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               Monday, August 26 2002  

Where are they now? Ceramist Naomi Kovach



Naomi Kovach in her Nanty Glo ceramic shop.

Noni with husband Frank Kovach

Noni with a girls' ceramics class.

Born February 18, 1924, to Louis Martin and Sarah (Smith) Martin, "Nonie," as she likes to be called, is the last surving member of her family. Siblings Paul, Russell, James, Clifford, and Margaret are deceased.

Nonie has been married to Nanty Glo native Paul Kovach since June 5, 1948. As we sat in her Nanty Glo ceramics shop surrounded by tools of the ceramic trade; the bottles of paint in every imaginable color, cleaning tools that include very sharp knives and special sanding utensils, and shelves displaying ceramic figures and containers, some partially painted and others bare, this very soft-spoken lifelong Nanty Glo resident and kindly senior citizen explained to me, the ceramic process, from the "slip," the thin plasterlike liquid poured into the molds which, when dry, forms the basis of "greenware," the most breakable unfired stage.

"Greenware is as delicate as a fresh egg," Nonie says. The first "firing" in a kiln hardens the greenware to the bisque stage; the piece is more durable and can be painted, but not used for food containers. For ceramic containers to be food safe they must be coated with a glaze that, when heated to a very high temperature, forms a glass-like coating that seals in the paint and makes the surface safe for contact with food/liquid.

"I'll give you six months, my husband Frank said. That was 30 years ago. I started with a group of 20 women. More wanted to come but I couldn't take them all!" Nonie teaches ceramics to people of all ages. A group of senior citizens are transported via van to her shop every Monday. "I love my senior citizens; it's a great time for them and they love it."

Proudly displayed on the wall is a framed certificate from a local Girl Scout Troop, which says "Its people like Nonie Kovach who make this such a wonderful world for Girl Scouts to live in."

"Every year I have a different group of youngsters who come to the shop and make Christmas gifts for their parents." Teaching ceramics to children and senior citizens isn't her only community-based involvement. Nonie has been a member of the Nanty Glo Beautification Committee since it was founded approximately two years ago. "We just want to beautify the town, and we're always looking for new members to share their ideas with us." Their most recent project was the completion of the small gazebo park on Chestnut Street.

Memories of Nanty Glo: "I worked as a clerk in the office of the Heisley Company store...at one time, we had thousands of miners as customers. We had some very nice stores in Nanty Glo in the past: Shadden's Department Store, the Acme Market...all of them gone now."

One particular memory comes to mind. "Father Little from St. Mary's church asked me to repaint the statues from inside the church, I agreed, but didn't know they were life-sized...they were so big they had to be delivered to my shop in the back of a truck...five of them!"

Her hopes for the future of Nanty Glo: "I hope for the economy to improve and if we could get everyone to pull together it would make a better town."

Anyone wishing to extend a hello to Nonie can send their greetings in care of HRoses2@peoplepc.com.


If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy Rose.

You know you're from Utah when...

  • You installed your new computer using a leatherman tool
  • You hear the word for "stream" or "brook" pronounced "crick"
  • The elevation exceeds the population
  • You've broken down on the highway and somebody stops to help you
  • You can see the stars at night

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

Truth with love brings healing. Truth with love enables us to see ourselves as we really are. Truth with love helps us grow. Truth with love brings about change. A hammer sometimes misses the mark; a bouquet, never.

Anthony Coniaris,
Daily Vitamins for Spiritual Growth

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