Pottery class at Yellow Door Ceramics Studio open
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In a former dairy complex near Fall Creek Parkway and Keystone Avenue, experienced potters Felissa King and Amanda Pennington make their dreams come true. Over the summer, they quit their steady job in financial administration to open their own ceramic studio.
The result? Yellow Door Ceramics Studio, a one-stop-shop for pottery lessons and clay needs for ceramic enthusiasts in town.
The co-owners envisioned it as a way to expand Indianapolis’ clay community, which they say is growing so rapidly that classes at other popular ceramic studios are often full.
“I call it terrifying,” King said. “Terrifying and exciting all at the same time. Because it really is a scary leap to go from having a regular salary, a regular, set schedule, to being responsible for the success of your own business. And, but at the same time, realize a dream.
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The duo contributed around $40,000 from their own savings to rent, renovate and upgrade the space they have now turned into their new ceramics studio.
To keep costs down, they did most of the renovations themselves. They spent two weeks painting the studio’s 79-foot sage green wall. Working from dawn to dusk, they tested glaze recipes, ventilated the kiln, built shelving, hung lights, mixed glazes and built work tables.
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Yellow Door Ceramics Studio offers six-week beginner pottery classes for $205 as well as one-night classes for $45 that are “perfect for date night,” King said.
Experienced ceramists can pay a monthly fee to become members. Members have access to the space from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and can use the community enamels, shelves, and ovens. Depending on the amount of storage space members want, the fee is $100 or $150 per month.
Pottery community spaces help people maintain the hobby, King and Pennington said. It can be expensive or impossible to buy and store pottery equipment – like kilns – in your own home. Pennington said she used to rent out her house and was not allowed to install the electrical and plumbing needed for a home ceramics studio.
“A lot of people as adults don’t feel like artists,” said Pennington, who holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in ceramics from Western Kentucky University. She said she hopes her new students at Yellow Door Ceramics Studio can reconnect with their creative side through the studio.
The couple have 15 years of pottery experience between them. Pennington specializes in wax resist and line resist techniques. Her style is influenced by the bold lines and colors of 1970s fashion, she said. One of her favorite pieces to make is a tooth fairy jar, a small round pot inspired by a childhood ritual: his mother slipped the children’s milk teeth into a small metal pot and under their pillows for the tooth fairy to find.
King is proficient in the Mishima and Sgraffito techniques, which respectively involve embedding glazes into ceramic designs and sculpting wet clay to reveal a contrasting colored surface below. She is currently working on creating botanical motifs for her ceramics.
King said she was excited to develop her pottery teaching skills and pass on the tips and tricks she learned during her seven years of experience as a potter.
“For example, she says, I was always taught to center (the clay) with my left hand and to rest my left arm on my leg. But I’m not the strongest individual and it took a lot of strength trying to keep my arm steady and push it against the clay.
Resting her left arm against her hip bone helps keep it more stable, she found.
“For people with a smaller frame or who have trouble centering, giving them this advice actually makes a huge difference for them as they try to figure out that first stage of casting on the wheel,” King said.
The process of spinning a ball of clay on a wheel and shaping it into beautiful ware with your bare hands can be therapeutic, said King, who studied sculpture while training to be an art therapist in college. .
“You get out of your head and just focus on what you’re touching,” she said. “It’s not about perfection.”
“I don’t think there are many prodigies in pottery,” King said. “Everyone starts at the same place, so you don’t have to feel like there’s a skill level required to get in, and it’s really fun and almost anyone who wants to try can do it. “
Yellow Door Ceramics Studio is located at 4201 Millersville Road, Suite 104.
Contact IndyStar reporter Ko Lyn Cheang at [email protected] or 317-903-7071. Follow her on Twitter: @kolyn_cheang.