Tucked between an electronics repair shop and a dental office on Santa Monica Boulevard is The Clayhouse, a subtle, quiet, nearly hidden pottery studio.
Along the strip mall street are businesses screaming their services in big, bold fonts: iPHONE REPAIR! TABITHA’S PSYCHIC BOUTIQUE! CALL NOW! And then there’s The Clayhouse, it’s minimalist storefront nearly deceitful once you walk into its doors.
“People don’t know about this place, and I’ve been here nearly 30 years,” Amy Kivnick, public relations and artist for Clayhouse said. “I think because we don’t have big attention-grabbing signage, people walk by it. To find this place is a gem.”
After greeting a museum-like sales floor, walk towards the back of the building and the lifeblood of the pottery studio reveals itself– artist’s bodies swiftly a moving past each other, voices rising to speak over whirring machinery, weathered hands stained with clay forging future pottery, and people of all ages, color, and lifestyles working side by side or together on passion projects. And yes, in an act of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness, there’s a poster of ‘Ghost’ inside.
Wares created by the artists will be on sale this weekend for the Clayhouse’s summer sale, June 29 and June 30. The studio is having a sale to “share art and appreciate the work of pottery,” tapping into what the studio says is a recent resurgence in the craft, making this season a busy one for the studio.
“People are spending more and more time in front of screens, tablets, and smartphones, so I think people want an alternative, a release,” Diana Ungerleider, a teacher at the studio said. Ungerleider has been with the studio since 1978, teaching and helping others to find peace through creation. “Pottery — whether you’re making it or just appreciating it — it’s responsive to your touch. It’s therapeutic.”
Kivnick echoed Ungerleider’s words, adding that what makes Clayhouse stand out from other ceramics stores and a deluge of hipster and “millennial… no offense” pottery stores are their methods and combined experience the studio has.
“We collectively have over 100-plus years of experience. The owner, Tani, has been doing it for decades, I’ve been at it for 30 years, Diana, 40. It takes thousands of hours to get good at anything, and that mastery shows through the work. It’s not factory made from something like a Pier One that’s mass-produced. Every piece is lovingly made by hand.”
Clayhouse is located at 2909 Santa Monica Boulevard. Their Summer Sale takes place Friday, June 29 from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, June 30 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The sale will feature sculptures, hand-crafted bowls, mugs, platters, and teapots among other items. Aside from the sale, the over 50 person studio has classes and memberships (all wait-listed at the moment).
Visit http://www.theclayhousesantamonica.com for more information.