Playtime at the Clayground
I’m always looking for new fun things to try, whether for date night, a girls night out, or even something to enjoy on my own. I came across the Clayground Studio in Ellicott City about 4 years ago during Main Street’s Midnight Madness. At the time I wasn’t looking for an experience, I just walked in to take in some of the artwork and see what was for sale. It was a cozy retail space in the front, with studio space in the rear and downstairs. On display was artwork, jewelry, glassworks and pottery from a variety of local artists. I left with a set of paintings from a local artist out of Annapolis for my office, and a business card for the studio.
In time, I went back to check out their classes, and signed up to try out a class. My friends and I signed up for a multi-day pottery class in which we met once per week for six weeks for a couple of hours of working a clay wheel to create our own pieces. The instructor was fantastic, taking us through the basics first: learning how to knead air out of the clay (wedging), wheel attachment, keeping it balanced. Over the next few classes, I made a bowl, a plate and a vase with minimal help and I felt like I really was learning how to do it. After the pieces were heated in the kiln, we returned for glazing and was able to pick up our finished pieces just a couple weeks later. I proudly keep these out on display, one at home, two in my office.
After the devastating Ellicott City floods in 2016, the Clayground changed owners and locations. The new family knew the special place the Clayground is to both the local artisans and the community. They reopened in their new space at the corner of Main and Old Columbia Pike. Their new shop offers a larger pottery studio upstairs, and glass studio space on the main floor where nine instructors provide instruction in wheel throwing, hand-building pottery, mosaics, and fused glass.
The studio is opened six days a week so can grab a coffee and peruse the gallery to see exhibits and demonstrations from many local artists even when classes aren’t in session. And York, the owner’s black labrador, hangs out in the studio and greets everyone who comes in. They offer special events like drop in classes, Maker’s Weekends, group classes, and Mud and Merlot, date nights and more. The Clayground maintains a monthly calendar on their website so you can plan your visit, and their Facebook page features pictures of recent events and completed pieces.
On a recently trip, I took the kids in for a Maker’s Weekend, a drop in class that offers quick instruction on glass fusion on set offerings. We each made our first glass fusion piece with their easy to follow instruction and a seemingly endless offering of glass types on colors. We spent about 45 minutes learning about cutting and grinding glass and putting our masterpieces together. It was so much fun to see how the kids put their own spin on the medium. About two weeks later, our finished products were ready for pickup and we were so excited to see how they came out!
The kids are hooked and regularly ask when we can go back. I’ve already planned a trip back next month for a ‘Crafternoon’ they are holding to glaze heart shaped pottery. It’s just a fun time, working with your hands, surrounded by great people and beautiful artwork. I hope you’ll check it out. Say hi to York when you go!