No More Classes in Clay - Here's Why.
"When are your classes going to start enrolling?” “Do you have classes for kids?” “Can you do a private class for a birthday?” “How do I sign up for classes?”- We receive questions like this on a normal basis, so we wanted to address it here in full details.
We do not offer classes in any form now, and we will not in the future.
There are a lot of factors that played into this decision, and it wasn’t one that we made lightly. From the beginning, we wanted Dirty South to be more than just a downtown shop. Our idea was to be a space for being to take 6 to 8 week classes in clay with us, and for our studio to be a place where beginners could start their journey in clay and continue to take classes to further their progress.
When we rolled this idea out in 2016, we had several 6-week classes available along with a 1-night, 2-hour class in clay. This was supposed to be an entry class to get people interested in signing up for the longer classes. The 1-night class would be very demanding on us, since most people in the class would have no experience on the wheel and would require constant guidance while navigating the process. The longer classes would be more financially stable for our business (students would provide their own towels, clay, and tools), and wouldn’t require us to watch the students all the time – thus allowing us to work on our own pottery while students were there.
The thing is that we had less than 10 people sign up for the 6-week courses in the first year, while we had a 3-month waiting list constantly for the one-night class. People only wanted to try clay out a little, not a lot.
This was not ideal for us. The one-night classes required us to do ALL the prep work of mixing and wedging up clay, provide towels and tools for each student, teach the students for 2+ hours, clean up after them when they left, wash the towels and tools, spend the next 2 weeks cleaning and glazing their work, field calls from students about when their work would be ready, and then call them when it was ready for pick-up.
In order to make money on our time, resources and effort, we would have needed to charge $75+ per person for these classes. We charged $25-$30.
We didn’t want there to be a huge financial barrier to entry for our community to experience art. Again, we wanted for people to experience clay – even if it wasn’t easy on us.
For years we did this 1-3 times a month. The additional stress this put on our production schedule is immeasurable, but let’s just say that we found ourselves dreading the weeks that we had classes. In 2019 we added an additional teacher, Crimson, to help us with classes in hopes of taking some of this stress off of us. Although we loved having her teach in the studio, the additional cost of paying someone to instruct further diminished our profits. After years of trying to solve the problems with classes we were left with two options: more than double the price of the classes to make them worth our efforts, or stop offering them.
So in January 2020, we decided to end classes. This decision felt right, and we were ready to better utilize the space that the class wheels occupied. Since we were booked through February, we decided that our classes would end then and that starting March 2020 we would no longer have classes of any sort.
Y’all know what happened to the world in March 2020, so we can skip over the details.
But what we are realizing now that the world is starting to open back up is that folks don’t remember that we had cancelled classes before the pandemic started. The timelines match up so well that people think that we stopped them to keep everyone safe, but the reality is that we had announced ending our classes 2 months before COVID-19 reached pandemic level.
‘But can you do private classes? Like for a birthday?’ Nope, we cannot. Our studio space has been completely rearranged and some of our class wheels have been sold off. We are no longer equipped to host classes in clay of any sort.
Although this may be disappointing for you, we can’t find that we regret our decision. It was the right choice for our company – for our time and space to be our own without restrictions, and for our pottery studio to become much more functional. We have been able to scale our production with these extra hours each week, and having one less thing to juggle has been a huge help. Additionally we have made significant improvements to the studio for our health, such as floor padding and migrating our wheels to standing height.
Thank you to anyone who has shown interest in classes with us - we appreciate the gesture. If you are in the area and looking for classes in clay, we recommend Kentucky Mudworks in Lexington - they are just off Winchester Road and have the space, time and staff to offer a wide variety of classes.