Colorado Clay, a new ceramics studio and art gallery, opened in January on Main Avenue in the North Point Mall.
Owner Nick Schlau envisions the sunny space as a community gathering place. He is offering classes and renting the studio for events.
Schlau focused on opening his business in May after being unable to find a place to kiln-fire his own ceramic work.
“The concept was a studio and teaching others and having a shared space to where others can teach me as well,” he said.
He is a potter who earned undergraduate art degrees from Fort Lewis College and Sheridan Community College in Wyoming. He also interned in Kyoto, Japan, where he studied raku pottery, a technique that involves taking red-hot pottery out of the kiln and exposing it to flames.
Originally from Wyoming, Schlau stayed in Durango after he graduated from FLC in 2014 and has been bartending at the Strater Hotel’s Office Spiritorium. He weighed pursuing a graduate degree against starting his own business.
“I took a jump. I put everything I had on the table,” he said.
The studio’s first set of classes started the second week of January.
Colorado Clay offers classes for adults and children focused on wheel-throwing and hand-building ceramic pottery and artwork. He offers classes for five people at a time and may expand that to 10 in the future.
“I think the smaller numbers are really key for me and the feel of this town,” Schlau said.
In addition to classes, Schlau offers open-studio time to students for a few hours, five days a week – Tuesday through Saturday – to give them time to practice.
He plans to host workshops taught by other local ceramic artists, he said.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the studio can be rented for parties and events, and Schlau will teach group classes.
The gallery was an added bonus to opening the studio, he said.
Schlau always bulked at paying the 40 to 60 percent commission that many studios require of artists and plans to sell pieces at 25 percent commission, which allows artists to profit more.
It is also showing portraits of Native Americans by Shane Bryant, an artist based in Denver.
Classes are $45 per week, materials included. Classes for children are eight weeks and adult classes are six weeks.
More information about the studio and gallery can be found at www.coloradoclaystudio.com.