Barb Gregoire works with a wheel to create pottery. [Courtesy photo]

Ceramicist Barb Gregoire loves the feel of mud in her hands and she wants to share that pleasure with others at her new studio, Desert Sun Ceramics, 1320 S. U.S. Highway 191.

“It’s amazing that you can take a lump of clay, and with your hands make beautiful art,” Gregoire said. “There are so many things you can do with pottery.”

Gregoire has her own complete set of homemade dishes – plus, she said she enjoys collecting other people’s work.

“What is so wonderful about pottery is it can be a functional piece of art that you use every day, or you can make sculptural pieces,” Gregoire said.

She particularly likes making different types of boxes, oftentimes using sliced geodes on top. Currently, she’s experimenting with a new technique transferring photo collages onto clay.

Gregoire taught ceramics in Craig and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, before moving to Moab in July, where, she said, she “traded one playground for another.” In Steamboat, she co-founded a cooperative artists gallery, similar to Gallery Moab.

At Desert Sun Ceramics, Gregoire is offering punch cards for 10 sessions, on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Three sessions will be offered each day: 9 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 3 p.m., and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Classes include a combination of wheel throwing, hand building, and altering – where you “put your own personality into the work by altering the basic form created,” Gregoire said. The clay studio has six pottery wheels, a couple of kilns, a slab roller, and an extruder – “all toys one needs to play with clay,” Gregoire said.

Class fees, $125 for 10 three-hour sessions, or $65 for five classes include the clay, glazes, firing, additional open studio time and instruction.

“My goal is for students to learn the basics and take those skills and infuse their own ideas of what they want to make,” she said.

One of her students, Moab resident Anne Dendel, said she has been making pottery off and on for many years and appreciates the professionalism of Gregoire’s classes.

“I am learning so much more than in previous classes I’ve taken,” Dendel said. “I’m learning all kinds of new techniques, especially glazing. It’s more sophisticated. I’m learning how to make patterns (and) design. She’s an amazing teacher.”

Gregoire is a former public school teacher who left that job about 15 years ago to pursue working with clay full-time.

After moving to Moab, she set up a studio in her garage, but soon realized she needed a larger space for teaching. She moved her studio into the same building as Canyonlands Field Institute. She also rents out private studio space there.

On weekends, Gregoire plans to teach specialty classes such as raku glazing, and holiday gift making.

“My goal is to bring in artists from around the country for workshops,” she said.

The studio also has a gift shop area where students, as they progress, can sell their work, Gregoire said.

In the future, Gregoire said she would like to organize a Moab Clay Artisan Group, and host a couple of pottery sales each year. She’d also like to involve the entire community by organizing a Soup Bowl fundraiser to benefit a local nonprofit.

Gregoire’s classes are for all ages.

“It’s super fun,” Dendel said. “It’s a great addition to our community. I’m getting better every day. I might make some holiday gifts.”

New ceramics studio offers classes, workshops, gift shop

What: Desert Sun Ceramics

Where: 1320 S. U.S. Highway 191

When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday classes; times vary

Cost: Punch card: $125 for 10 sessions; $65 for five sessions. Includes instruction, clay, glazes, additional open studio time, and firing

Information: 970-819-7938

It’s super fun … It’s a great addition to our community. I’m getting better every day.

For more information, visit Gregoire can also be reached at 970-819-7938.