The Gorge Magazine - Winter 2019-20

Page 26

All images on this page by Kate Schwager


Building Community Through Clay The Clay Commons is more than just a pottery studio story by JANET COOK | photos by KATE SCHWAGER, and courtesy of CLAY COMMONS and JACKIE SELEVAN


ouse plants led Annelisa Gebhard to where she is now, sitting in front of a pottery wheel in a former Hood River cold storage building by the railroad tracks. The wheel turns slowly, controlled by her foot on a pedal, as she methodically shaves a thin layer of clay from the top of a small pot with a hand tool. “I’ve gotten really into plants and I got tired of buying pots,” Gebhard says. “They’re expensive.” So she signed up for an introductory pottery class at The Clay Commons, a ceramics studio run by Dyana Fiediga. By week seven of the eight-week class, Gebhard has made a collection of planter pots in various sizes, and has ventured on to creating a set of mugs. “It’s been so fun,” she says. “It’s a good creative outlet.” The Clay Commons has long been a dream of Fiediga’s, finally coming to fruition last year as a ceramics studio where she creates her own pottery, teaches classes, and offers space for other expe-

rienced potters to work. It’s a place for building community while building with clay. Fiediga got her start with clay in college while pursuing a fine arts major at Ohio University. “I was drawn to all the art mediums,” she says. “But I spent a lot of time working in the clay studio, mostly hand building.” She was particularly drawn to the tactile nature of clay. After college she headed west, eventually landing on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands where she met a potter who let Fiediga trade 26


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