Kristin Schoonover of Benyo Pottery (located in The Wedge Building in the heart of the River Arts District) has come up with a fun alternative to the typical night out. Two times a month, a group gathers at Shoonover’s studio to catch up, have a beer and design their own pottery. Shoonover refers to these as “pottery parties.”
The ceramicist recalls that one of her friends called her up one night saying, “I just feel like I need to be crafty.” Seeing the need for people to not only get out and socialize, but to also nurture their creative impulse, Shoonover began arranging impromptu craft nights. “I started doing these parties at my house, just with some friends,” she says. “Then, in September, I got this space, and it’s a much more comfortable atmosphere. It has all the space and supplies that we need to be crafty. The area also has a lot to offer and I think it can be a part of a bigger night out.”
Shoonover’s new studio is a part of the Clayspace Co-op, shared among five artists. The parties are held within the co-op’s enormous space. To date, Shoonover has thrown only a handful of parties in her new studio, and attendance has been widely made up of a variety of her friends, but she has been slowly spreading the idea via word of mouth. Shoonover hopes that the parties will catch on within the community. “I’m still unsure how it will be received,” she says, “but I’m looking forward to getting it out there because it’s really fun.”
People who attend the pottery parties will be a door down from Wedge Brewery — that helps with the fun factor. (The events are BYOB, FYI.) The parties themselves are less than intimidating and no experience is necessary. Everything comes prepared for attendees, meaning Schoonover has gone through the trouble of creating the cups and bowls. All tools are also provided, including carving tools and stamps. While for some, not being able to throw actual clay on a wheel and create their very own form may be disappointing. Others will be happy to have the hard work done for them. Glazing and carving, the main activities, are relatively easy, and something Shoonover goes over in a simple five-minute demonstration. The party’s focus seems to be more on the social atmosphere, rather than becoming an expert craftsperson.
Many who attend these parties look forward to gabbing with friends while having an adult beverage. Darcy Wallace, a close friend of Shoonover, has been attending the parties since their origin in Shoonover’s house and says, “I think it’s really fun. It’s nice to do something different then just go to a bar.”
Shoonover agrees and adds, “It’s like a typical night out, but better because you get to leave with something to show for it.” For $40, attendees get a combination of two items: typical choices are of cups, bowls, plates, or pet dishes – all of varying sizes. It’s a two night process, where the first night you stamp,carve and design the dishes. The second night, two weeks later, is glazing. In between, Shoonover lets the pottery dry and fires it. After the pottery is glazed, she fires it one more time.
The next Pottery Party is Friday, Dec. 6, from 7-9 p.m. All pots made will be available in time for Christmas. Sunday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 20 are the next nights to finish glazing. To attend a pottery party or for more information contact Schoonover at Krisbenyo@hotmail.com.