With creativity — and the determination to cultivate her passion — Aerin Adrian recently opened eARThbenders and Artisans, a new ceramic and pottery studio in downtown Bellingham.
“I started making pottery 17 years ago at the Community College of Yakima,” Adrian said.
From there she went on to major at Western Washington University in East Asian Studies. Finding that her strong passion for her craft endured, Adrian said she wiggled her way into a pottery class at Western Washington University, but the class was reserved for art majors only. However, with her willingness to keep her passion alive, she said she convinced the professor of the class to let her take it as a humanities elective.
Years later, thanks to Adrian’s dedication Bellingham now has a studio where she and fellow artisans, first-timers, and children can go to improve their skills or learn a new one. “I didn’t plan to be downtown, because I didn’t want someone elbow-deep in clay running to feed the meter,” Adrian said. However, once she stepped inside the space, she said she knew it was the one. “This space has really good energy, and the floors were undone,” she said. Adding that clay is messy and the concrete floors would withstand the mess better than carpet.
The studio has five pottery wheels used for throwing clay — a technique that is used to create several types of pottery. At eARThbenders, artists use this technique to make teapots, vases, rice bowls, coffee mugs, plates and more.
“The most beautiful thing is to see all five wheels going at the same time, and to watch the people relax while throwing,” Adrian said.
Next to the pottery wheel station is one slab roller which is used to roll out large slabs of clay. In front of the five pottery wheels sit two hand-building tables, used to handcraft pieces such as sculptures and figurines. After being thrown or hand-built, the creation dries on a shelf. The next step is to glaze the piece in the glazing room, which is separate from the main studio. She added that the rooms are separate to help prevent dust from landing on the glazed pieces, which could cause smudges. Last, the clay is fired in one of two kilns — an oven-like mechanism. Once the firing process is complete, the pottery is ready to take home and use. Or some artists display their creations in the studio for sale.
eARThbenders is a community where all levels are welcome, instruction is thorough, and prices are just. Classes offered include sculpting, wheel, and a class for kids called Kids Club. Learn to hand-build in the sculpting class or how to throw in the wheel class, or have your children learn these techniques in the kids’ club. Experienced potters can rent wheel time and buy clay by the pound.
“I opened the studio for the people. I wanted a place where people could come to relax and share ideas, even trade pottery,” Adrian said. The process of making pottery is a creative adventure that Adrien has turned into a business. A passion cultivated through determination, and a dream come to life.
eARThbenders and Artisans
1411 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham
Mon.–Sat. 12 p.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 12 p.m.–8 p.m.