[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
AUSTINTOWN — Sarah's Ceramic Studio is “a creative space for artists of all levels” that offers a walk-in pottery experience for the public and rentals for professionals, as well as a Makers Market for local artists to sell their pieces.
Although Sarah's Ceramic Studio opened June 1 at 4489 Mahoning Ave., owner Sarah Fenton’s passion for art has been lifelong.
Fenton studied art education at Youngstown State University for a few years before taking a different career path in 2017 when she hung up her smock and took a job as a technology and healthy-living teacher — that is, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I taught there for almost four years — then I quit because of [COVID-19]. I have an autoimmune disorder, so I didn't want to stay in that position anymore,” she said.
Fenton reverted back to selling artwork and jewelry online, which she’d done during her time at YSU. When she started gaining traction with her online business, Fenton decided to open Sarah’s Ceramic Studio as an outlet for herself and other local artists.
“I've always wanted to have a store of some kind for the art community,” she said.
The studio offers a ‘walk-in and create’ experience where guests can pull from the bisque ware wall and glaze at their own pace.
“All you have to do is grab a tray and an apron. You find a seat, and then there is an instruction paper on the table that you can sit at,” Fenton said. “We have a wall of bisque ware that you can choose from.”
“Step two would be, choose your color,” she added. “Step three is to mark your glazes, yell for me and then I'll come over and pour the glazes into the paint palettes for you.Then you can start [painting your ceramics] and you can sit as long as you want. Just enjoy your time. If [guests] have any questions, they can always ask me, and then when they're done, I clean up the mess for them.”
Additionally, Sarah's Ceramic Studio has a mud room rental, starting at $20, for up to five days, and a kiln rental for intermediate and professional artists. Fenton said the mud room has a spinning wheel and pottery turntable to appeal to both handheld and throwing clay artists.
According to Fenton, the studio will offer beginner classes starting in July and will start selling ceramic supplies and clay bodies to the public in August.
The studio’s current priority, however, is it’s in-house vendor market — or Makers Market as Fenton calls it — that showcases earrings, pottery, resin art and other handmade crafts and artwork.
“There are at least 10 vendors at a time that have their stuff [at the studio] that are selling them, and they’re all local artists,” Fenton said. “I want to give people an opportunity to sell their stuff, even if they are just starting out in what they love to do.”
Another initiative Fenton is taking on is providing free books to children who visit the studio.
“I think literacy is very important. So any fair and any business I have done and I've always had an opportunity to give out free books to kids. So [Sarah’s Ceramic Studio] is just the same. I have free books for kids who want to walk in and grab one,” she said.
Ultimately, Fenton’s goal is to find the passion for art in everyone, regardless of their background.
“I wanted to make sure that everybody had a chance to be creative because everybody needs that chance to let go [and] have a moment to themselves.”