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For the Love of Clay
Phil DeSantis

by Barbara Rich

Twenty five years ago, just after we moved to NC, I took my first pottery class and I fell in love with clay!!!

I have been ‘playing with clay’ ever since, taking classes at Chapel Hill Parks & Rec, Duke Art Center, Tinka Jordy’s, Claymakers and a week long class at John Campbell Folk School.  In 2000, I bought my own wheel and turned my garage into my studio.  I never did get my own kiln, so I would drive to Claymakers in Durham every few weeks to glaze and fire my work.   In order to have room for new pots, I had to get rid of the ‘old’ ones, so I started selling at small street fairs and Hillsborough’s Last Fridays.

Pottery done by CM Residents

I continued this way till my husband, Bob, and I moved to Carolina Meadows.  I read in their info packet that there was a clay studio available to residents, so I was happy.   Then I learned that the kiln was old and there was no one who knew anything about the studio.    A bit disappointed, I set up my wheel in our villa’s garage and continued to drive to Durham to fire and glaze my pots.

Then CM contracted with Debbie Englund to teach clay classes in the studio downstairs in the Club Center, and it all changed!!  In order to provide a complete clay experience for her students, Debbie proposed buying a new kiln. She had been carrying student work home to her own kiln.

I met with Debbie and her class and we decided to contribute toward the cost of the kiln.  RA donated a portion and CM covered the remainder.  The kiln was delivered and tested early January and is now in regular use for the pieces produced by the class and me.  Debbie has brought in many lovely glazes and is in the process of mixing a few more that will be tested very soon.

Pottery done by CM Residents

Once the kiln was installed, I decided to donate my wheel to CM, so now I throw, glaze and fire pots all in one place.  It is such a pleasure for me to have a fully functioning clay studio here on the CM campus.  As a bonus, Bob & I now use the garage for a car!

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