The Orion

Ceramics studio provides creative environment for artists of all abilities

Ashiah Scharaga

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"The Thinker"

Janice Hofmann, program coordinator of Chico All Fired Up, said she was inspired to create Octopus “The Thinker” because of her eldest son’s fascination with the clever creatures. The sculpture is now a popular piece among children who visit the studio.Photo credit: Ashiah Scharaga” height=”300

Janice Hofmann gently presses a clay heart with multiple textures, including one from an avocado net, onto a small square of brown clay. Once the project is fired, it will be a ceramic heart tile that can be displayed on a wall, hold dried flowers or contain a love note to someone special.

Hofmann has been a ceramic artist for almost 25 years. Her ceramics studio, All Fired Up, has been at 830 Broadway St. for seven years. She is Program Coordinator of Chico All Fired Up, which became a division of the Work Training Center in October 2013.

Though Hofmann does not have as much time to create her own art since she opened the studio, she said she gets a lot of joy out of inspiring other people and seeing them go on their own creative path.

“A lot of people have the misconception that they are not creative and they cannot create,” Hofmann said. “I love seeing people go from that place of not having confidence to realizing they can make something wonderful and get inspired. And then they find that they want to have art as a regular part of their life.”

New ownership
People with disabilities will be trained at the studio, said Studio Assistant Cassi Nye. Many different jobs will be offered based upon what individuals are able to do, from cleaning to creating in clay.

“If you’re creating and buying something, all that money goes back to the community,” Nye said. “Now we’re really focused on supporting adults with special needs and bringing money back into the community to keep supporting them and keep progressively making new programs.”

Clients that create in clay will be taught how to make popular products, such as house number tiles and Hofmann’s own creation, blessing birds, which are ceramic birds with a small hole in the chest cavity for the insertion of prayers, blessings or hopes.

There have been a lot of changes in the studio itself, Nye said. There is a sign-in sheet, new banners and shelves, and an art gallery. There are also two areas for paint-your-own pottery and it has become much easier to stock the store.

“Just everything about the transition has been positive,” Nye said.

Services offered
Chico All Fired Up is not just a studio for skilled artists. Anybody can get involved with ceramic art. The studio hosts wet clay and pottery painting parties for birthdays, team building, family get-togethers, club activities, date nights and other group events.

All classes are scheduled around customer convenience, Nye said. Instructors match their schedule with the customer’s schedule. Classes vary depending on what customers are interested in making.

Studio assistant and class teacher Carob Bradlyn, who has been professionally involved with art for 23 years, said her favorite part of her job is teaching.

“I can’t believe I’m getting paid to play with clay and teach people how to do it,” Bradlyn said. “That’s just really cool. I feel really blessed and excited.”

Class prices vary. A wet clay class for one person is $45, but the price per person decreases the larger the group is.

For example, a clay class for two people is $35 per person, while a group of four to six people pays only $25 each. Classes include materials, tools, glazes and firing costs.

Chico All Fired Up also offers a paint-your-own pottery studio. Ready-made pieces, ranging from miniature dragons and flying pigs to plates and gigantic coffee mugs, are available for customers to pick off of the shelves and begin painting.

Pieces are priced from $10 to $50, depending upon size and shape, Nye said. There is no studio fee and appointments are not necessary.

When customers finish painting their piece of pottery, the studio contacts them once it has been fired in a kiln.

Chico All Fired Up also has a store where artists can purchase ceramic supplies or local artwork. An art gallery is located at the front of the shop, which changes frequently to showcase members’ artwork.

Customers can choose to become members by paying a monthly fee.

Members receive unlimited studio use during business hours and discounts on store items. A basic membership is $80 a month with a two-month minimum commitment.

Upcoming events
Chico All Fired Up is participating in the Valentine’s Day ARTabout from 4-7 p.m., organized by Chico Visual Arts Alliance. Businesses south of the post office will have free snacks and art demos.

Chico All Fired Up will be making a limited amount of special edition sweetheart beads to give out to people who come by the studio.

The studio is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more visit their website.

Ashiah Scharaga can be reached at [email protected] or @AshiahD on Twitter.

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Ceramics studio provides creative environment for artists of all abilities