The students in the Clay Mix studio on Wednesday night called their class “clay therapy.”
It’s a messy process that requires them to knead out heavy blocks of clay to prevent air bubbles before they set it to spin on a pottery wheel. Each piece the students produce takes about four weeks to complete at minimum.
In addition to the weekly classes on offer, the studio is home to a creative space for local ceramic artists. It also hosts an ArtHop exhibit every month.
Ritsuko Miyazaki opened Clay Mix after she moved to Fresno and realized there was no studio space for ceramic artists like her to join.
“Right after college you have no money left, it’s hard to buy a kiln and a potters’ wheel and whatever equipment you need,” she said. “I really wish I had a studio like this when I just moved to the Fresno area.”
Sharian Sowell, a teacher at Fresno Unified, has been at the studio for six years. Initially, she just wanted a ceramic strawberry tower, but ended up hooked.
It’s almost a lifelong interest for Amy Emrany, who took ceramics classes in high school but took a 35-year break from the medium.
“Sometimes you say, ‘oh I’m going to make a bowl or I’m going to make a pot,’ but it doesn’t work out that way,” she said. “So you go to plan B. And if that doesn’t work, you do plan C.”
Wednesday’s class was led by Garrett Masterson, a Fresno-based artist who will showcase his work at the studio during August’s ArtHop. He’ll also have a solo exhibition in September.
Since Clay Mix opened in 2008, Mizayaki has noticed some growth in downtown Fresno’s arts scene. ArtHop especially has drawn more young people in, she said.
“Hopefully more people will find space around here, so we can become more of a community,” she said.