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Watch for local artist's work on NBC's "30 Rock" next month

NBC'S "30 ROCK" will use props made by Wakefield potter Julia Passamonti-Colamartino during a show sometime next month.

NBC’S “30 ROCK” will use props made by Wakefield potter Julia Passamonti-Colamartino during a show sometime next month. Photo by Daymond Steer - Staff (click for larger version)
December 26, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Local potter Julia Passamonti-Colamartino doesn't know how NBC's Emmy-winning program "30 Rock" will use the two Roman-style vessels she created for an episode in January, but she is looking forward to finding out.

"I can't wait, I'm totally excited, " said Passamonti-Colamartino, 50, of Wakefield, who plans to watch the show with her husband Dino. "I feel really good because it's a well thought out and put together show, in my opinion. It's too funny, I would say it's on the same level as Seinfeld."

She was told the actors will be carrying the pieces, but there's no telling what will happen to the vessels, which are called Amphoras. A possible clue is the ancients used the tall skinny variety of Amphora to carry wine and the short-stocky kind to hold oil. She made one of each for the show. The vessels are about one is 17 inches and 19 inches long.

"30 Rock" is a zany comedy about the inner workings of a fictional variety show called "TGS with Tracy Jordan" It features Tina Fey as TGS's head writer, Alec Baldwin as a network boss, and Tracy Morgan as the star of TGS.

The amphoras are scheduled to be part of episode number 409 called "Claus and Greta" to be aired sometime next month. Passamonti-Colamartino said she doesn't mind if the actors smash her works to smithereens.

"They can do whatever they want," she said. "I can always make another one."

Whatever the reason, the need for two ancient vessels was urgent. NBC's prop man Kevin Ladson called her at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 and said the show's script called for two old amphoras and he needed them by the following Tuesday. The vessels are distinctive because of the two large handles on their sides.

"They were desperate to get some amphoras," said Passamonti-Colamartino.

Ladson found Passamonti-Colamartino's business, Venetian Cat Studios, through its Web site www.venetiancat.com. Passamonti-Colamartino operates the studio out of the basement of her home on Concord Lane. The couple has lived in Wakefield since 1998 but has plans to move to Maine.

The Venetian Cat specializes in reproducing ancient Greek, Roman, and Italian renaissance pottery. Local demand isn't very strong because her work is so specialized. But she does get orders from all over the world including Australia, France, the Netherlands, and Canada. She says her Web site is interactive, meaning people can submit custom order ideas for her to make. Several of the submissions have become popular sales items.

Initially, Passamonti-Colamartino refused the job from "30 Rock" because she didn't think there would be enough time to do it properly. But an hour later, she called Ladson back to tell him she'd be up to the challenge.

She stayed up till 2 a.m. that night throwing pottery sections for the amphoras. Then the next morning, she got up and assembled the pieces. Because it was raining that weekend and there was extra moisture in the air, it took extra effort to get the pieces to dry on time. She and Dino dried the amphoras upstairs so they could dry in front of a wood stove and a dehumidifier. Then the amphoras spent all of that Saturday night in the kiln. The amphoras were ready an early and she delivered them to a currier who agreed to meet at her mother's home in Lexington, Mass. on the following Monday.

Dino helps Passamonti-Colamartino with the business by making copper stands and Macrame (rope art) for certain projects. However, she says his most important function is cooking dinner. The couple met in Italy and Passamonti-Colamartino affectionately referred to him as her "import."

Passamonti-Colamartino credits the success she's had to the power of positive thinking. More specifically, Passamonti-Colamartino was inspired by book called the "Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace Wattles and an online course based on the book run by Rebecca Fine.

"My belief was artists are always are always broke and they starve," she said. "Once I began to change that belief by doing the course, jobs started to come in."

Since adopting a more positive outlook, she got the "30 Rock" job, an order from Fox Studios, and a piece of art displayed in Discovery Time Square in Manhattan, New York as part of an exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci. Prior to her new philosophy, she sold her artwork through Roman reenactment festivals.

Passamonti-Colamartino has operated the Venetian Cat since 2004 but she has been an artist all her life. While a child living near Boston, Passamonti-Colamartino said her mother, Camille, immersed her in the world of art. Camille was the head of the art department at the schools in Belmont, Mass. Her father, an Italian immigrant, named Gino, was a prominent dentist who specialized in making dentures.

"I have a mother who is an amazing artist and she is also a history buff like me," she said.

Passamonti-Colamartino chose to name her business the Venetian Cat Studios because she's a self described "cat fanatic." She is the proud owner of five felines.

During graphic design school she completed an assignment where she had to make a deck of cards. Her deck's design included cats dressed in Venetian garb. One of the Venetian cats became her company's logo.

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