Sun City West Clay Club History
It all began in 1984 with Paul Holmes and Jane Schaible, manned with information on how to begin, they met with the
Sun City West Recreation Center regarding starting a “Clay Club.”
The Rec Centers assigned a room at Beardsley Rec Center and issued a $200 start-up fee. A charter was drawn up. There were 26 people at the first gathering with suggestions on how to acquire teachers. Members did a lot of “teaching each other.” In order to expand the knowledge base of throwing on the wheel and hand building, outside instructors were invited to teach classes and workshops.
A kiln was furnished by the Rec Asssociation and set up in a small room at the back of the club area. The Association also built cabinets and furnished tables along with two wheels. This was the true “beginning” of the Sun City West Clay Club. The first meeting was conducted in May, 1985, and with the election of officers we became a Charter Club.
The club newsletter – MUDD TIMES – was created with the following mission statement:
“Mastering of mankind’s oldest arts and crafts, that of making pottery, is an opportunity given Club members. Raw clay is creatively formed by hand or wheel into unique shapes which then are fired and decorated into works of art or utility. In short, it is making mud into masterpieces.”
By 1996, the club’s equipment grew to four electric kilns and six wheels along with the other needed hand-building equipment. With the constant growth in membership, we soon outgrew our original dwelling.
In 2004, the club moved into a newly created area at Beardsley Rec Center which allowed us to accommodate six kilns, a classroom, additional work tables and drying space for our art. This new area also sported a covered patio to do sanding, extruding, spray painting and Raku firing. In 2011, through the support of all the members, the patio was enlarged to almost triple it’s original size.
Membership grew from approximately 26 people to more than 250 in 2012. Currently, the club has over 300 members. Originally the club hours were 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. six days a week. Due to Covid 19, the current hours are Monday though Friday from 8:00 – 4:00.
Supplies have always been available through the club. When the club first began a couple of different clays and three leaded glazes were offered. Now the club offers several different types of clay and a variety of non-leaded, food safe glazes.
Many types of classes and workshops including sculpture, coiling, raku, and special interest topics have been offered.