meet the staff

Meet our QCC family.  Queen City Clay relies heavily on a wonderful staff of  instructors, residents, and co-ops; along with a few  key folks that work to hold it all together.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to our instructors’ personal websites. 

Ben Clark

I am the president here at Queen City Clay, or “Leisure Consultant”, as my older brother liked to call my position.  I have the best teaching staff in all the land and love working with them and our incredible student community on a daily basis.  I am pretty loud at all times so you should be able to find me in the studio.  Some might consider me a good looking rebel that plays by his own rules, while others use the endearing term “dork”.  I went to DePauw University for undergrad and got a degree in English (yes, English.)  I then went to Wichita State for my M.F.A. in clay.  I work mainly on the wheel and create sculpture as well as functional forms.  My wife is a UC professor and we have three great kids.  Come in and say “hi” sometime.  I would love to show you around!

Chrissy Trout

Chrissy is our lead handbuilding instructor and studio administrator.  She graduated from Miami University and is the polar opposite of a sorority girl.  She has been hardened by northern Ohio winters and raising two kids and a husband.  Chrissy has now taught herself web design and analytics which means she is the only one who can control the robots. We all do exactly as she says, when she says it.  She also happens to be a brilliant teacher and her students tend to say “Well, that’s not how Chrissy does it”  when we help them outside of class.  We are all convinced that if she wasn’t working for us she would be paid to sit in a room and solve the world’s problems, two at a time.

Beth Suellentrop-Barkey

Dirty Sculptures, saucy comments, oversize sunglasses…classic Beth.  Beth came to us straight from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, or Fancy Pants School as we like to call it. She has a very cool husband and two awesome boys (who also look very hip in big sunglasses!) She’s in charge of major accounts and seems to be able to handle ANYTHING!  We put her in a straight jacket and suspended her over a shark tank right before we opened…she still beat us to the first customer.  Aside from her sales prowess, Beth is also a great teacher and all around ceramic artist. She forgets half of what I tell her but I just realized that’s called “Selective hearing!” And to be fair, I say a lot of ridiculous things. Come in and say hi because we love her and we know you will too., @bethsuellentrop

Jon Stein

Jon started working here when he was three. When the studio rented it’s first space, Jon was just there, waddling around, drinking bourbon, and making pots. He left us for a small amount of time after getting his B.F.A. at Northern Kentucky University. We don’t really speak of this time but apparently he like, studied in Japan, got an M.F.A from Utah State, taught at SUNY Oneonta, ran a small public studio, did some residencies…blah blah blah. But we always said he would be back when our local distilleries had enough bourbon in their stockpiles. Aaaannnnd he’s back! Jon is running our education department which includes everything my wife won’t let me do anymore. This works out really well for my marriage AND the studio because aside from being a very talented teacher, he is also incredibly well versed in firing techniques and materials so if you are looking for answers; bring your clay thoughts to Jon.  There are things Jon isn’t good at though……..sports and …accepting other peoples opinions. We like him that stubborn though. He gives us street cred!

Jess Thayer

The west side of Cincinnati is a ride or die type community. They make their roads so complicated that once you get in there, you never find your way out. Jess Thayer, who runs our youth programming and special projects division, was adopted by the west side in a way most outsiders only dream of. Jess moved to Westwood with her family and worked tirelessly to revive the Westwood art show; a street fair that brings community and art together. She was so successful in bringing this neighborhood back to life that a billboard size sign on the side of a building saying “THANK YOU JESS” was displayed. What do you need to make things like this happen? Well, just the heart of a lion, an undergrad degree from UC in Urban Planning, a grad degree from Clemson in Landscape Architecture and badassery, your own clay business, and mother two boys and 10,000 bees. NO BIG WOOP! We love having Jess here and even though she has moved to another part of Cincinnati, she brings that ride or die west side spirit to Queen City Clay and every amazing class she designs for our youth. We thought it was illegal to move out of the west side but apparently it’s ok as long as you get a WS tattoo on your lower back. OOOPS, I wasn’t supposed to say that., @contoursandclay

Hillary Wagner

You know those Disney movies where the leading lady walks to the window and birds fly out of the forest and land on her finger? We think that is where Hillary came from. She has an innocence about her that makes the rest of us seem like the shady ruffians from a 1960s musical. We accept that characterization proudly but also really appreciate the fresh eyes Hillary brings to the retail shop. For our Halloween party, Hillary and her amazing partner Joe came dressed as giant sized potter’s ribs. How good is that!!!!!!! She didn’t quite know what she signed up for when we hired her but she came from a farm family and graduated from Parsons so she can handle an overload of hard work and talk shop with the best of ‘em. She puts education at the forefront so ANYONE, even if they have no clay background, can walk into our shop and start their clay journey with no stress. Let me sum up……… the Hillary factor. BUT………we are really tired of catching and releasing all of these damn birds!

