(credit: clayinaroundpottery.com)

(credit: clayinaroundpottery.com)

Winter is the perfect time to take up ceramics; the kilns provide the warmth and the desolate weather provides the inspiration to do something creative. Film lovers will recall the ultra-romantic scene in “Ghost” when throwing a pot on a revolving wheel turned into a major moment in cinematic history. Ceramics has always been a favorite artifact in anthropological and fine art museums; indeed, there is something almost magical in transforming a piece of dirt into fine porcelain or glazed tchotchkes. Learning the art of ceramics has wide appeal because you can start with merely painting a piece of green ware and progress to the point of earning a master’s degree in fine arts. Whether you aspire to create something useful or strictly decorative, you will find these classes a great way to start your adventure:

Clayin’ Around Pottery
6551 Allen Road
Allen Park, MI 48101
(313) 386-2529

The ceramics novice will love Clayin’ Around Pottery; it is the best place to get a taste of ceramic artistry with minimal investment. Bisque pottery is already fired and on the shelf for you to select, and pieces begin at only $6. Studio fees are as low as $3.75 for adults and $2.50 for kids, and include paints, tools, instruction and glaze firing. At those prices, you just can’t go wrong. If two people work on a single piece, only the first person pays the studio fee – this is an outstanding opportunity for grandparent/grandchild projects.

Creative Arts Studio
114 W. 4th St.
Royal Oak, MI 48067
(248) 544-2234

Open seven days a week, Creative Arts Studio has 10 throwing wheels and open studios at no extra charge for enrolled students. Adult classes run six weeks and cost $150; there is a discount for signing up with a friend. The fee includes bisque firing and 20 pounds of clay.  Advanced students can work with specialty raku clay which yields spectacular metallic colors. Kids as young as six can also take classes which include pizza, pop and time on the throwing wheel. There are also summer camps and holiday classes for kids. Related art classes include glass fusing, beading, glass mosaic projects and precious metal clay which fires into silver pendants.

Ceramics by Bob and Hazel
108 N. Saginaw St.
Pontiac, MI 48342
(248) 334-8521

This store has the largest supply of ready-made green ware in all of Michigan. It is the perfect place to find rare and unusual ceramic pieces to paint, including ethnic designs and low-fire green ware glaze. The company can also pour specialty pieces and develop custom molds for large orders.

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Pewabic Pottery

10125 E. Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214
(313) 626-2000

Pewabic Pottery, along with Moravian Pottery in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, are the only surviving potters left in the United States from the “Arts and Crafts” movement during the Victorian era. The lavish works incorporated medieval, romantic and folk art into highly decorative pieces which adorned stately mansions in the Boston-Edison, Grosse Pointe and Indian Village neighborhoods. It is also used extensively in the spectacular Guardian Building. Pewabic offers both adult and youth classes, however the former are more frequent. Classes run for eight weeks and are offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuition runs $210, but is reduced for members of this 110-year-old institution. The most typical classes are for wheel throwing, hand building and tile making, but specialty classes in abstract sculpture and advanced techniques are offered for advanced students.

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine St.
Rochester, MI 48307
(248) 651-4110

Paint Creek offers over 50 different art classes, four terms per year, plus three weeks of clay camps in the summer for kids. The center focuses on the process of ceramic making, from start to finish, rather than just painting and firing a project made from mass molds. The center provides instruction to all ages – there are five ceramics classes for adults and six for kids. Tuition is competitive and would typically run $130 for kids and $185 for adults for a nine-week class. The large studio has two kilns, two slab rollers and nine throwing wheels, plus open workshop on Wednesday evenings for extra enrichment. The three instructors are ceramic artists and have formal academic training in fine arts.

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Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at Examiner.com.