Art enthusiasts fired up about the opening of the Randolph County Community Arts Center's new pottery studio convened Monday to celebrate what the president of the RCCAC's board of directors called "a momentous occasion."
Doreen Hall thanked local government officials, including Randolph County Commissioner Mike Taylor and Elkins Mayor Van Broughton; current and former members of the RCCAC board of directors; and pottery teachers and students for turning out to a Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting to celebrate the fact that 1 Park Pottery Studio is now "up and running."
The public pottery studio - which showcases nine potters' wheels, a glaze room, a kiln room and a hand-building room - replaces the space in which pottery classes previously took place: the basement of the Randolph County Community Arts Center.
"There was not enough room," Hall said. "When it rained hard, it would flood. It was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant, and this space is. We've been able to go from three pottery wheels to nine, we now have a hand-building room separate from the wheel room, and instead of one kiln, we now have three in a special separate room from the studio."
Hall said an ever-growing interest in pottery was the driving force behind the expansion, a conclusion with which pottery teacher Jennifer Boyle concurred.
"Everyone I talk to - no matter what stage of life they're in - always says, 'I've always wanted to do pottery,' so now we have this place where people can come and learn to do something they've wanted to learn to do their whole lives," Boyle said.
The studio opened for classes in February and has since hosted a children's birthday party, during which kids came to create their own earthenware and will be able to take the pieces home as party favors once they're finalized, Boyle said.
The pottery studio project couldn't have come to fruition without the help of local RCCAC donor and Elkins resident June Myles, who, along with the Myles Family Foundation, helped the arts center purchase the house in which the first-floor studio is now located.
Myles was on hand Monday to do the honors, wielding a giant pair of wooden scissors to cut the yellow ribbon spread out in front of 1 Park Pottery Studio's porch.
"For me, personally, there is nothing more wonderful than being able to create something with your hands," Myles said. "Whether you're young or old, there is something beautiful and satisfying about making something out of clay.
"This kind of creativity gives you the confidence to take creativity into other aspects of your life, and that's really important," Myles added.
Hall also thanked Tim Harris of Appalachian Sign Company for fashioning and donating the studio's new sign, as well as the state Division of Culture and Division, which supplied the grants that paid for the renovation of the house's first floor.
Kurt Barkley, executive director of the RCCAC, urges the community to take advantage of the opportunities 1 Park Pottery Studio presents. Pottery classes are available for every age, from preschool to adult.
"We have top-of-the-line kilns and wheels, and I just really hope people in the local community and surrounding counties will avail themselves of what the pottery studio has to offer, which is classes and equipment for everyone," Barkley said following the ribbon cutting. "After all, this is a community arts center."
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