1687.
Boutique Beat is a recurring features that highlights the small, independent shops of the North Fork