U.P. ceramic businesses ‘clay’ out the pandemic through creative Sisu

Pottery owners continue evolving and adapting their operations to keep the business wheel spinning during the pandemic.
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – The art of pottery-making consists of spinning power and craft that’s lasted for millennia.

But HOTplate Pottery and Clayworks owner Melissa Sprouse said adapting and evolving has been their mantra since last March, when the pandemic nearly put the brakes on their wheel-throwing classes -- for the community.

“It was one of those things where we just had to really swap what we were focusing on with Clayworks. So we grew our membership first and then making sure people know that they can come in without experience to try the wheel,” she explained.

Last November, they moved to the historic Masonic Center in Downtown Marquette. And their new home has been more than welcoming -- especially when indoor capacities have reached the max.

“We’ve got tables (out) in the atrium so it’s super-easy to spread people out in a safe way but still feel like you’re coming out and doing things with other people,” said Sprouse.

The wheel continues spinning by a growing artisan community in Marquette. Northern Michigan University of Art & Design graduate Niikah Hatfield helped start HOTplate Clayworks.

And she opened her own studio on Apr. 24 which specializes in hand-crafted ceramics -- Niik Creative in Presque Isle.

“A lot of that ties in to the pandemic. You know we’re all spending time at home, slowing down a bit. That has been like a huge incentive in the direction I’ve taken with Niik.

Creating things that are related to making a nice space in your home -- to bring more essence and care to how you’re living,” Hatfield said. Learn about booking a clay workshop at HOTplate HERE.

For customized ceramic products by Niik Creative, contact them HERE.

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