Thrive Clay Studio, Birmingham
The Maker: Lana B. Hobbs
Potter Lana Hobbs always loved making stuff with her hands. Even as a kid she was creating with clay, firing her youthful creations in the kitchen stove.
About a decade ago, she took a pottery class at a community center that reignited her passion for making things with clay.
Today, she teaches others about the joy of getting messy and creative with clay, while crafting her own distinctive designs.
She displayed her talents for teaching, and making items of extraordinary beauty, on a recent Saturday morning at Birmingham’s Pepper Place, where she has just opened Thrive Clay Studio. Children rushed up following her public demonstration at Pepper Place’s weekly farmers market for their chance to turn a lump of mud into something cool on the potter’s wheel.
“I’m more fun when I teach kids,” Hobbs admitted. “Adults come in holding on to a lot of things, as far as not wanting to screw up and not wanting to look stupid, and kids don’t have that. They come in and are willing to try things, and push things and screw up. So, kids tend to learn a little faster.”
“But I enjoy both,” Hobbs added, ever the diplomatic instructor.
Hobbs landed at Pepper Place near downtown Birmingham after her shared workspace in the Bluff Park area of Hoover closed. She was already selling her pottery and clay art at the Saturday market and loved the area’s energy.
“I believe cities thrive when they have places dedicated to play – space to create alone and to create in community.” Hence, the name of Hobbs’ studio, which serves as retail store, gallery and classroom.
Hobbs’ style is clean and modern, although the state’s long legacy of clay-making also is an influence.
“There’s a rich history of traditional pottery in Alabama,” said the Atlanta native who earned a master’s degree in art education from the University of Montevallo. That tradition has rubbed off on some of her work, and it resonates with many of her clients.
Still, Hobbs is loyal to her contemporary roots. “Modern surface design on an ancient art form is what I really love,” she said.
You can see it in her eclectic portfolio, which ranges from colorful and whimsical bud vases, to delicate teacups, to boldly glazed, organic and vibrantly textured wall tiles, to her evocative “bubble plates.”
Her style continues to evolve, reflecting the plasticity of her medium and what she absorbs from her students.
“Teaching classes really informs my work, because people are always asking questions – that I don’t know,” Hobbs said. “It pushes me to become a better potter: to understand the process deeper, and better.”
The Product: Hand-made clay pottery, utensils, tiles and wall hangings. Also, pottery classes for adults and children.
Thrive Clay Studio, 205-259-8524