John Fowler

Before John was hired to manage all of our firings, clay production, and warehouse, he was an exotic dancer. Lumberjack John they called him. We knew this was going to be a bonus when we hired him but we were completely off base on the REASONS why. John’s amazing flexibility and military style workout regimen make him uniquely fantastic at loading pots without breaking them, maneuvering the carts with dance-like flow, calming impatient artists who want their work fired immediately, and spinning effortlessly back and forth between the clay mixer and the pug mill. It’s beautiful to watch…….we should sell tickets. John also runs the alternative firing program which has seen huge growth since he took over. Get your mind out of the gutter. His eyes are up here!

Kelly Johnson

     Be our Special Events Coordinator they said! It’ll be fun and relaxing they said! These are the things that run through Kelly Johnson’s head on a daily basis. After retiring from the fast paced world of big company graphic design, Kelly thought she would slow down, play some golf, and work for a fun-loving pottery studio. Well, we ARE fun but Kelly stepped into a huge job and is incredible at it. We are lucky she loves roller skating because that’s the only way she can get through the building fast enough to organize all these classes and parties! She’s a true artist at heart and her two boys followed suit. So now that you know who she is, email Kelly and get your party pants on! Make sure they can get dirty though.

Andy Overton

You know those people that learned to make bread during the pandemic…….that wasn’t Andy. He took up pottery instead! He came to us straight from the fast paced world of TV news where he was a camera man and assignment editor. He has the look of a metal head that got lost at Woodstock on accident. Come to think of it, that explains his temperament too! He is very chill, can handle chaos quite well, and is ready to rock any project we give him. Andy started as our special events coordinator but has transitioned to a retail position because he can’t stop talking about commercial glazes. He is an amazing sketch artist so ask to see his doodles sometime….they are really good! Why did that just sound inappropriate? Andy is married and has two amazing boys that have acquired his art talent. So grab your comic books, put on some Queen and get over here to talk glazes with ANDY!


Stella Kelley

     Stella is an art kid. She was artsy fartsy from the time she was born. Her dad is an amazing local potter and all around sweet guy. Stella got the art and the sweet from him but we have no idea where she got the coolness and professionalism. (take that Scott!! The insults stop when you start to come around the shop more!) Ms. Stella is one cool cucumber who has worked her whole adult life while crushing school at the same time. Just to test her we sent a dozen school kids and a chicken into the retail shop at the same time to try and stress her out. Within five minutes she had the kids running a lemonade stand selling farm fresh eggs while she got the other customers their clay and glazes! What college kid does that???????? Oh wait……She’s a college GRADUATE now!!!!!  You’re amazing Stella……we love ya.

Beth Lanman

     Beth is a thrill seeker. She rides horses, scuba dives, and generally feels comfortable around fire. So, when we needed a little help in the retail shop before NCECA in Cincinnati, she seemed like a perfect fit. We figured, she’s fine with sharks and 1000 pound animals, she can handle working with our staff. (We are a little unruly!) Boy were we right. Beth is an amazing addition to the staff and aside from running the show on Sundays, she is working on her teaching skills. If you hang around retail too much, she might yell “Giddy Up.” That’s your cue to head out!


Kirk Mayhew

Kirk is one of the craziest people any of us have met.  He can make you think about the world in a completely different way (as long as you understand what he says).  In the last few years, Kirk has tripled the size of our sculpture program.  His students tend to find their voice quickly and never look back.  Please don’t lay any snacks down beside him while you are in the studio.  He has two hollow legs and, much like a stray cat, if you feed him once he might follow you home.  People who feed him do tend to get their sculptures through the kiln faster.  Food for thought.

Phil Taylor

We actually don’t want Phil to work at all.  We just want him to cook all day and night so he can bring us leftovers.  Phil’s brisket is AMAZING…and to be honest…so is his glass work.  Mr. Taylor joined the program a few hundred years ago and we couldn’t be luckier.  He started out teaching a glass program and is now in charge of mixing, formulating, and testing all of our cone 10 glazes and helping to maintain this massive building.  We think he should be living in Portland Oregon because he puts birds on all of his pots, but we love him anyway!

Andrew Osterburg

Andrew was a student of ours and after talking to him we realized he was a scientist. SO, we hired him to do all of our science stuff! He and Phil geek out over glaze calculation and how likely it is that we are just a mirror image of another universe where our pets are the dominant species and we are simply companions. We love having his brain around……and the rest of him is pretty cool too. It’s 87% by the way. That’s the likelihood.

Meet our Teachers!!!


Besides the regular studio staff, we have some amazingly talented instructors here at QCC that deserve to be highlighted!  Those who’ve decided to share their websites or social media handles are listed here.  Click on the links to see what your teachers are making!

 Looking for our residents?  Find them on the RESIDENCY page.

Angela Belcher Clark:, @abpottery (insta), ABPottery (fb)
Holly Barrett:, @hollibell3
JW Webb:
Katie Swartz:
Sara Torgison:
Tony Weiss: