Hi, it’s Izzy again! I’m back having explored another place in Old East Village for the first time. In my last blog, I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Unique Food Attitudes. This time, I joined a Clayworx workshop for an upcoming community mosaic. If you’d like to explore Clayworx too, check out Try Clay Day on August 13th. Drop in for a no-pressure, no-cost introduction to wheel throwing and hand building. Registration is encouraged but not mandatory!
Clayworx (formerly the London Clay Art Centre) has been a key player in the artistic culture of Old East Village for decades. They are a charitable arts organization providing educational and community-building experiences through ceramic arts. You can read about their history and mission in our previous blog, Clayworx: Fostering Art Education in the Community.
Today, you can find art that Clayworx has helped to create in many locations along Dundas. When I got my first tour of the corridor, the Indwell mosaics especially caught my eye with their impressive scale and detail. You can watch a new video about their creation here. After admiring their work, I was excited to sit in on a workshop Clayworx was holding for their next mosaic project.
First, we made a quick stop at their retail store on the first floor, which is filled with pottery. All of the pieces are made by local artists, whether they make use of Clayworx’s shared studio space or they have their own home studios. The displays brim with jewel-toned glazes, unique textures, and containers for everything imaginable, from tiny vases to daily-use dishware.
The second floor is home to a beautiful, spacious workshop where Clayworx leads many classes every week. They offer something for everyone, whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to hone your craft with clay. The high ceilings and natural light make it a comfortable place to spend time playing with clay and getting your hands dirty.
At our workshop, community organization members and business owners were invited to create clay tiles for an upcoming project to be installed in Old East Village. Many of Clayworx’s projects involve the community in this way. For example, the ten sidewalk mosaics recently installed on Dundas Street each contain tiles designed by different community groups. Clayworx has perfected a communal mosaic method that involves people who live and work in OEV and allows them to represent what matters most to them.
Mosaic Art Director, Beth Turnbull Morrish, led the afternoon’s workshop. She has worked on many other mosaic projects in OEV with the most recent being the sidewalk tile mosaics. Beth had collected a scrapbook of inspiration and she shared it with us to explain the creative process and our role in bringing it to life. It was clear that a lot of care and thought went into the design process and the end result will be a meaningful addition to the community.
With this vision in mind, the workshop was underway. Beth was a friendly and entertaining leader, welcoming beginners who may have never worked with clay before. She demonstrated how to roll out the clay, cut shapes, smooth edges, and stamp words. Then, we were off to work!
We cut out tiles and stamped different words on each one, inspired by Old East Village in the past and present. It was a playful and peaceful way to spend an afternoon. I’m excited to see the mosaics installed and I loved participating in the workshop. It’s inspiring to see the work Clayworx is doing in OEV and the amount of care they put into it. More details about the project will be coming in the future!
Next, Clayworx will continue making tiles and fire and glaze the ones we made. Installation of the mosaics is planned for next summer. In the meantime, you can explore OEV’s existing mosaics, as well as other cultural and artistic landmarks, with the Only in OEV Culture Cruise.
Don’t forget to check out Clayworx’s Try Clay Day on August 13th. You can also visit their interactive booth at our Only in OEV Fridays event on August 18th to try wheel throwing for free while you enjoy outdoor jazz performances, local vendors, and more!