There’s a new spot in Boone to throw on the wheel, mold with your hands and glaze your clay creations. Located on the NC Hwy 105 Bypass is High Country Clay, a community studio for clay artists.
Before opening its studio space, High Country Clay was just a group of artists in a garage. Last summer, the artists saw a building available for rent last minute and jumped at the opportunity.
“We really struggled finding a place because we were such a small business starting in the middle of a pandemic with no money,” Andie Aldred, communication outreach coordinator, said.
The studio’s current building is rich in Boone art history. The space they use now used to be The Blue House, a single artist’s studio who also gave lessons to the community.
Before that, it was a recording studio, which required soundproofing the entire space. In the left corner of the building are sliding glass doors, which once held the recording booth. Now, there are display racks of clay work and a kiln.
Aldred, who uses they and them pronouns, started in their position in October and was a beginner when arriving at High Country Clay. They are now a member of the studio and say clay is their favorite art medium.
Becoming a member of the studio requires an application process through their website. No portfolio or experience is needed. Members receive benefits such as 10 pounds of reclaimed clay, access to equipment and 6 feet of shelf space.
“We are open to people who have never touched clay before to people that have had experience for 20, 30 years,” Aldred said.
Trecia Smith is a former App State student and member of the studio. Her love for clay started when she was a student and collected ceramic pieces made by the school’s ceramic club. When a spot opened up at the studio, she took advantage of it.
Smith said that High Country Clay offers a safe and fun place to learn and create.
“Fine arts can often seem like a closed-off community that’s inaccessible. I think HCC is all about being a place that’s open to everyone from beginners to experts, a place where no matter your style, method, or experience, you are celebrated,” Smith said.
Besides membership, High Country Clay holds events and workshops at their studio open to anyone in the community. They recently held one on Valentine’s Day and are aiming at having them twice a month.
At this workshop, couples received a pre-made mug and were able to paint it however they’d like. One week later, participants received their mug glazed, fired and ready for use.
Most of their workshops are for beginners, but Aldred said they are looking to branch out and create some for those with more experience who can’t get into the studio space.
You can try your hands at working with clay by visiting High Country Clay’s Instagram for information on upcoming events.