“Part of why I like being a teacher is because I have more ideas than I could possibly do myself. I love being able to say ‘Here are a bunch of ideas!’ and watch others bring them to life,” Heather Tourville said when describing her pottery classes.
She opened The Cracked Pot Studio on 54th Street in April 2023. Offering small class sizes for adults, teens, children (aged 3-11), and events such as birthdays and date nights, this little studio is ready to teach anyone at any level how to create their own masterpieces. “I personally think clay is super therapeutic… I can’t meditate, but I can meditate through the clay. You can zone out – forget what day it is, what time it is and what’s going on in the world,” Heather said with pure joy in her voice. She discussed living with depression and anxiety, and finding self in the process of creating something beautiful. Even their website points to studies showing how simply touching clay can make a person relax.
“I’ve been doing pottery ever since high school, but it was always just a hobby,” she said. “I wasn’t one of the best potters – I wasn’t great at first – so I thought it wasn’t my thing.” She told me her friends were always the talented ones. She would go with them to create pots just because she loved the sense of community she found in the clay room. Her drive was obvious when she openly said pottery didn’t come naturally to her, but “if you keep doing it, you will get good.”
While this is not Heather’s first clay teaching studio, it is the first studio she started from scratch. She took over a studio in Lake Hiawatha, N.J. and ran it for five years before moving back home to Minnesota. “I really miss my pottery family! I still return to New Jersey to visit them and many of us have kept in touch, even doing some Zoom sessions.”
After COVID-19, she tried to find pottery classes to attend, but they were either full or closing. Ever ambitious, she originally tried to turn all of her friends into potters. “I really want to hang out with potters. If I can’t find potters, I’ll just make my friends into potters,” she chuckled. She then realized maybe this was her time to start her own community. “We realized during the pandemic how important it is to have that community, and we lost some of the practice.” She decided to take the plunge. She rented a space that she thought was perfect. She and a former coworker and friend, Madison, fixed it themselves, which included learning how to scrape the ceiling, paint the floor and walls, set up shelving and spackling, and put cement down in the basement. They even repaired holes in the ceiling. “For two months, we just felt like ‘repair people,’” she shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal that she and her friend taught themselves how to do basic construction work to create an entirely new place for business. “I’m sure the landlord appreciated it,” she laughed. She said it is nice being her own boss. “It’s nice to sink or swim yourself, too.”
I asked her about the name of her studio. She told me it is inspired by a beautiful story about embracing imperfections. The Cracked Pot is named after a story where a water-bearer fills two pots of water every day at the local stream to bring to their home. One pot is cracked and leaks half of the water on the way to the house. The pot one day apologizes to the water-bearer. The water-bearer then points out that they planted wildflower seeds along the trail; because the pot is cracked, it waters the seeds daily. The water bearer then thanked the pot for its imperfections, because that is how it creates its own beauty. Heather feels the same way – it’s our imperfections that create us, and they should be embraced – especially in pottery. “Mistakes in clay are often a blessing. Many of my favorite creations started as a mistake and that allowed me the mental freedom to play without worrying about ruining my creation. Then I do something entirely new and love it.” She discussed how she loves to help students create their own one-of-a-kind art and turn perceived mistakes into something even more beautiful than they originally imagined.
Heather is proud that The Cracked Pot Studio offers so much. Upcoming events include Halloween Mini Monster Making on Sunday, Oct. 29 from 12-3 p.m., Sip ‘N Spin (21+) on Friday, Nov. 3 from 5-9 p.m. and Holiday Ornament Making on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 12-3 p.m. Learn more and sign up at thecrackedpotstudio.com.
Heather cannot wait to share her studio with the local community. It is really a soothing space to learn more about clay and how to create the most imperfect art.
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