Our mission at Queen City Clay is to foster the human impulse to create. By nurturing the growth of a unique, diverse, encouraging community we make the creative process accessible to all. We believe that the shared experience of creating ideas and objects can and does improve a person’s overall well being.
Who is Queen City Clay?
Our mission statement says it all but when we lay out how many different ways we can achieve our goal, the results are truly awe inspiring. Queen City Clay is one of the largest public clay studios in the country
We currently house a teaching studio, exhibition gallery, warehouse, retail shop, pottery-painting studio, kids art program, business co-op, Artist in Residence program, slip casting business, and rental space for creative companies and individuals. Under the surface we are a meeting place for young and old, training space for potters, beginners, creatives, and business professionals, a support group for those going through trauma, a new start for adults with special needs, an off-site for local schools and big business, a launching ground for creative ideas and community engagement, a neighborhood connector, an event space, and a party destination.
Our connection to the region through education and public events is very strong. We work with local schools to outfit their clay program with all the equipment and materials they need. This includes free training for all teachers and a partnership with Ashland University, NKU, UC, and Forest Hills School District to provide graduate credit for teachers and internship opportunities for students. We have schools bring students from as far as Cleveland to take part in our 4 hour fieldtrips where students learn to work on the potter’s wheel or sculpt with clay.
Businesses and adult groups take advantage of our teambuilding programs and “Day out of the office” offerings and DAAP, Yelp, The Potters Council, and local politicians use our facility as a creative event center to hold large events of 300 people or more.
Our clay classes are some of the best in the world and with our current facility we bring around 250 students and renters to the studio on a weekly basis.
Queen City Clay currently supports 8 full time staff members and over 40 part time staff.
Our company is helping to put this region back on the world map for ceramics. Rookwood as well as several other local studios work with us on a regular basis to make this an appealing place to hold major clay and sculpture conferences. We are working every day to make a positive social and economic impact on the area and revitalize a movement of servant leadership and collaboration with residents and businesses. We are also constantly working to be a trauma informed studio.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our shop. We hope to see you here soon!
Queen City Clay
Queen City Clay started as Annies Mud Pie Shop in the early 90’s. Annie Swantko (the original owner) rented an outdated factory building and slowly turned it into a 25,000 sq. ft. community clay studio and retail space. She ran over five miles of angle iron to build all of the student shelves and acquired more wheels than almost any studio in the country. Annie hired me (Ben Clark) to teach the advanced wheel classes and special events. At the same time she hired Chrissy Trout to help in retail and teach handbuilding. Soon after that, Jon Stein was brought on as a co-op student.
When Annie was ready to sell the business, one of my students bought the shop. His last name was Funke so we changed the studio name to Funke Fired Arts. I became Education Director, we hired Kirk Mayhew to build a sculpture program, and Chrissy and Jon both took more active roles in the business. After a few years, Tom Funke sold the studio to another student, Nancy Stella. This is when we picked up Beth Suellentrop. Beth, Jon, Chrissy, Kirk, and I are still with the studio today.
At the end of 2015 I was given the chance to buy the business with Denise Chase, yet another student of mine. We re-named the shop Queen City Clay and started working to move the business to a larger facility. In 2020 we were able to begin the purchase of a 50,000 sq. ft. building in Norwood. During the Covid shutdown, our staff moved the studio to our new home and we have been growing ever since. We currently have 8 full time and 40 part time employees and teach nearly 4500 students a year.