A look inside the Pottery Co-op

Anya Kauffman, Staff Writer

As students enter and exit the Marché, pottery wheels and giant bins of clay mark the entrance to an art studio.

These materials belong to the Living/Learning Center’s Pottery Co-op, a space that hosts a variety of pottery classes for its members all year long. 

The Pottery Co-op is a feature of Arts and Creativity, one of UVM Department of Residential Life’s learning communities.

The Co-op is not, however, affiliated with UVM’s art department or Williams Hall’s pottery studio. 

Co-op classes are not offered for academic credit.

Along with UVM students, the Co-op offers pottery classes for the larger Burlington community. 

Members of the Co-op are all ages.

Olivia Hartwig is the clay studio manager for the Co-op. 

The Co-op was founded by Tim McCosker ‘70 in 1973, Hartwig said. 

“When he graduated in the ‘70s, there was just this space, and he said ‘we could have pottery here,’” Hartwig said.

McCosker started to bring a group of his friends together to teach each other pottery, and it eventually turned into this small community, Hartwig said. 

Sophomore Sofie Pedemonti is a TA for one of the beginner classes. 

The class periods are a combination of instruction, free time and teacher guidance, Pedemonti said.

As a TA, Pedemoniti assists the instructor, prepares the clay and supports the students. 

The Co-op provides a non-traditional class setting in that the classes are composed of older community members, as well as younger college students, Pedemonti said.

The class instructors are either current UVM students or community members, much like the Co-op’s members

Additionally, there are 13 student employees who are paid through federal work study. 

The student employees generally serve as studio assistants, Hartwig said. 

The community aspect of the Co-op is the best part of it, Pedemonti said. 

“It’s just a really cool way to constructively support each other and build your own skills,” Pedemonti said. 

Hartwig said the Co-op is based more on community than it is on clay. 

They said members feel like they belong, and use the space to connect with people from varying experience levels and ages. 

First-year Ike Goldman is currently taking “Wheel-Throwing for Beginners.”

“It just seemed interesting to me, and like something valuable that I hadn’t had an opportunity to do before,” Goldman said.

Class sign-ups happen at the beginning of every semester, early in the morning and online. 

There is no application process, but it is very competitive. 

Seats are first-come-first-serve and usually the classes fill up within 30 seconds, Pedemonti said.

There are 10 active classes at the Pottery Co-op this semester, each meeting once a week. 

Hartwig said this is the highest number of classes there have been in one semester since they’ve been a member of the studio.

A UVM student pays $120 to enroll, and a community member pays $220. 

To remain a member of the Co-op in following semesters, members continue to pay their allocated fee. 

However, the price deal is fair, Pedemonti said, considering pottery is an expensive hobby to tackle.

“You have to take a class to become familiar with the studio culture and systems and safety,” Hartwig said. “Outside of your class time, you can kinda make whatever you want.”

In addition to fall and spring semester classes, the Co-op also has summer and winter sessions. Hartwig creates all of this programming.

“Being in the space, and connecting with different people, is where the joy and fulfillment really come from,” Hartwig said.