Earth & Fire Art Studio, Essex


I am admittedly bad at pottery-making. Sure, I have a degree in Fine Art but the one medium I couldn’t nail was Ceramics. Post art school I have even gone back (Wesleyan Potters) and taken a few more stabs but merely continued to craft loopy ashtrays and cat bowls. So, when I learned that a new ceramics studio had conveniently opened in the Essex Village, I was all in for one more try.

Owner/Potter/Instructor (and all-around sweetheart) Julie Bonilla really knows her stuff after 20+ years of experience and a Studio & Fine Art Degree from Michigan State University. Her patient and laid-back vibe help both brand newbies and frustrated veterans feel comfortable at the wheel.

You’ll start with a 12.5 lb block of clay. Six weeks of 2.5 hour classes later, you’ll leave with a collection of your very own. During the sessions, you’ll learn the basics – wedging, centering, wheel-throwing, hand building, trimming and glazing. Studio hours are available during the week and on Saturdays for extra hours on your vessels.

Julie organizes a gathering after the session has ended for the all the students. Live music, libations and potluck ensue while students hunt through the abundance of crockery for their finished pieces, discuss glazes and techniques and celebrate the session.

I managed to turn out a handful of pretty pieces this time around both on the wheel and by hand using rolled slabs of clay. Ceramics is easy to get lost in and therefore, VERY relaxing. Plus this type of creative community is hard to come by these days. So, I am signing up for another session!

Earth & Fire offers weekend workshops, sessions for kids and homeschoolers, too.

2 Main Street in Essex

By Laura Williams

earth fire studio