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New ceramics studio offers home for creativity and expression in Ithaca

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The ambience in The Potter’s Room studio in Ithaca, New York is one of pale pastels, primarily orange and yellow hues, mixed with the gentle whir of throwing wheels and classic hits. The open door invites artistry in and Potter Tomas Black sits hunched over one of the wheels, knees covered in dried clay, as his hands effortlessly shape the wet, malleable material.

“You can make anything out of clay and you can make it look like anything,” Black said.

Black’s artistic inclinations led him to start The New Green Gates Pottery studio in Leverett, Massachusetts, which closed this July.

Black moved his business, opening The Potter’s Room studio in Ithaca, where he teaches ceramics classes, rents space to experienced potters and sells studio produced ceramics pieces. Prices range from $25 to $240 for the four week series of classes, depending upon age of the student, and shelf space rental for one month costs $100.

Black’s claim to fame are his large pots made using a unique style he created called banding. The process can take up to 8,000 hours and involves connecting individual layers of clay, each detailing a scene that together depict an overall story.

“It’s a pretty progressive way to work with the clay,” Black said. “[I’m] creating little mini-worlds and environments and setting up situations that are documenting the world around you.”

These signature ‘story pots’ ponder everything from green energy (‘Wind Effect, The Next Generation of Power’ vase) to what comprises upstate New York (‘Upstate New York’ Vase).

Black had several reasons for moving to Ithaca: there were no pottery studios in the area and the studio’s current location in the downtown area was also quite desirable, he said.

Black hopes to continue to make more classes–and shelf space–even more affordable as business picks up so aspiring to experienced potters can find a creative haven at the Potter’s Room.

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