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A show of the work of new technician Nicki Strouss is currently on exhibit at Yellow Springs Community Pottery, in the penguin building next to John Bryan Community Center. (photo by Carol Simmons)

A show of the work of new technician Nicki Strouss is currently on exhibit at Yellow Springs Community Pottery, in the penguin building next to John Bryan Community Center. (photo by Carol Simmons)

Classes are new focus of pot shop

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Its incorporation this past summer as a nonprofit organization was a defining marker in the 40-year history of John Bryan Community Pottery. More than a book-keeping designation, the tax-exempt status is helping shape how the facility moves forward as a community-based ceramics center.

“Now we’re moving toward a more sustainable model,” Director Krystal Luketic said recently. “We have to be able to financially support what’s going on.”

The Village owns and maintains the pottery building, the mosaic-decorated structure with the painted mural of penguins located behind the Village’s John Bryan Center. The community pottery, which has a board of trustees and operates with an annual budget of about $37,000, rents the facility from the Village. It generates income from classes and workshops, user fees and the rental fees of potters who share the studio space, equipment and other affiliated benefits, including annual sales. Twenty renters are currently associated with the center.

While the center has operated as an artisan’s co-op in the past, that is not the organizational structure now, Luketic said. “We’re really focusing on our mission as an educational facility now.”

That mission extends not only to community members in the form of regular classes and workshops, but also to the studio renters.

“The model is: You start here. You learn to make pots, and you move on to your own studio,” Luketic said. “We don’t support commercial potters.”

The model means that turnover can be high. Luketic said she anticipates soon losing about five of the current 20 renters, so the center is “making a push to get more.” The desire is “for people who have done pots in the past,” but are amateurs or still learning their craft. Some may have studied ceramics in college and want to get back to it while pursuing another career, she said. Others may be developing skills they hope lead to professional status.

The fee structure and related benefits are listed on the pottery’s website — The uniqueness of the facility in the region means that it draws renters from throughout southwest Ohio.
On the immediate horizon, the pot shop is gearing up for its annual holiday sale, scheduled Dec. 12–13 at the penguin building. “It’s a major event for the year,” Luketic said. “People can see the studio and what we do.” In anticipation of the sale, the pottery is seeking handmade pot and ceramic donations from the community — anything that might be getting dusty or taking up needed space. Luketic noted that donations are now tax deductible -— as are traditional financial contributions, she added.

More immediately, the center is hosting an exhibition of work by its new part-time studio technician, Nicki Strouss. “Getting to Know You: Pottery by Nicki Strouss” will remain on display through Dec. 10.
A native of Lexington, Ky., where she grew up on a horse farm, Strouss is a 2008 graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design. She has a “good background in firing,” as well as teaching children to work with clay, Luketic said.

Strouss, who began at the pot shop in September, says she “started throwing” about 17 years ago. “I love it even more now than I did then.” Her process involves high fire clay, which means it has been heated in a kiln to a maximum of 2,300 degrees.

Strouss continues to live in Columbus, where she not only is involved in the art community there, but also teaches yoga, having earned her 200-hour teaching certification.

She said she chooses to commute to Yellow Springs because the community is both unique and welcoming and the studio facilities complement her work. As a part-time employee, she’s in residence about three days a week. Her responsibilities include “firing the kilns, mixing the glazes, and making sure everyone has what they need. And cleanning,” she added with a laugh. “Cleaning is a huge thing.”

Luketic said Strouss will be helping with the new schedule of community classes that start in mid-January. The winter class schedule is up on the center’s website. Luketic said that the center made an effort to secure instructors who have had a past association with the facility — furthering the educational cycle.


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