Photo by Bianca Lancia
Walking into Burnish Clay Studio, customers are instantly swept into an environment of creativity as they’re surrounded by ceramic stations, handmade pots and bowls and a clay art gallery.
Bellingham’s new ceramics studio opened Feb. 2 at 2006 N. State St. and is already off the ground and running, according to the studio’s owner and director, Heather Hitt. She’s hoping the studio will be a place for newcomers and professionals alike to connect through art.
“I wanted it to be a central hub where people can go and experience art in a very physical way without it having to be a career goal,” Hitt said.
Hitt wanted the studio to feel flexible for artists so they can alter it to fit their needs. With this idea in mind, she added moveable walls, tables, shelving and ceramic stations. Everything is temporary and the layout of the studio could change at any moment, Hitt said. Her goal is for the studio to grow and evolve organically, she said.
“I want to try and meet as many people needs as I can, whether novice or professional,” Hitt said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know what the people of Bellingham want out of a clay studio.”
Hitt has been fascinated by ceramics ever since she was a little girl, as she grew up watching her neighbor work on a ceramic wheel in her garage, she said.
“It’s messy and it’s physical and it’s also a lot of science,” Hitt said. It’s different than other artforms because it involves geometry, physics and chemistry, she said.
Studio technician Zoe Petersen said she likes ceramics because she can actually use her creations.
“It’s so nice to hold your art and be able to interact with your art everyday,” Petersen said. “It feels like there’s no limit to what you can do with it.”
Barbara Plaskett, a studio volunteer and Hitt’s close friend, revealed why she love ceramics.
“I have dabbled in all different kinds of art, and this one is the most flexible to me,” she said.
Hitt is all about functionality when it comes to her own pots, she said, adding that she enjoys making things people can use in their everyday lives.
“I’m somebody that’s very logical ... I’m not a stereotypical artist,” Hitt said.
Plaskett is more into the decoration: lots of bright colors and floral and henna designs, she said.
“I like the brightness,” Plaskett said. “I like the geometric [nature] of the repeating pattern.”
Petersen, on the other hand, gets a lot of her inspiration from observing nature and other talented potters.
Hitt said she suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, but didn’t let this stop her from achieving her dream of opening a studio.
“I already have carpal tunnel … this felt like a way that I could immerse myself in the ceramics world while also recognizing my limitations,” Hitt said.
Hitt said prospective customers can expect a high-quality teaching experience from professional artists. Customers have the option of attending an open studio where they can practice their craft and create outside of structured class time, Hitt said.
“Customers can use this as an opportunity to try new things, to experiment with the pots they make and meet new people,” Hitt said.
Petersen said people should look forward to being inspired by other artists.
“You can be influenced by so many people in one place,” she said. “If you have a question, there is always somebody you can ask.”
Plaskett said another perk of the studio is being able to be a part of the artist community.
“You just show up and do your thing … the community is also really great. People who play with mud are pretty easy going usually,” Plaskett said.
Hitt said the community studio aspect is beneficial to growing and learning artists, adding that she wants to provide that outlet through the studio as a way to build the clay community in Bellingham.
Five years from now, Hitt hopes to have full classes and a successful studio that people view as the place to go for ceramic art, she said. She wants others to be able to express themselves through a medium outside their career, Hitt said.
Burnish Clay Studio is already preparing to host its first big weekend workshop in March, featuring an array of professional artists. To learn more about classes, workshops and memberships, visit the Burnish Clay Studio website: https://www.burnishclaystudio.com/#/