From Canyon To Cove: Getting into the spirit of the clay

October 28, 2010|By Cindy Frazier
  • Cindy Frazier works on her teapot.
Cindy Frazier works on her teapot. (Cherril Doty, Coastline…)

Nothing could be more therapeutic than spending a few hours playing with clay.

That's what I did Oct. 22, along with four other women under the tutelage of Walter Reiss, a ceramicist known for his laid-back artistic style and low-key ways.

We were making teapots, which might sound ambitious for first-time clay makers, but these teapots were for art, not for use. Therefore, we were free to use our imaginations to turn them into just about anything.

We were among the first enrollees in the new Sawdust Studio Art Classes, a new program for people who want a quick introduction to the arts, and to be able to make their own finished piece of artwork, be it a teapot, a set of wind chimes, a wrist cuff or another decorative item.

The studio classes are designed especially for visitors who want a "Laguna" experience, but all of those in our class were locals.


Reiss packed a lot of learning into what was supposed to be a two-hour class, but stretched into three hours and even longer for some of the women, who were still carefully glazing their teapots when I left.

You never know what will happen when you apply yourself to a medium you have never tried before. Fortunately, Reiss had given us a head start by presenting us with a simple basic plan that we could embellish within the constraints of time and our own imaginations and facility with clay.

It's safe to say that we all, including the teacher, were very impressed with what we produced. In fact, the clay seemed to mold itself into some intriguing shapes. We had a horse; an abstract; an angel-wing pot; a sweater teapot; and one that could only be called the angry baby teapot. We'll see the finished products in about a week, after they are fired. (Local folks enrolled in the studio classes can pick up their own ceramic works, but visitors will have theirs mailed to their homes.)

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