Clay Associates has many decades of history in San Diego. In 1969, Rhoda Lopez opened its predecessor, a studio at 1735 Adams Ave by the name of Clay Dimensions. Rhoda was a mentor, friend, and collaborator to future Clay Associates Eric Woods and Jerry Thiebolt.
When Rhoda retired in 1983, the Associates bought the studio equipment and eventually moved down the street to the current location at 3667 Adams Ave. Jerry recalls taking a City College class on starting a business to help inform the process. It was often rocky in the early years, but with a wide base of support the group managed to pull through. Many friends and family helped the associates gather funds, along with proceeds from art shows, and over time the studio was able to pay off the mortgage on the building and attain the degree of security and autonomy that they had previously only dreamt of.
As a community of artists, creativity and resourcefulness were in great supply. The artful fence that borders the front garden, for example, was cobbled together from wooden scraps of a dilapidated shed in the back of the property (now the kiln yard). The decades of hard work and dedication that went into the studio are clear everywhere one looks- from the custom built deck and eastern wall, to the handmade brickwork that covers the courtyards. Jerry is the one with the green thumb, and is responsible for the masses of succulents and native plants both in the front of the studio and gracing the corners and nooks throughout the back.
The studio has increased class offerings over the years, and now serves 110 wheelthrowing and handbuilding students. The studio is very blessed to have a deeply rooted community thanks to many longtime students, friends, and patrons.