Turning Clay into Objects Is a Lesson in Patience

Paola Rodriguez Beltran’s Mudd Studio in Honolulu’s Chinatown goes through 3,000 pounds of clay a month.
07 23 Hb Parting Shot Muddstudio Hero 1800x1200
Photo: Aaron Yoshino

Paola Rodriguez Beltran, owner of Mudd Studio, paints a vase in her 1,500−square foot ceramics studio on the second floor of a nondescript building in Chinatown.

Rodriguez Beltran opened Mudd Studio, formerly the Open Sea Studio, in January. The studio’s 85 members receive 24/7 access. “Creativity strikes at all times of the day and night, so we’re happy to enable people to do that,” she says.

Members vary from artists making sculptures for exhibitions to individuals who have never made pottery before. The studio also offers workshops, private lessons and events. The most popular items students make are bowls, mugs, vases and decorative plates.

07 23 Hb Parting Shot Muddstudio 1200x800

Photo: Aaron Yoshino

Clay used at the studio must be purchased through Rodriguez Beltran. She says the studio can go through 3,000 pounds a month, though clay scraps and abandoned projects can be recycled.

After sculpting a piece, the clay must dry for three days to a week before it’s fired twice in kilns. The first, called bisque firing, hardens the clay into ceramic material over two days at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The second firing is done after glaze is applied; it vitrifies the piece at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I think it teaches a lot of patience, understanding and many other things that I think people can start seeing in themselves when they start working with the material,” Rodriguez Beltran says.



Categories: Arts & Culture