COLUMBUS — Tucked behind a dog-grooming business, a rented space is home to a group of artists who spend hours a day creating their latest handcrafted clay pieces.
Dozens of containers of different glazes line the shelves and drying pottery is set out while waiting to be baked in the kiln. A potter’s wheel and several tables give artists room to work, and a showroom displays some of the finished pieces, including shiny bowls, detailed cups and fancy lawn decorations.
“We make everything from garden stakes to functional casserole dishes that you can bake in,” said Linda Wheatley.
She is one of the seven artists who started The Pottery Place, a cooperative of individuals who share a common hobby of working with clay.
The group opened The Pottery Place three years ago when Wheatley’s sister, Sue Mares, bought a potter’s wheel after taking classes led by Ruth Schlobohm.
Schlobohm, a retired Columbus Public Schools art teacher, taught pottery for Central Community College-Columbus through extended learning services. Wheatley, Mares and Bob Eaton were students in one of her classes.
Mares enjoyed making pottery so much that she purchased a wheel, but had nowhere to put it. A fellow pottery class attendee, Doris Lux, happened to own a building and kiln. She offered the space to them and it became a perfect match.
With the addition of Schlobohm, Marilyn Lamb, Amy Tomasevicz and Jane Duranski, the group of seven chips in to pay rent on the building where they create their pieces.
The Pottery Place is located at 2624 23rd St. behind Canine Clipping Creations. Usually, there is at least one artist there every day of the week working on a piece.
The amount of experience each has varies and they lean on each other for help.
“These are our mentors. If we have questions, we go to them,” Duranski said of Schlobohm and Tomasevicz, who were both art teachers.
Schlobohm was in the classroom for 38 years and Tomasevicz, who is also an accomplished painter, taught for 43.
They each have their own process of creating. Some sketch out their designs, others just start working with a thought in mind. It takes about a month for a piece to go from a lump of clay that is spun on potter’s wheel to a finished product.
Transforming the clay is almost therapeutic as an artist watches it spin on a wheel while using their hands to sculpt it into something new.
That is what Wheatley enjoys the most.
“I don’t always like the product, but I always like the process,” she said.
With seven people making their own artwork, the handmade pieces can start to pile up. While some keep a few of their creations, many are given away or displayed at The Pottery Place during open houses that allow people to view and purchase the pieces.
The next open house will be 5-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Refreshments will be served.
Although it's nice to make a sale, the cooperative isn’t about making money.
“We don’t really treat it as a business. It is more of a hobby venture,” Tomasevicz said.
One of the most important aspects of the group is the camaraderie that has developed between the seven through their shared love of the art form. They tease and joke with each other and share the cost of the products used to make pottery. They also take part in a monthly challenge, selecting a different kind of pottery for each artist to make. This month is clay tea pots.
The time spent together while bonding over pottery has created friendships.
“I have my tennis group and my golf group, but it is not the same as with this group because we can be here for hours,” Duranski said.