Pottery Classes with Heart
If you follow this blog, you might have noticed I really like art classes and art-related activities. My kids do too. (Do they have a choice, really?) They’ve had fun with different materials and tried interesting techniques – some at home, some at school and some at various extracurricular activities. But they’ve never worked with clay before. That is, until I met Kim Ries, a local artist and the owner of Heartfelt Traditions Pottery in Florence, MS. Now my son says he wants to create pottery for a living. I’ll have to ask Kim if she’s hiring 7-year-olds.
Classes for Adults
I found out about Heartfelt Traditions Pottery from Facebook. One of their classes popped up on my Events feed. (By now, Facebook learned my preferences too.) This particular class was for adults – making and painting your own mug.
To make sure you have a spot in the class, it’s a good idea to call the store and tell them you’re coming. You pay for the class once you get there. There is no need to pay ahead of time.
Once I stepped into the store right on Main Street downtown Florence, I was surprised by how spacious it was inside. It has a very attractive, contemporary, rustic style and a warm welcoming atmosphere. Mostly, because the owner greets everyone personally and is involved in every project her students are working on.
A few minutes of talking to Kim are all it takes to know art is her passion and joy, and she delights in sharing this joy with others. She spends most of her time here. This is where loyal customers place and pick up their orders. This is where Kim and her family create their pottery and wall art. This is where aspiring artists, young and old, come for their classes. The large facility is three-in-one: the studio, the workshop, and the store. The magic happens right here, in front of your eyes.
I was a few minutes late and a little worried that I might disrupt the process. But as I found out later, all the participants work at their own pace. There were eight people creating their own mugs (from scratch!) under the watchful eye and with careful directions from Thomas Ries, Kim’s husband, a welder and artist.
At the same time, there was a lady next to us working on completing her vase. She created it during Step 1 of her class. Then came back the following week after the vase was ready to be painted and glazed. For her, this was Step 2. So while the rest of us were still working on Step 1, shaping our mugs from soft clay, she came back to complete Step 2. The fact everyone is doing his or her own thing was fascinating to me. Later Kim told me this lady has been creating various pottery items for her home décor for a while now. She regularly comes to work on her next project and Kim customizes the process for her. Kim says: “If someone has an idea and wants to be creative, I am happy to provide the materials and the guidance needed to make that happen.” The pay is customizable, too. You can pay for one class and leave with your special mug. Or you can start a long-term journey of creating pottery and pay as you move forward. I love this personalized approach. There is so much heart in it.
My mug turned out very pretty. I used a stamp shaped as the state of Mississippi. Others created clay flowers to decorate or decided to paint their creations once they were fired (but remember, that would be Step 2). I’m going back to see what my mug looks like after firing and to apply a coat of glaze on it. I’ll update this blog with a picture of my mug’s final look.
I learned a lot about the challenges of working with clay (did you know that a small air bubble inside the clay could potentially cause an explosion in the oven?!). And I had a TON of fun creating my mug and talking to Kim and Thomas. I knew I just had to bring my kids next time.
Bunnies for All!
I was so happy to learn that a kids’ class at Heartfelt Traditions Pottery is a walk-in all-day event. Parents can drop in anytime during the day, typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and start their project when they are ready. There is always a staff representative to guide you through the process. And it doesn’t get too busy because the visitors come at different times throughout the day. Heartfelt Traditions Pottery used to offer classes on Saturdays only, but local homeschooling families love the classes so much they requested more of those during the week. Kim was happy to oblige. They now have various activities during the week.
The projects are simple enough that children can follow them easily. Kim said: “In fact, children do better than adults sometimes, because they aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and they aren’t afraid of imperfections.” Among the many projects for kids are pinch bowls, handprint art, painted plates.
My kids got to make cute clay bunnies. When we got there closer to the end of the day, there were at least 50 other bunnies already waiting to be fired in the oven. We added ours to the party. They turned out really cute and each one unique in its own way. Both of my kids said they had a lot of fun and loved it more than any creative activity they’ve done in the past (and they’ve done MANY, so that says a lot).