Walking Down Memory Lane

Pottery Lane potters wheel

Kelly Kermode still has the small pinch pot she made in kindergarten. It’s a reminder of where she started and where she’s going when it comes to life and her pottery skills.

“They’re good pieces to have placed in our house to say this is a journey,” said Kermode.

Looking around her home, you’d find more small pieces she made while learning the pottery process with her aunt. That education and those memories are as solid as the pottery she makes today, and the reason she’s in business and as passionate as ever.

“My parents would ship me off to my aunt’s house in Trenton, Michigan,” said Kermode, who realized she’d basically received a college education in pottery from her aunt. It wasn’t until many years later, after having a family that Kermode knew she needed to get back to pottery. If you ask her, pottery is a balancing force in her life. It was through teaching a class that she became aware of how much she knew and how much she wanted to share that knowledge with the world.

Kelly Kermode recently opened Pottery Lane Studio in Grand Rapids to provide a bit of respite in today's high stress environment.
Kelly Kermode recently opened Pottery Lane Studio in Grand Rapids to provide a bit of respite in today’s high-stress environment.

“I don’t have the right piece of paper to do it for public education, but someone told me I should open a studio and my soul leaped forward,” said Kermode, who hears echoes of reasons why she opened Pottery Lane in the first place. “It’s a great release. People need this in their life. They understand what clay can do to bring stress levels down. During a recent class I was telling people they had five minutes left and they didn’t’ realize where the time went. If you’ve lost three hours of your life here, that’s a good thing.”

After too much screen time, social media, phone calls and appointments, people are left feeling stressed and empty. Kermode wants to combat that by getting back to basic joy by putting your hands in clay.

“When I’m in the studio working it’s like a metaphor for life,” said Kermode, as she talks about having time to reflect and think. “To be fair, when you’re working with clay your hands are a muddy mess and you can’t touch your phone. You’re intentionally giving yourself that space to disconnect and claim your mindfulness.”

She’s also here to clear up any pottery studio misconceptions including the narrative that you must go in with a bunch of prior knowledge. If you’ve never touched clay before in your life, you still have a place at Pottery Lane. A clear majority of people attending classes have no experience and Kermode can tell you that working with clay is something everyone can do.

Pottery Lane offers a variety of opportunities to get your hands dirty.
Pottery Lane offers a variety of opportunities to get your hands dirty.

There’s the story of the newbie, a mom to eight children, who joined a class never having been on the wheel before. “She was so patient with herself and the method and she really produced some great pieces,” said Kermode. “She told us she really needed something like that in her life and to this day, I don’t think she understands her big accomplishment—most people don’t do so well on their first time.”

From first-timers to those with a little understanding to masters, all skill levels are welcome and there’s plenty of space to do it. Kermode’s favorite spot is the wheel that sits right next to the garage door.

“On a nice day I can open the garage door and throw and daily light and fresh air pours in.” From this nook in the Main Studio Room to the Mackinaw Room—made for big parties and company activities—there’s so much potential and room for creativity to grow including a small gathering Media Room, a spacious Glaze and Kiln Room and a Patio Gathering Room.

Pottery Lane welcomes all ages.
Pottery Lane welcomes all ages.

Whether you choose classes, camps, corporate opportunities or studio memberships, Pottery Lane is hoping to be a community hub for Grand Rapids, where guests may practice creativity, mindfulness and relaxation. The studio hosts many events and is working on one-night workshops during ArtPrize. They even offer a happy hour walk-in session for those that don’t want to waste time in traffic.

“Come in for a bit and unload your day and release tension,” said Kermode. “Then you can hop in your car when traffic has cleared, and you were able to be creative and relax before you came home to the kids and your spouse.”

Get your hands dirty and clear your mind at Pottery Lane Studio, located at 401 Hall Street SW in Grand Rapids.

*Photos courtesy of Pottery Lane

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