If you’re looking for a date activity, a gift for your spouse, or to learn about sculpting and you live in Westchester, you should head directly to Yonker’s Pottery Studio (YPS). I sat down with Cori Morenberg, sculptor and owner of YPS to hear a little bit about the Westchester studio, how she got involved in pottery, and the amazing pottery and sculpture they have on display and for sale at YPS.
WESTCHESTER DADDY (WD): What can you tell me about Yonkers Pottery Studio (YPS)?
YONKER’S POTTERY STUDIO (YPS): Where do I begin?!!! We’re a super friendly community ceramics studio offering pottery wheel, handbuilding, and sculpture lessons for all ages and skill levels. We also offer membership for experienced potters and ceramists needing space to make and fire their own work. Because of our location, students and members come not only from lower Westchester County, as you’d expect, but also from New York City—from the Bronx, and northern Manhattan neighborhoods like Inwood and Washington Heights, and even from Connecticut and New Jersey, which at first surprised me. Our window front shop is stocked with ceramics handmade by teachers and members, open during our business hours, and we hold several sale events per year, including our big winter holiday one, coming up this year December 9th and 10th.
WD: How did you first get involved in working with ceramics?
YPS: Beyond making a few pieces in school as a kid, my first experience with clay was shortly after finishing college (nearly 25 years ago at a community pottery studio on NYC’s Upper West Side) in an evening hand-building class with a really great teacher. I loved working with clay, and I loved the friendly and encouraging studio community.
I hear you’ve studied extensively to get where you are and have worked in production facilities. What are the challenges for someone looking to establish him or herself as a potter today?
YPS: I think the challenges are different for different people, but I guess they fall mainly into the categories of finances and fear. My path has been shaped by both! I was passionate about it immediately, like I mentioned, so from that very first class I began buying and poring through books about pottery-making and bios of potters, asking as many questions as I could of the teacher and more experienced students, and visiting museums and galleries.
But as passionate as I was, it was really slowly and meanderingly that I plodded toward being able to open my own studio as I worked many other jobs over the years to pay bills and save. I considered returning to college and graduate school to study ceramics several times and it would have been a much quicker trajectory, but it didn’t fit my pockets or personality. I just slowly accrued skills by taking many classes and workshops, working for a time as an assistant to an established production potter, and before opening this studio four years ago I was one of a four-member cooperative studio for nearly ten years.
So I gained teaching experience and got a good taste of what it is to run a teaching studio. And even with all that experience, the learning curve was still steep and fears nearly paralyzing as I planned and opened this studio! And I need to say, too, that MY learning as a ceramic artist hasn’t ended. I still take workshops and classes and am currently midway through a year-long class with a senior ceramics teacher/practitioner which culminates in a group gallery show in May.
WD: Who else do you have on your team at YPS?
YPS: It’s definitely a team effort to run and maintain a thriving community pottery studio. Right now, there are five other staff members helping me with the space, doing everything from cleaning and kiln-loading to teaching.
WD: What kind of classes do you offer at the studio? Do you offer classes for young kids/birthdays or only older crowds?
YPS: We offer 8-week term classes, 1-day classes–like our Clay Soirée Friday evening class that a lot of folks use as a creative date night or friend activity. We also offer one-off private lessons and parties for adults and children. Mature teens are welcome in most of our adult classes, and for younger kids, and for kid/parent duos we offer private series classes where the parents must gather a minimum of 4 committed students to initiate the process of booking our class calendar. Beyond all these, we also offer technique and project workshops, and soon plan to offer some “craft cross-training” classes in things like drawing, painting, jewelry-making and printing, and social media marketing skills for artists, crafters and small business owners.
WD: What effect have you seen pottery classes have on those who participate?
YPS: This is the best part of running a studio and teaching pottery making, watching students’ and members’ skills and artistic voices grow, and as this happens their confidence in themselves as makers. It’s moving and inspiring. It’s also a place where friendships and bonds develop.
WD: What type of pieces do you have available for sale at YPS?
YPS: We’ve got a great selection of unique home décor, housewares, plant accessories and jewelry. Everything from mugs, vases, wine cups, bowls, trays and plates to candle-filled cups, spoons, plant pots, coasters, and decorative wall tiles. We also offer gift certificates that can be emailed directly to your inbox.
Where do you live now (neighborhood of yonkers) and what do you like about it/yonkers? What’s a favorite secret spot of yours in Yonkers?My husband and I live in the Park Hill neighborhood of Yonkers. Being a small business owner I don’t have tons of free time. I think we’re lucky to have Untermyer Gardens, but I don’t get there as often as I’d like. I enjoy walking our dogs in our neighborhood. I love that we have lots of trees, well-tended yards, historic homes, and river views. I also walk a lot in Tibbets Brook Park, and on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. My husband and I frequently eat dinner at Zuppa downtown and we love visiting Urban Studio Unbound right across the street when we can.