Of Classes and Clay
Finding the perfect gift for the holiday season can be arduous. People have so much stuff, and it’s so easy to buy things off the Internet. And let’s face it, there are few things more aggravating than searching high and low for the perfect gift, only to find out that the recipient bought it three weeks before their birthday. (No. I’m not still bitter.)
Why not give the gift of a class instead? Specifically, a pottery class.
Garret Pendergrass Pottery is a fully equipped, family-centered pottery studio located in Fort Worth’s most creative neighborhood, the Near Southside. Pendergrass, a ceramic artist and teacher who holds an MFA from the University of North Texas, opened his laid-back studio to share his pottery passion with like-minded creatives who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. He offers open studio time, kiln rentals, technique classes, and private and group lessons for all levels and ages. The only requirement? You can’t take yourself or the clay too seriously.
I recently sat down with Garret to talk clay and classes.
Hannah Bush: Ceramics seems to be an instant hobby for most. Were you hooked after your first time at the wheel?
Garret Pendergrass: Immediately! Ceramics was my last elective I needed to graduate from undergrad, and I was hooked. After graduating, I quickly decided to buy a pottery wheel. My professor was kind enough to stick me in a janitorial closet so I could continue to practice my new skills. I knew ceramics was going to be my lifelong passion.
HB: Where do you source your clay?
GP: Luckily, the bygone days of finding a clay pit near a river somewhere are really bygone. I email local suppliers, such as Texas Pottery Supply, Trinity Ceramics, or American Ceramics Supply to get clay, glazes, or any equipment that I may need to keep the pottery studio up and running. I personally use S-6 clay from Texas Pottery. It’s a white stoneware that fires to a nice off -white, maximizing bright glaze colors
HB: Is it more fun to work with kids or adults? Be honest.
GP: It truly ebbs and flows. Generally, throughout the school year I have mostly adults. I love our conversations during a lesson. Right when I think I won’t teach kids again, summer pottery camps start up, and it reminds me how much fun kids are. I laugh a lot more around the kiddos, but I do like the interaction when teaching adults once summer ends.
HB: What has pottery taught you?
GP: Patience. Pottery has taught me, above all else, to give myself time to acquire new skills and give myself grace when things don’t go according to plan.
HB: I took ceramics in high school and was incredibly ungifted. Is there still hope for someone like me?
GP: Someone like you is my specialty. Within a few minutes, I’ll teach you basic steps like centering and coning, and before long, you’ll have a couple of pieces of pottery to call your own.
HB: How does open studio work?
GP: Open studio is beneficial to students who have a basic understanding and working knowledge of pottery techniques. If you can wedge your clay, work and clean independently, then Open Studio is right for you. It is $15 an hour which includes the price of clay. Many of my students, who have taken a few private lessons or finished a small group course, choose to transition to open studio. If you have any questions, just reach out to us and we’ll make sure you feel comfortable starting open studio on your own.
HP: What do you always remind your students when they are working with clay?
GP: First and foremost, you should have fun. Then, you should relax and breathe while you’re working. This is supposed to be enjoyable and stress-free. Don’t take yourself too seriously starting off.
HB: Is there always a little bit of clay under your fingernails?
GP: Heck no! My wife has a sanitizing protocol before I’m allowed to sleep! No clay is allowed in the sheets.
Garret Pendergrass pottery is located at:
1307 Hurley Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76104