sign out front encourages passersby to "Shop Locally, (preferably
here!)." It belongs to ClayWays located at 5442 Burnet Rd just accross
from Puett Real Estate. In spite of the small storefront, ClayWays has
a lot of space for artisans and artisan-wanannbees to spread out and
mold their clay. The small gallery that visitors enter into fronts a
large studio and outdoor kiln area.
Co-owner, Kit Adams, who lives within walking distance of the
studio, moved into the building in 1996. It was formerly an express
lube business. She originally had hopes on the building that is now
occupied by Austin Diner but wasn’t able to get it. The loss was to
her benefit. ClayWays is in a great facility. The
gallery in front houses an array of beautiful pottery works mostly from
local artisans. Kit started the business after years of working from
home as a production potter and artisan traveling to art fairs to sell
her work. It was a hard way to make a living. She supplemented her
income doing massage therapy and teaching pottery classes. Kit met
co-owner Sara Lyford when Kit was a guest artist in one of Sarah’s
classes at another studio. Sara kept tabs on Kit and her startup and
eventually joined her as a business partner.
business card says "Kit Adams, Sara Lyford & friends." Today, Kit
and Sara credit a lot of the direction of the business to a dedicated
group of women who have, in one way or another, been involved in the
studio and served as a sounding board for their ideas. It’s a
business, she says, but it’s also a community. Included in that
community is a very talented teaching staff.
ClayWays offers a range of classes for beginners and experienced
potters along with an open studio option for those who have gone
through the classes and want to continue practicing their art. In the
summer, they conduct a series of week-long kids camps. And throughout
the year ClayWays puts on workshops conducted by nationally and
internationally-recognized artists. ClayWays students run the gamut,
from high-tech professionals looking for a creative outlet to
high-school and college students introduced to the art in school.
Kit, who received a Masters in Ceramics from Northern Illinois
University, got hooked on ceramics after taking a college class. That
was 30 years ago.
ClayWays doesn’t advertise heavily. Word-of-mouth and the internet (www.clayways.com)
have been their best source for customers. Allandale has been a good
location for the business as well. A number of their students and
gallery patrons are neighborhood residents.
ClayWays is noted for hosting the annual Austin Empty Bowl
project, a fundraiser that benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. Every
year in November for the past 9 years the project collects student and
professional potter ceramic
bowls for the event. For $15, people get to pick a bowl to keep and
also receive a serving of soup and bread. This year, the Empty Bowl
Project received over 2,400 bowls, some of which were made and donated
by MaCallum’s art students. The event drew over 1,200 people and
generated $36,710 in donations for the Capital Area Food Bank.
So if you’re looking for a special gift or interested in taking a
ceramics class, Kit suggests you shop locally preferably at ClayWays.