Sara Schurr Now is all there is
I grew up enjoying playing with clay but never developed any skill at it. As a senior in high school I made a large coil pot for a World Civilizations course and thoroughly enjoyed the process. But with my focus on college and the sciences I didn't give it any further thought.

During my college years I tried to find time most years to take one art class just to give me some balance. My senior year, Pitzer had a brand new gas fired kiln and they made pottery available to non-art majors like me. So my second semester of my senior year when I had only my senior thesis to finish and a few low pressure classes, I spent most of my time learning to throw pots on the wheel.

Frankly, I was in heaven. I wasn't great at it but I loved every minute of my time playing in the mud. The only all-nighter I pulled my entire college career was spent babysitting the kiln as we waited it to hit cone 10 so we could close it up for a reduction firing. I got so much pleasure from the process I was sure that I'd found my artistic outlet for the rest of my life. In fact, for a short time when I hadn't been accepted to grad school yet I even considered throwing pots for a living.

But then I got into grad school and was spared that hard road. The years rolled by and there was never a studio close enough to make it easy for me to get back to pottery. Fast forward 46 years to 2019 and Juniper Ridge Resort in Show Low, AZ.

Juniper Ridge Resort has a wonderful pottery club with just about everything anyone could want or need to play with clay in a friendly supportive environment. I happily spent the summer of 2019 learning to hand build plates and bowls, boxes.

Zen Box

In addition, I taught myself to do sgraffito from YouTube videos. And I took some classes where we made some interesting objects that led to other things too.

I was having so much fun that I knew I would miss making pottery in the winter. I knew that Rancho Resort had a kiln but it wasn't being used. So I contacted the management team and the next thing I knew I had become the head of a new Clay Club! We had our initial planning meeting in early November and by the time the kiln had been serviced in mid December, we were up and running and folks were making things.

I did our first test-firing in mid-December and we loaded our first full load of pottery into the kiln on the Monday before Christmas and it was ready to unload the day after Christmas. Merry Christmas to us all.

Kiln unloaded

When I had started out to form the club, I'd only been focused on getting the kiln up and working. My intention was to make a series of luminaria to use on the short wall around our front yard. So I set up a little studio in our garage where I could work. As it turned out, that was a great idea because on the days that the club met, I was busy giving introductory classes and helping to answer the questions of everyone else. So I did my own work at home on non-club days (mostly the weekends).

By the time the pandemic closed our studio on March 16th, we'd fired the kiln 9 times (one test firing and 8 full loads) and we had enough to fill the kiln and fire again if they had let us. We had 15 members having grown from an initial group of 5 or 6. Clearly there had been pent-up demand.

Meanwhile, I'd managed to make 6 more full sized luminaria and 7 half-sized to go with them by the end of March when the heat chased me out of the garage.

Lit luminaria