Denton resident shares his passion for pottery through Lalabee Ceramics – North Texas Daily
From painting to drawing, 22-year-old Casie Cheek has always been passionate about the arts. However, pottery and ceramic work are where the artist found his true passion.
“When I was around 17 to 18, I decided it was something I’d like to do in a hardcore way,” Cheek said. “I came [to ceramics class] every week since I was 15.
Cheek began selling his ceramics to friends and family. She specializes in mugs but can create other pieces like plates, flowerpots and vases. She started her business, Lalabee Ceramics, in 2018 to help fund her own ceramic hobby and take classes at Miriam Studios.
In addition to posting on social media, Cheek has grown her business by getting involved with local vendors.
“Casie has been so awesome about everything, including building her following and sharing her passion,” Cheek’s friend Kingsley Cochran, 35, said. “It was really inspiring. I hope to end up getting where she is on social media.
Her passion for ceramics began when she started taking classes with her sister at Miriam Studios.
“Casie did more than just summer camp when she started — she started coming during the school year on Saturdays for classes,” said Miriam Mitchell, owner of Miriam Studio and teacher at Cheek.
Cheek took classes until middle school, but it wasn’t until her second year of high school that she began to seriously pursue art and studio classes. For the past seven years, she has taken a ceramics course and has taken it every week.
Cheek has encountered her fair share of health-related obstacles along her artistic journey. Cheek said pursuing pottery has been difficult due to his costochondritis, a condition that inflames the cartilage that connects his rib and breastbone. Cheek said the disease causes pain similar to a heart attack and particularly affects him when using methods that require upper body strength, such as throwing – a technique used to shape ceramics.
Cheek was also forced to take a year-long hiatus due to COVID-19 as she could not return to the studio. Additionally, Cheek has encountered similar issues that other Denton vendors have struggled with. — shortage of materials. Cheek said it’s extremely difficult to find elements that go into making a glaze, such as cobalt. She said the prices of other materials have also increased, thanks to the scarcity of their availability.
“Even clay is hard to come by now, it’s crazy right now,” Cheek said.
She also had issues with pricing levels on the vendor scene. A cup usually takes three weeks to make. Cheek detailed that it’s a long process as it has to be cut, discarded, then cut again before being glazed. After that, the mug should bake in the oven. This process takes between two and three days.
Due to the tedious process and inflated material prices, a mug usually costs between $40 and $45.
“People are scared of the price and I don’t know how I could make it cheaper, because I can’t because of the materials,” Cheek said. “It’s hard to do and it’s hard to compete.”
However, these problems did not prevent her from continuing to create ceramics. Even through the adversities she faced starting Lalabee Ceramics, Cheek said she continues her hobby because she loves and truly enjoys making art.
“I enjoy the fluidity of ceramic,” Cheek said. “You have to understand that nothing will be completely identical to the last. One will be taller or longer, or it will dry differently. I love that it’s organic and fun to watch.
Cheek hopes to bring more diversity to Denton’s art scene.
“I feel like nobody really does ceramics,” Cheek said. “We don’t have a clay guild in Denton […] it’s up to everyone to join.
Cheek said she believes ceramics grows in the heart of Denton. She said it was coming soon and expects to see more ceramic art soon.
“Ceramics are so much fun,” Cheek said. “The most fun thing is making all the plates, all the cups, all the pots. I did everything for my house. It’s fun to make something that’s functional and that you use every day and think, “I made this.”
Casie Cheek begins shaping clay into a vase on July 25, 2022. Kristian Freeman
Casie Cheek poses while making a vase on July 25, 2022. Photo by Kristian Freeman