Curiouser Clay in Chelsea delivers experiential mobile clay workshops


Workshop participants getting creative. photo courtesy of Curiouser Clay

From office parties, to conducting workshops for developmentally disabled adults, to hosting a wedding shower in a greenhouse and playful two-hour workshops where people have made everything from fairy doors to gnomes to license plate mugs, to pie plates, Curiouser Clay of Chelsea is bringing the fun of creation and art to the community.

Owner and Chelsea resident Eli Zemper, describes Curiouser Clay as a mobile clay workshop that provides two-hour clay workshops in partnership with local businesses as well as at people's workplaces and their homes.

“We load all the tools and materials in our van and then visit people within a one-hour radius to do the workshop,” said Zemper. “When the workshop is over, we take all the completed pieces back to our home studio here in Chelsea to fire and then return the finished pieces to people back at the place we held the workshop.”

The Sun Times News (STN) connected with Zemper to learn more about Curiouser Clay. One of the first questions was what inspired you to start this?

She answered, “It’s no secret that many people are still suffering from mental health challenges that only worsened during the pandemic. In fact, some public health officials refer to our current state of mental health as the “shadow pandemic.” Rural communities often lack the resources that larger cities have to address the mental health challenges and need for community (re)building in the aftermath of the last several years. Over the last 10 years, Chelsea has lost its art center and five art galleries, leaving residents only two options: drive to the larger urban areas a half hour away to access clay programming or to go without.”

So, she said, “To address this important need we started a mobile clay business, Curiouser Clay, which delivers experiential clay workshops that are co-hosted by local businesses or at people’s homes or places of work. These “make-ations” are designed to help people unplug, de-stress, and find joy. The focus of these experiential workshops is to “make it better” through play and experimentation with clay and to encourage/re-build community connections.”

photo courtesy of Curiouser Clay

Since last March, Zemper said Curiouser Clay has brought clay workshops to over 800 people.

“We have facilitated office parties, conducted workshops for developmentally disabled adults, hosted a wedding shower in a greenhouse and hosted playful two-hour workshops where people have made everything from fairy doors to gnomes to license plate mugs, to pie plates,” she said. “When people come together, we don’t hear talk about all the things that divide us. We hear reminiscing about clay classes in middle school; laughter about how someone decided to build a part of their project; and about how amazed people are at themselves and others for what they have created.”

For her and Curiouser Clay, the mobile, pop-up clay workshop “is one way to help our community and other rural communities access clay arts programming and community supports for health and wellness.”

Here is some of what’s going on: in addition to the two-hour workshops that are offered locally at Robin Hills Farm and Hudson Mills Metropark, they are offering summer clay camps for children ages 9-13. These half-day camps will be held at Robin Hills Farm on June 19-23 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. They will also be offering food and ecology camps at Robin Hills Farm in July. For Mother's Day weekend, Curiouser Clay is doing a flowerpot workshop at Hudson Mills on Saturday, which will be a fun way for families to get together and do something creative.

STN asked Zemper what in particular do you want the community to know and she said, “We are in the planning stages of offering longer multi-session classes and are looking for a space to have a non-profit community studio that will provide a place for the community to fire their work, have open studio hours, and provide places for ceramic artists to accomplish their aims as well. If there are community spaces that fit this bill, we would love to talk about it!" 

Listings for upcoming workshops on their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @curiouserclay.

photo courtesy of Curiouser Clay
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