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Just Fired-Up: Ceramics studio opens in region

Agnes Hapka ahapka@civitasmedia.com

August 26, 2013

GALLIPOLIS — There’s a new arts-related venue in the region, and Charles Maxam is at the (potter’s) wheel.


Just Fired Ceramic Studio was developed to introduce ceramics into the community, as part of an effort to bring more arts and culturally-diverse businesses to the area.


Maxam, who recently graduated from the University of Rio Grande with a four-year visual arts degree and a concentration in ceramics, is offering ceramics classes daily for any experience level, ages five and older.


“I can do classes for one person, and up to five people,” Maxam said. “As long as people have some dexterity and a little strength, I’ll teach them anything from traditional wheel-throwing to slab-sculptural pinch-pot.”


Maxam said he fell in love with ceramics while at Rio; he had never had any experience with them, other than in high school, before he embarked on his bachelor’s degree.


“When I started taking some sculpture courses, ceramics being one of the components of that, I just took to it like a fish in water,” said Maxam. “It was like a marriage. In a past life I must have been a potter.”


He won several prizes for his work while at Rio, including artist of the year.


“I think that was a springboard for my confidence to start something like this,” said Maxam.


The studio itself is comprised of a main work area and a damp room, where Maxam stores recently finished pieces.


“I put them in there to slow down the drying process, so they don’t crack or lose their appendages,” Maxam explained.


Maxam has a traditional treading wheel and three throwing wheels. He normally starts his students out on “wedging,” which is basic manipulation of clay, before they move on to work with the wheels.


“I have started people with wheel-throwing,” Maxam said, “but I usually start them on the slab table with a pinch-pot or a coil mug, or a wrap, which are done by hand. There are different avenues for testing people’s ability.”


Maxam said that this region has a rich ceramic history.


“Clay is actually degenerated granite. In the millions of years that the Appalachian mountains have been in existence, the erosion process has been creating these massive deposits of clay. And that’s one of the reasons why the region was at one time a hub of ceramic production,” noted Maxam.


In addition to running classes any day of the week, Maxam himself makes a full range of ceramics for sale: pots, tea sets, dishes, candle holders jugs, and many other objects both for utilization and decoration. All ceramics in the studio are for sale, and Maxam also sells blocks of clay.


“With a lot of my pieces I maintain the edge, the more organic and earthy shape. It looks almost like it grew this way,” said Maxam.


It’s a good way to live, said Maxam.


“I get to earn a living from art,” he said. “It’s a dream.”


For more information on classes and the ceramics themselves, Maxam may be contacted via his Facebook page under the name “Just Fired,” or via email at justfiredceramics@gmail.com, or by calling at the studio phone, (740) 645-1625.