Around the potter’s wheel: Ceramics studio provides calming escape


Carys Bobbitt, junior Art Education major, makes a handle to fit to her cup in the ceramics studio on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

Jamie Brian

It’s hard to tell where the clay stops and the artists’ hands begin.  Fingers glide and shape the clay while heads are bent over the potter’s wheel. The ceramics studio has a pulse that beats with the creativity of its students.

Six gas kilns wait to be fired. In the communal workspace, large shelves carry a motley selection of unfinished pieces. Tacked on the walls are photographs for inspiration.

“It’s pretty lived in, but it’s comfortable,” said Emily Haft, a Kent State alumna taking advanced ceramics. “We have big shelves and racks covered with pieces we’ve been making in the various stages of the pottery process. You can see all sorts of things being created by students this semester.”

A student wedges clay, pressing it against the board. Someone is placing a bowl onto a shelf. Sounds blend together in a kind of orchestra.

“When you run a motor in one of the wheels, you get this whirring sound,” Haft said. “It’s a mechanical noise that can kind of fade into the background, but when you have a lot of the wheels running at once, it’s almost cacophonous.”

Junior crafts major Andrea Lombardo is quite familiar with the sound. 

“My grandma signed me up for ceramics classes when I was super young, so I’ve just been interested in it my whole life,” Lombardo said. “It’s a passion that I like doing, so I might as well just do it for the rest of my life.”

Even after years of working with clay, each piece brings with it a new challenge. 

“When you finally get it, it’s like the light comes down when you get something centered,” Lombardo said. “It just makes you feel accomplished when you finally figure out a dilemma or a problem that you’ve been having.”

Students work through their problems together in an open studio that gives them the ability to collaborate and give each other suggestions.

Lauren Lutkus, a graduate student studying art education, trims some of the pots and cups she’s made to make them lighter and smoother.

“I think the environment encourages you to get messy and connect,” Lutkus said. “The more you work with other people, the better you get because you get to collaborate and see what they’re doing.”

On the other side of the room, Bryan Zamiska, a senior crafts major, throws cylinders and tries to stack them to get a bigger piece for his next project.

“It starts out with wedging to get the air bubbles out,” Zamiska said, explaining the process of creating a vessel. “You want to make everything consistent and even on the wheel, and you want to focus on what you’re doing with the clay, like how much pressure you’re putting on it.”

The studio may be bustling with sounds and shoptalk, but it remains an individual experience and becomes a place to work and forget about the outside world.

“It’s mostly the hum of the wheels, and then people talking most of the time,” Lutkus said. “If you’re here late at night and you’re by yourself, it’s a good time to focus because there’s not any traffic outside, and it’s just really quiet.”

Contact Jamie Brian at [email protected].