MISSOULA - Whether you've always wanted to try out ceramics, or you've never thought of it before, Wildfire Ceramic Studio is letting you experiment for free during their community clay nights.
The studio has been operating in Missoula for three years, but it was only this year that they moved from a private studio space to a public place with community classes.
Co-owner Bruce Kitts started Wildfire Ceramics with four other artists when they realized they needed a personal space for their artwork.
He says working together made the dream possible, "it takes a community to run a ceramics studio."
They decided to open their doors this year as a way to raise money for the studio and provide a space for community members who wanted to try ceramics.
Kitts says clay building has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
There are a few four-week classes folks can choose from that teach either hand-building or wheel throwing.
Most of the courses cost around $180, and at the end of the session, students are taught how to glaze and finish their pieces.
Free community clay nights are an initiative at Wildfire Ceramics to invite the public in to explore the studio.
“We figured this would be a really nice way to get people in and show them the space and meet all the instructors," Wildfire Ceramic Studio co-owner Lindsey Tucker says.
"Also it’s just kind of hard to get in very many places to just play with clay, you know?" Tucker continued. "Just to experiment and see if you like it, see if you want to do more, so yeah, it’s a fun way for people to meet each other and get introduced to clay.”
They accept donations and ask for $10 to fire and glaze completed pieces, but other than that, the class is completely free for participants.
The money collected from the event is pooled for a scholarship fund to provide financial support for those who would like to take part in a four-week course.
“That’s what the community night is doing too, is raising money for a scholarship fund so we can offer classes to everyone at all financial levels," Kitts says.
Wildfire Ceramics has been having community clay nights for three months now.
Tucker says they are sometimes completely full and other times have fewer than five participants.
Either way, Tucker loves to help people explore the art form.
“It’s just so fun to see somebody explore something new and start to find success and learn new skills," she says.
During community clay nights, people can create anything they want and ask for as much guidance as they are looking for.
Some people who come in have never touched clay before, while others have a bit more experience.
“I think it was awesome," says participant Courtney Imhoff who had never worked with clay before "It’s super fun to come in here and just be creative, it’s very relaxing, so that was part of it, and then you get to go home with something wonderful.”
Every first Friday of the month, Wildfire Ceramics exhibits an artist's work in their gallery.
They've also been working with the VA to provide classes for combat veterans. Those participants will be showcasing their work at the VFW on April 7, 2023, from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Wildfire Ceramics will be hosting a Family Fun Day on April 8, 2023, for parents and kids, and the next four-week class on wheel throwing begins on April 11, 2023.
Additional information on Wildfire Ceramics and their next community clay night can be found at https://www.wildfireceramicstudio.com/.