Ithaca, N.Y. — In 2011, the student union board at Cornell University closed the Cornell Ceramics Studio to accommodate undergraduates and student activities.

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Local Ithaca ceramist Julia Dean said the closing of the Cornell studio created a void for a large space dedicated to ceramics and pottery in the community. This year, Dean, who has taught in community studios for 15 years, will move her studio out of her basement and open the doors of The Clay School to fill that void.

Julia Dean, founder of The Clay School and owner of JULIA e. DEAN, Inc.

In February, Dean signed a lease for a space on the South Hill Business Campus on Route 96B, and is now working to remodel a 2,000 square foot space, which will accommodate the community studio and Dean’s business: JULIA e. DEAN, Inc. According to a press release, the space will feature 11 wheels, three kilns, glaze materials, worktables and rentable shelf space for students. Ten classes taught by nine local artists will be offered each week in addition to two weekend workshops.

Dean said she is excited for her personal business to share space with a community studio.

“There’s a wall dividing the teaching studio from my production space,” Dean said. “I’m super excited just about being around that energy; people coming in and out for their classes, and me just working and hearing all that and being able to be part of that.”

Dean said she will be running one of the weekend workshops and subbing in for other teachers when they can’t be there. The team of nine teachers includes Tess Lawlor, Diane Sullivan, Julie Crosby, Hannah Graeper, Gary Rith, Tiana Trost, David Kingsbury, Tom Roach and Cary Joseph.

Pictured top row, left to right: Julia Dean, Tess Lawlor and Hannah Graeper Pictured bottom row, left to right: David Kingsbury, Bri Richardson (studio manager), Diane Sullivan and Tom Roach

Dean is now working to raise $40,000 to fund the purchase of the equipment for the new studio. She launched an IndieGoGo campaign on April 5 and as of today has raised $5,620 online, or 14 percent of the goal.

The space at the South Hill Business Campus being renovated for the studio.

According to a budget breakdown on the IndieGoGo fundraising page, the kilns and wheels will make up nearly 50 percent of the total expenditures. Five percent of the costs, or $2,000 will be administrative expenses. The page also says Dean is a Certified Living Wage Employer.

Dean said a group of four senior marketing students from Ithaca College are helping her with public relations and fundraising. Last semester, they worked with Dean as a part of a class project, she said, and this semester all four decided to stay on as interns.

The day the fundraising campaign closes, May 5, Dean said there will be a movie showing at 7 p.m. of the 1990 film “Ghost,” which includes a scene that has become a popular culture reference to pottery.

Classes will begin in September, and they will be available to students of all ages. Dean said it is important for the community to have a recreational space to explore their creativity and improve their personal well being.

“People really change by this medium, just by allowing themselves time to invest in their creative spirit,” Dean said.


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