Member Spotlight – The Clayworks
Clayworks, a unique art gallery and gift shop, is a small part of a much larger organization – Disability Supports of the Great Plains. Disability Supports is a service provider for individuals with developmental disabilities that serves the McPherson area. “This gives them a place to come and work. This is a job for them and it’s also an opportunity for them to express themselves creatively,” said Clayworks Retail Manager Jenna Parli.
The clients that Disability Supports serves are able to come into the Clayworks studio each day and work and create. They make ornaments, gnomes, wind chimes, and most recently coasters that fit into car cup holders. The artists at Clayworks also make jewelry! They do mosaics, as well as create greeting cards. One of the things that makes Clayworks unique is that the artists are creating their pieces in a studio right by the retail store. Customers are welcome to wander through the studio area and visit with the artists. Jenna added, “They love telling people about what they are doing. They’re very proud of themselves for what they have done…they love telling people about their successes as artists.”
Tour groups are welcome at Clayworks. It’s a great chance to learn more about the operation, what they do, and how they function. Folks touring have the time to actually watch the artists as they create their masterpieces and visit with them. The artists get to share their thoughts and inspirations about their art.
The staff at Clayworks is unique too! They are trained in art and are artists in their own right. They bring to their jobs that creative sense needed in an artistic environment. They are also trained as support staff so they can see to the other needs or issues the Clayworks artists might have.
Clayworks has been a very successful venture for Disability Supports and for their clients. It has been so successful that in July of this year, Clayworks opened a second location. “Because of the support that we’ve gotten from the McPherson community in the last ten years, we were able to expand our program into the Hutchinson community as well,” said Jenna. With the expansion they’ve also been able to grow their program offerings, which includes industrial arts and culinary programs.
If you visit the Clayworks Facebook page, you will be able to see some of the art pieces made by their artists. Clayworks does take special request orders. One company ordered 265 ornaments and each ornament is being shipped out individually to the company’s customers next week! She was quick to add that because each piece is carefully handcrafted, it does take a little extra time filling the orders. So, if your company or business would like to have Clayworks prepare a unique giveaway item for a special occasion or for the holidays – they can help you out! But remember to plan ahead!
Clayworks is located at 107 N. Main. Their hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Be sure to visit the Clayworks Facebook page and website and stop in at their gallery/gift shop to see what treasures they have waiting for you! Photos from Chamber Connections hosted by Clayworks can be seen here.