A Visit to a Pottery Studio

We did something really fun yesterday: we went to an open house for a pottery studio! The Kansas City Clay Guild sponsored a Holiday Sale and Pottery Tour involving several studios around the city. We had big plans to make it out to the Rafter E Studio to see Tara Dawley‘s pieces, but the girl had to help her grandma with some chores and the hubby had to do a long run and before we knew it we were out of time. We had to be happy with going to 323 Clay, which is two minutes away on the historic Independence Square.

And it was SO COOL. Obviously we’ve driven by it many times, and my husband had been once before, but I’d never been inside. They rent studio space, offer classes and workshops, and have a gallery space. The first two rooms were filled with gorgeous mugs and vases and teapots and platters, then you move on back and there were booths set up in the roomy studio space in the back. Down the stairs was another little booth. There were several artists displaying their pieces; at least five, maybe six. We were greeted by David Lee, the studio owner and artist, and he showed us around enthusiastically. We got to see his kilns, which were numerous and huge, and he explained a bit of the process to make pieces look the way they do. It was so interesting to see things in the various stages, from the unformed clay to works in progress to unpainted items to painted but unfired pieces. I loved seeing the little handmade touches: a glass rim that’s not perfectly round, the faint finger marks in a delicate cup.

My son thought the snacks were the best part of the tour. One of the neatest touches was that David had made a bunch of ceramic cups for guests to use while there and then take home. Seriously, free pottery! How cool is that? So we each picked one out.IMG_3296 IMG_3297 IMG_3298I like how each one is slightly different. Even the ones with similar colors are like variations on a theme. My daughter picked out the pink one. I think she likes to stand out. These are fun little cups, perfect for juice, or scotch, if you’re my husband.

Of course we had to take something home. I really wanted to get something from David’s collection because he was so personable and welcoming, and he had wonderful pieces. The teapots, which is what I really coveted, were out of my price range, but there was a soft green mug with hints of red that I liked. I also liked this big red mug, and I was glad it was the one Alex decided he needed.IMG_3299But I kept coming back to this mug and it said it needed to come home with me. I’m not sure why, because it’s not a color I typically gravitate toward. But it’s such a lovely pale shade of turquoise with the palest hint of pink inside. It’s an appealing shape and the handle has such interesting line details. I just…needed it.IMG_3312This is by a different artist, and I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get her business card or even her name. The mug says Percival on the bottom, and the price tag said CJP. And she had so many other pretty things that I imagine I’ll be going back for more in the future.

It was a wonderful little adventure, and it made me wish we’d taken the time to do more of the tour and hit other studios. We love to see real people making a living from their passion, to see examples of art and creativity taking root in the community. And a unique handmade piece is so satisfying!

So if you’re in the Kansas City area and love pottery, you might check out 323 Clay. They’re open by appointment or by chance, so call the studio and set up a time to visit. I’m sure David will be happy to show you around!

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