BY BECKY FULTON – STAFF WRITER
Tucked away under the back staircase in Danville’s Community Arts Center lies a colorfully renovated pottery studio open to the public. Run by Education Director Maggie Haskett, the ceramics program includes the Paint Your Own Pottery (POP) Studio and ceramics classes for kids and adults. “We have two adult classes, wheel throwing and a ceramics sampler,” said Haskett. “We also have a K-8 kid’s class.”
The ceramics program is in its third year at the Community Arts Center, having added the POP Studio after the closure of Muddy Creek, another paint your own pottery shop on W. Walnut Street. “I was personally devastated” said Development Marketing Director Kate Snyder. She felt the community still needed this pottery outlet, and brought the idea to the Community Arts Center.
“Kate was the first conduit to bring pottery here,” Haskett said. “And we’ve been able to find money to grow the studio.” The shift in location was easily made in an area such as Danville due to its relatively small size. “This is the benefit of working in a small community,” Snyder said.
Once the POP Studio was renovated into a bigger space with tables and a large wall of many different glazes, many people have come in to take advantage of this opportunity. “It can be a cheap way to blow off some steam,” said Snyder.
The process to use the POP Studio is simple, and previous experience is not required. People can come in on the days the Community Arts Center is open, go down to the studio, and pick the piece they want to paint. The premade pieces range in price from a few dollars to around 30 or 40–including mugs, platters, and other gift items. Along with the price of the item there is an eight-dollar studio fee for adults and six-dollar fee for kids, which covers the cost of the glaze and firing the item in the kiln to dry. The process of firing the items takes ten days, and then the item can be picked up.
The POP Studio is also available for rental by groups for parties or other events. “They can be really fun as private parties,” said Snyder. Both Snyder and Haskett are hoping to draw people into the Community Arts Center with the POP Studio, then become inspired to take the ceramics classes. “The next step would be to make [items] yourself,” said Snyder.
There are three instructors for these ceramics classes, all of whom have their own areas of interest, and their personal pieces are on display in the hallway outside the ceramics studio.
Jonas Hurley is the Wheel-Thrown Pottery instructor, and has his own wood fired kiln at his farm in Springfield, Ky. The students he teaches work in his class, then at the end they schedule a weekend to work in his personal kiln.
Catherine Thomsen is the instructor for the kid’s classes, and has taken classes from Hurley. Thomsen specializes in hand-building and structure within the kid’s classes, where they can work with the clay without using the pottery wheel.
Alexandra Hawkins teaches the Ceramics Sampler class, and graduated last May from the University of Kentucky with a B.F.A. in Ceramics. She works with slip casting and pit firing her pottery. Pit firing means Hawkins can work in a garbage can by firing everything that is in it, and as the objects in it melt, they interact with glazes for a coloring that is a surprise to all when it is finished. “She is our most experimental potter,” Haskett said.
For those lacking inspiration on a painted piece of their own, the program also offers a guided painting class. A studio facilitator helps people pick out glazes and look through inspiration books to gain ideas.
Overall, since the ceramics program was started at the Community Arts Center, the popularity for its classes has only increased. “We’ve seen growth across the board,” Haskett said. Whether students or staff are looking for a fun activity or a group event, the Community Arts Center’s website has all the most up to date information regarding ceramics classes and hours.