Eric Woods is the beloved studio manager at Clay Associates, and one of the original founders of the studio.
Eric moved to San Diego from Wichita, Kansas in 1959 at the age of 11. Though he always enjoyed the shop classes and art classes available in school, he didn’t encounter clay until enrolling at Mesa College in 1968. As he filled his schedule with as many art classes as he could, he picked up a ceramics class taught by Walter Chapman. Class by class, students received turns at the wheel in alphabetical order while the rest worked on other projects. With the last name Woods, Eric would have been waiting to try it till late in the semester. Yet as fate would have it on his 20th birthday, someone further up the alphabet was absent for their turn, and Professor Chapman picked Eric’s raised hand. As Eric puts it, on that day he realized himself reborn as a clay person.
While enrolled at Mesa, Eric was also a student of the legendary Dr John Conrad, to whom he attributes his inspiration to continue in the field. Widely regarded as both a brilliant mind and an excellent teacher, Dr Conrad would take any interested student as far as they wanted to go. He demonstrated to Eric that the ceiling for what was possible in ceramics was much higher than one thought.
After exhausting the supply of art classes available at Mesa, Eric was introduced to Rhoda Lopez in 1969 by his professor Walter Chapman. Rhoda was starting Clay Dimensions, and she immediately put him to work around the studio. By the time Clay Associates emerged from Clay Dimensions in the early 80s, Eric started teaching classes at the studio. Eric is endlessly dedicated to his students and really cherished as a teacher. He’s well known as exceedingly patient and humble- he would tell you that he owes this to clay, and that he is still learning its lessons.