A one-stop shop for the holidays while supporting local artists

Looking for the perfect gift for everybody on your list this holiday season? The UAA Clay Body Club, the university’s student-run ceramics club, has you covered.

Alexis Erikson, Clay Body Club vice president, created functional, dishwasher and microwave safe mugs with quilt and checkered designs to sell at the Annual Winter Pottery Sale. The designs were inspired by Erikson’s hobbies of sewing, cooking and research on mid-century modern art.

Each semester, the club organizes a pottery sale open to the public. Upwards of 1,000 items, ranging from the ever-popular coffee mugs to serving bowls to ornaments, will be available for purchase at this year’s Annual Winter Pottery Sale.

The event is scheduled on Dec. 7 with the doors of the ceramics studio opening at 8 a.m. However, the sales have created a large following over the past 30 years, and a line usually begins to form outside of the ceramics studio up to an hour prior to the start of the event.

“Every year, it seems like more and more people catch wind of the sale,” Alexis Erikson, vice president of the Clay Body Club, said. “We get so many people coming in from the community that some people will leave the sale and come back when it’s less busy.”

Despite the hectic beginning of the sale, Steve Godfrey, chair of the department of art and Clay Body Club adviser, says good pieces can be purchased up until the end of the event.

“It’s exciting at 8 o’clock when the doors open, but there is always good pieces left at 5 o’clock when the doors close,” he said.

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All pieces in the sale are handcrafted by ceramics students or faculty throughout the semester or from prior sales. Much like other students this semester, Erikson has experimented with different forms and finds inspiration from her personal experiences.

“This semester I’ve been working on fruit baskets, quilt and checkered mugs and bagel jars,” Erikson said. “Lately, I’ve been sewing, cooking and doing research… So you’ll see a lot of that in my pieces in the sale.”

Other unique aspects of this winter’s sale include pieces created from salt-firing and more colorful work due to students experimenting with new glaze color palettes.

Along with much freedom in creating pieces for the sale, students are also responsible for setting the prices of their pieces with the help of a general price list. Proceeds from the sale a split 60/40 with 60 percent going back to the artist themselves and the remaining 40 percent put into the Clay Body Club’s account in order to bring visiting artists to the university and fund trips to ceramics conferences.

Both Godfrey and Alanna DeRocchi, term instructor of art, agree that the sale is an opportunity to teach students to be responsible salespeople and to help them realize that ceramics could be a possible career in the future.

“Students can see the fruits of their labor,” DeRocchi said. “They get to see that they can be successful and make money off their work.”

Along with making some extra cash, the pottery sale also gives ceramics students a sense of personal satisfaction and validation when their art is purchased.

“It’s so fun to be able to create art that other people will use in their home,” Erikson said. “My professor once said that whenever he uses a plate or a mug from a friend, it’s like having a guest in his home.”

To support local artists and snag some gifts for your loved ones or even yourself this holiday season, stop by the Gordon Hartlieb Hall, Room 108 on Dec. 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in. The event is open to all UAA students and faculty, as well as the community.