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People Need to Create

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When I was twelve, I mentioned to my Great-Uncle Jim that I wanted to be a writer. He looked me in the eyes, became very serious and said, “Writers write. People need to create things, but they need to practice to be good.” I’m a creative nomad—picking hobbies to practice for a while, then moving on to something else. I’m a master of none. I’ve always respected the talented artisan who had the patience to master her craft.

But I strongly believe that in some way, everybody is creative. Sometimes I bristle when people in our industry are referred to as “the creatives,” but I understand the sentiment. In reality, Think Brownstone employs a lot of folks who pursue creative tasks both on and off the job. I’m guessing companies like ours have a larger percentage of musicians, artists, chefs, sculptors and writers than some other companies. We are lucky enough to be able to create things every day for our clients. Sometimes we have the time to go home and create things for ourselves, but very often work gets in the way of life.

Which is why when we were offered the opportunity to participate in The Clay Studio’s 40-hour opening to celebrate their 40th anniversary, we jumped at the chance.

Kristina was a natural, and spun out four nice looking vessels

Among the many classes and workshops they offer, The Clay Studio can put together team-building workshops for organizations to get them out of the daily grind and into a different type of creative environment. We’ve been very busy at Think Brownstone, so taking off early on a Friday to do something different was more than welcome. Unfortunately, as deadlines approached or long weekend plans got in the way, the entire company couldn’t make it. That’s typical in any consulting environment. Although we missed our colleagues, we still had a blast.

The Clay Studio knows what they’re doing—two instructors and two assistants took us through the basics of spinning clay on a wheel. They then kept watch over our crazy crew as we learned to spin pots. I thought, “two hours, I’m going to make at least ten things.” It’s harder than it looks—I made three. Here’s some of what went down:

Russ made two plate/bowl-type things...let’s call them "plowls"

It took me six separate balls of clay before I made a few things that vaguely resemble a salsa dishes or tiny cereal bowls. I spent several years as a glassblowing hobbyist and I expected those skills to transfer over in some form. News flash: they didn’t. Despite my ineptitude, every member of the Clay Studio crew was patient, helpful and fun.

After the event, Alli and I spent some time chatting with Chris Taylor, the President of The Clay Studio, to learn more about the organization. While they have been a member of the Philadelphia art community for 40 years, they have never stood still. They started as shared studio for five artists and have grown into a community organization offering classes, residencies, educational events, a gallery and more.

It’s great to get even more involved with Philadelphia’s design and art community as we plan for the opening of our next studio in Center City (more about that soon).

Wow, we made it through a ceramics workshop without one reference to the scene in Ghost…crap, scratch that:


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