Laurie was so gracious to let me peek into her studio while she worked. She said she prefers to work on her own, mostly in her studio space tucked in the corner of the entrance of Queen City Clay, one of the largest pottery studios in North America. I was drawn not only by the detail of her work but also the contemporary drawings and colors. Her featured work is simplicity -- animal prints on clay in soft pastel colors.
She's been working in ceramics for more than ten years, and her skills in drawing show. After graduating with a Fine Arts degree from UC DAAP, she went to Berkeley to work for a small ceramic studio, but affordability of this city brought her back home. She worked in what used to be Funky Fired Arts (now Queen City Clay) on a part-time basis in exchange for a studio space. "I love how tall the ceiling is and how this place always brought inspiration to me. Sometimes I would never leave."
When I came in, she was working, not for herself, but for the studio, fixing "keepsake" ornaments orders that were neatly arranged at the table. "Madeline" was the name. She cut the clay, softened the edges and then it would lay dry for a bit before getting a piercing before firing in kiln. "Maybe it is selfish, but I love the idea that clay is a bit more permanent than paper, sometimes ceramics outlives us. The idea that artists want to have a piece of themselves to live longer is what made me wanted to do this." She went on to mention that the kiln that the studio uses is a high firing kiln, which is rare and will result in stronger ceramics than the low firing kiln.
Lately she's been working on a collaborative project with her ten-year-old nephew, drawing his artwork on the refrigerator magnets that are ready to sell. The funds collected go toward savings for his college.
For her next project, she will produce small pendants with writings that speak to her political beliefs, such as "nasty woman", or "nevertheless she persisted". It is her form of activism, and I told her I want one.
I'll be back to the studio to see her next process of drawing on ceramics. Stay tuned!
Say the word "coffee" and you got me. Coffee is more than just a drink -- it's a fuel, catalyst, dream and the magic of relationship and connections. And I know I'm not alone in this. Neighborhood coffee shops have been fueling the American cities in the last two decades With the number of coffee drinkers in the US now accounting for 52 million people, nearly 39 million go to a local coffee shop.
Maybe it's because the caffeine, but I feel energized every time I step into these places. I could sit by myself, meet an old friend or meet a new one. Even when I travel I look for the neighborhood coffee shops, since they most likely to cater to the community, I could "feel" the neighborhood through each of them.
The wait for a local coffee shop in Norwood has ended.
Dreamers and Doers
It's 10 o'clock on Saturday, December 10th when Brick Coffee Co. opened its door for the first time, and the line was through the door. It's been a long journey for the co-owners, six graduates from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio. After declaring their intentions to the network of Nazarene Churches, they finally got connected with Pastor Rob Westerman at SNC Church on Floral Ave. For about six months, they researched the market, got connected to a local roaster (Pneuma), and planned the details of their dream. The church converted office space for them to use.
Jenesis Clark, one of the owners of Brick, said that the idea for a coffee shop was sparked from a conversation about community. They hope Brick is the place where people feel welcome, regardless of what their day might feel like. It's the face-to-face interactions some people might crave, but also the freedom of being anonymous, if they choose to.
Most of the team are new to Norwood. They came here about six months before the coffee shop opened, intentionally living as a community a block away from the coffee shop. They researched the community, other coffee shops in the city (it's not hard to find good coffee in Cincinnati). They connected with Pneuma Coffee Roasters and became Pneuma's first vendor. Chris Bean, the owner of Pneuma has been taking Brick by its wing to operate as a competitive coffee shop.
Three weeks in, I'm hopeful that this place will brew not just coffee, but also great ideas, conversations and community.
Every month, BRICK chose a local non-profit to partner. They donate 50% of the tip to the non-profit partner. For the first month, Cincinnati Urban Promise was their partner and this month, St. Lydia's house, a women shelter in Norwood is the beneficiary.
Brick is a safe place for everyone big and little. Children love Brick for their steamers and hot cocoa.