Belmont's clay pot people

Dennis and Patsy Collins are quite a team: She comes up with crafty ideas and he turns them into reality.
Their latest venture is what they call their “clay pot people,” which are yard figures made out of terra cotta flower pots.
Patsy, chief financial officer at Mantachie Clinic, got the idea out of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine article she saw about 10 years ago. The photos that accompanied the story featured a clay pot person – just arms and a body – sitting on a bench.
“I kept telling him I wanted him to build me some pot people,” she said. “I always have an idea. He’s really good at doing my ideas. Thank heaven for him.”
In 2007, Dennis obliged and began working on the figurines in the afternoons after he’d get home from work at Marietta Manufacturing in Golden, where he’s the plant manager.
“When I come home in the afternoons, it’s something I do to relax, to get away from the routine of work,” he said.
Most of the pot people are made from four large pots for the body, head and legs, and four smaller pots for the arms. Dennis drills holes in the pots and runs a rod through the middle of them to hold them together. The “dog” pots are the most difficult to make.
“It doesn’t take long to build the people, maybe 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “It takes a lot longer to build the dogs because they’ve got more attachments.”
The couple’s pots have been known to stop traffic on their busy street in Belmont.
“People stop in the road and put on their flashers to look at them,” Patsy said.
“One day a lady held up traffic with her camera when she got out to take pictures,” Dennis added.
Patsy “dresses” the pots for every occasion, including Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July, and she does a fall theme to acknowledge Halloween and Thanksgiving.
“People say, ‘I drive by your house just to see what you’ve got new,’” Patsy said. “I just love to decorate. I put up seven trees in the house at Christmastime.”

Old home needed work
The clay pot people adorn a beautiful, tree-shaded yard that surrounds one of the oldest homes in Belmont. The couple bought the 1907 home from the Allen family in 1993.
“I’d wanted this house forever,” Patsy said. “Every time we’d pass it I’d say, ‘I want that house.’ And Dennis would always say no. It needed a lot of work and he said he didn’t want to sink our retirement into it.”
Finally, Dennis said, “I’d put Patsy off long enough. But that house was in such disarray when we bought it.”
Because the home had been empty for quite some time, all the porches were rotted out and the breakfast room floor had fallen through. Ivy was growing inside the home and termites had feasted on beams in the dining room. There was no electricity in the home and 20 layers of cheesecloth covered some walls.
The couple worked to shore up the old home, supplying new plumbing and wiring, turning a split staircase around, finishing out the second floor and rebuilding the kitchen from top to bottom.
Their next project is the outside of the home.
“I want to redo the front porch to give it a more Victorian look,” Patsy said. “When we first moved here, I had everything decorated in a country theme. It had a farmhouse-type look. But little by little, I’ve been moving from country to a more antique look. That seems to suit the house more.”

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio