Situated in the "MoJo District"—where Monterey and Johnson Street intersect—Anam Cre' Pottery Studio is a SLO Town staple.
I walk into the studio on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Immediately upon entering, I find a table filled with children, each grabbing at clay molds, dabbing paint brushes into palettes, and smiling at their in-progress creations.
- Photo Courtesy Of Shevon Sullivan
- ONCE A MONTH During Art After Dark, potters can bring their work to Anam Cre's Raku firing session, a glaze process that gives instant results.
Longtime locals will remember the days before Anam Cre's spacious, naturally lit Monterey Street space. The studio's story starts in 1999 in its original location in The Creamery.
Shevon Sullivan, who has owned Anam Cre' since its inception, said she opened her studio after 12 years of teaching pottery part time. When she decided upon The Creamery as her first location, several other galleries opened in the Higuera Street shopping and dining center shortly after. The artistic vibe of The Creamery can still be seen and felt today.
But after growing her business to the point of needing a larger studio, Sullivan decided three years ago that it was time for a change. Now, next door to a charming vintage boutique and with an art supply store just around the corner, the pottery studio fits right in. With enough room to accommodate the wide variety of options and services that Anam Cre' offers, Sullivan said her business "has really taken off," with more classes and availability than ever.
Sullivan said that Anam Cre' is also a great option for birthday parties for little ones like those here on this Saturday. With an option to paint bisqueware—pottery that has already been shaped and fired once, making it ready to be glazed—even the tiniest, least coordinated hands can bring home a masterpiece.
For the slightly older and more dexterous, Sullivan offers birthday party packages that teach the full process: throwing the clay, using the wheel, firing in the kiln, and glazing before the second and final fire.
As I walk past the entryway, I find Sullivan sitting with a teenage potter. I can tell the client is experienced, as she commands the wheel and needs very little help from Sullivan. Another studio employee stands over a deep sink, washing pottery tools before running over to help a customer properly knead their clay. To the right of the wheels, white industrial paint buckets hold the studio's huge range of glaze options, and the wall is covered with pottery hearts that each sample a different glaze option.
Sullivan said that Anam Cre's glazes are one area that sets the space apart from the average pottery studio.
"We carry over 50 glazes. Most studios that I have visited will have a choice of around six glazes, that's it," she said. "People are always shocked when they see what we offer."
- Photo Courtesy Of Shevon Sullivan
- IN THE WORKS A potter spins up something new on a wheel at Anam Cre' Studio.
In addition to the full rainbow of glaze colors, Anam Cre' carries different clay options, including plain, red, and speckled. Each type of clay looks different with the same color of glaze washed over it, resulting in hundreds of potential combinations—not to mention the infinite possibilities when it comes to throwing an original piece of pottery.
In addition to children's pottery, birthday parties, teen pottery, and adult classes, Anam Cre' also offers a couples pottery class.
"On Friday nights, [couples] can bring their own wine," she said of the ideal date night experience. "That package includes two classes: First to come and make the piece, and then to come back and glaze it."
Other offerings at the studio include Raku, a unique glazing process that Anam Cre' hosts outside during Art After Dark. While normally the pottery glazing process takes hours in a kiln and weeks of waiting, Raku allows for instant results.
"People come in and they either bring their own pottery or they make it here, or they can just purchase a piece we've made and glaze it that night," Sullivan said. "The nice thing about Raku firing is it's instant gratification. You get to glaze it and watch it fire and take it home that night. It's pretty magical."
After Sullivan helps me sculpt some pieces of my own, I go the traditional route of glazing and then patiently waiting a week or so for my creations to emerge. It was well worth the wait, and I have to agree with Sullivan—pottery is pretty magical. Δ
Arts Writer Malea Martin is glazing another piece of magical pottery. Send arts story tips to email@example.com.