Village Clay, a New Pottery Studio in Hamilton, Opening April 1

Local potters Heidi Eakin and Krisa Verbitsky plan to open their own pottery studio in Hamilton, Village Clay, on Apr. 1. The studio is located at 37 Milford Street — about a five-minute drive from Colgate University — and will offer a wide range of activities, such as classes, paint-your-own pottery, and open pottery-making hours.

Co-owners Eakin and Verbitsky only recently met in Oct. 2022, when they discovered that they shared a dream of one day opening a pottery studio. Verbitsky has been a potter for the majority of her life and has had extensive training in different styles of pottery. 

“I’ve been doing pottery for 35 years, and I started in Connecticut. I started at the Silvermine School of Art when I was […] 14,” Verbitsky said. “I just kept taking classes there for, like, 20 years.”

Eakin completed the ceramics program at Skidmore College where she became a skilled potter and now works as a librarian at Colgate University. Though she enjoys working as a librarian, she noted that she is looking forward to reigniting an old passion in a village that isn’t already home to a pottery studio.

“I was just wanting to get back to it up here and I was like, there’s nothing like that [here]. There’s a place in Syracuse, there’s a place in Utica, but there’s […] nothing here,” Eakin said.

The studio at 37 Milford Street is a large, open space featuring many individual sections dedicated to a wide range of pottery mediums. One area has a row of pottery wheels, where artists can throw and sculpt. The long tables in the center of the studio — hand-built by Eakin and Verbitsky — provide a comfortable setting for paint-your-own pottery. The studio also has multiple shelves of ceramic figures, such as mugs and animals, that painters can choose from. Regardless of the medium, Eakin and Verbitsky created an intentionally open layout to allow potters to learn from one another. With help from community members and a Kickstarter campaign that has raised over $16,000 as of March 7, the pair are prepared to welcome all types of potters very soon.

“We’re really just hoping for it to be an avenue for people in town and students — […] something for [anybody] to do. There are a lot of artists in town. There’s a lot of people who are interested in pottery, and we’re really just that facilitator,” Verbitsky said.

Eakin and Verbitsky said that their individual strengths, when united, form the ideal business partnership, with the span of their experience justifying the variety of styles that Village Clay is set to offer.

“We each have our own strengths. This is definitely something that I’ve been wanting to do since my 20s, but I just never wanted to do it by myself,” Verbitsky said. 

As the name suggests, the owners of Village Clay will aim to foster a close community of potters by encouraging creative freedom. Eakin and Verbitsky also plan to partner with local entrepreneurs who would offer workshop classes covering various mediums, such as combining pottery with botany. 

“The other thing we want to do is do classes other than pottery classes, so we’ll have somebody come in and they’ll do a craft night at least once a month, where everybody can come in and make something. I would like to get other businesses in town involved,” Verbitsky said.

Additionally, the owners look forward to bringing in local, experienced potters to offer their hand in teaching the studio’s visitors.

“We would love to bring in other potters from the area to teach classes because each potter has a different style. It’s good to learn as many styles as you can so you can develop your own,” Verbitsky said. 

Eakin and Verbitsky view Village Clay as a representation of the close-knit Hamilton community — something evident in even the smallest details of the studio.

“All of our glazes will be named after streets in town,” Eakin said. “To us […] it’s not just like a studio or a business, but like we’re building a community.”

First-year Dilni Pathirana is particularly looking forward to the opening, as she has been hoping to bring back her love for painting and designing pottery.

“I’m really excited for Village Clay to open. I used to do a lot of paint-your-own pottery at home, and I think it’s great that I can continue doing that here in Hamilton,” Pathirana said. “It’s also a lot of fun and a unique way to do something off campus with friends.”

Eakin and Verbitsky are working hard to put the finishing touches on their new studio before the opening on Apr. 1. To schedule classes, view opening hours or learn more about the studio, their phone number and contact information can be found on their website.