I started my google search and a visit to SF ClayWorks near Silver Terrace.
It was about 22 miles from home but in the middle of the day, a 20 minute ride on HWY 101. Located within an industrial office park, it was hard to imagine that there were artists working within its walls. A relatively new space and very organized still…noted the new gas kiln with only 4 firings. While the class times were flexible enough, they put restrictions on what you are allowed to do with your work once its finished…limited glaze colors and can’t sell any of the pieces I make. That put a damper on my needs. Studio spaces were another option but there were none open…plus it was out of my price range.
Another 20 minute drive through local streets of Mission is Ruby’s Clay Studio.
Very “colorful” and hilly. In fact I parked perpendicularly on the hill that seemed like it was about a 30° incline. First steps into the studio included a light an airy gallery space. Further exploration into the space was quite an adventure. A general work space with about 10 wheels and a small hand building station was probably for people who are taking classes. The rest of the 2.5 floors was divided into what looked like a 8′ x 8′ personal studio spaces for artists. I lost count after 20 artist spaces that had the feeling of walking through the catacombs. It should have a sign that said “only serious artist work here”. I didn’t get to meet any instructors or office managers, but a few flyers were available for me to browse the fees and hours. Based on the location and fees, this wasn’t for me either, it would be a 45 min drive in good traffic and very little space for non-studio artists.
I heard about San Mateo’s Parks and Recreations Ceramics Studio from Nina at SFClayWorks, so I paid a visit on Saturday morning. (No picture to included…website is generic info about class information). This one is like “the little studio that could”. The park included the San Mateo Japanese Tea Garden and this morning, there was a group practicing Tai Chi in the lawn…it was a good sign. The studio was nestled between the community center, tennis courts and the baseball fields. (I had to call into the main Parks and Rec office to help me find it.) The lone instructor teaches at least 5 classes that were listed for adults (possibly more if you included kids summer camps), 4 electric kilns, 10 electric wheels and about 5 kick wheels. The space seemed incredibly small for the 12-15 people who were there, but the energy was good, cheerful and respectful. Parking might be an issue, street parking is limited with meters but a strip mall across the street might be a good option. After a brief discussion with the instructor, we agreed on Wednesday evenings and to help develop a few new glaze options.
I decided that I will start a new series of work inspired by my need for new set of dishes for my house. My hope that the recent adventures in the SF Bay area will inspire new forms, colors and designs in my pottery.
Not sure if this will be the Zenscape I hoped to find, but it’s a start. It is what I make of it…right?