Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pottery with Good People

If you had a chance to visit the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival you may have seen Penguin Foot Pottery's booth of artisan ceramics. From a gorgeous array of goblets, vases, and bowls to a hand-casted chess set—Penguin Foot Pottery boasts an inventory of quality work. The business is lead by the owner, Chris Busse, a graduate of SAIC in ceramics and arts education, and his lovely administrative counterpart Paige Bailey. They opened up shop only a year ago, and Penguin's going to have its first birthday party in October which will be open to the pubic for all to celebrate!

  
Courtesy of Penguin Foot Pottery
Penguin Foot is located at 2514 W. Armitage Avenue, though the entrance is actually just around the corner on Bingham Street. Tucked comfortably into a re-purposed industrial complex on the fringe of Logan Square, it is easily accessible from many of the area's surrounding neighborhoods.

Penguin Foot offers moderately priced classes that cater to patrons of all ages and skill levels, including a kid's clay hour, beginner's workshops, open studio hours and even a happy hour class on Saturday nights. I had the pleasure of attending a class two weeks ago and tried my hand at the wheel for the first time. At $25, which includes materials and three hours of class time, it was a great deal. Chris taught the class himself and was always ready to contribute insight or lend a hand to a shakily spinning vase. He makes throwing pottery from scratch look like child's play. Though difficult for the uninitiated, his easy going attitude and pleasant disposition keep even eager beginners like myself from getting frustrated.

Courtesy of Penguin Foot Pottery
Chris began the class with a demo of how to center the clay and set the speed of the throwing wheel. There was a large supply of extra clay to accommodate the inevitable mistakes. With six wheels in the studio it was an cozy class, and the students were soon joking as they worked. Making the class even better was the music; the White Stripes were playing—as a music and art combo is truly a must.

It was a blast and I'm proud to say that Penguin Foot Pottery  - both for its people and classes - is by far one of my favorite Chicago businesses. I encourage you all to go check out their website, take a class and watch out for the birthday party extravaganza happening this October!

-Alex Palmer

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