Sorting the finished pottery is not boring for Cindy Hansen.
As the first of three owners and founder of The Mud Room pottery studio on East Walnut Street, nothing makes her happier than seeing the finished pieces go home with their artists.
“This is my favorite part,” she says. “It’s like Christmas.”
When she first opened the studio in 1998, it was mostly for her kids. A friend had moved up to Lake Michigan, and Hansen and her three children would visit in the summer.
“All they wanted to do (when we were there) was paint pottery,” she says.
Hansen is originally from Columbia, but left to attend college in St. Louis. As her kids grew up and took a natural interest in pottery and painting, Hansen saw a need for such a place in downtown Columbia, and she wanted to open a business anyway.
“I had school-age children and needed a mom-friendly job,” she says.
And so The Mud Room was born.
In the studio, anyone can walk in and attempt wheel work, painting pottery pieces, free-form clay, paint-spinning and more. Courtney Hawk, the current owner of The Mud Room, has a master’s degree in ceramics and leads classes in subjects like pottery and the wheel used to form it.
Hawk has been involved in ceramics since she was young. When she was approached by her predecessor, the owner after Hansen, she took the jump and took over the studio, something she never saw herself doing as a graduate student at the University of Central Missouri.
“It all just ended up working out, strangely,” Hawk says. “I never expected it.”
This year marks The Mud Room’s 15th anniversary, and looking back, Hansen says that it’s been a nice change of perspective to see the studio from inside out.
“Working in the business instead of on the business, I get to see a lot more and enjoy it,” Hansen says.
At The Mud Room, Hansen gets to see date nights, which are as popular as birthday parties at the studio. Since couples can bring their own snacks and drinks, they can eat and relax while painting.
The sweetest thing Hansen has seen?
“The ‘Will you marry me?’ plate, probably,” she says.
Hansen says The Mud Room does more than help customers of all ages create painted pottery.
“If I think about it, the amount of things that have been churned out of here … to have stuff like this on your shelf, to be like, ‘I made this when I was 7,’ ” Hansen says. “That’s special.”
Hawk couldn’t agree more.
“It’s a personal experience, too,” she says. “The kids’ groups that we have, … they’re so rewarding because the kids get a lot out of it. They learn confidence, patience.”
With the 15th anniversary of business, there are specials like Take Home Kits. Customers can purchase pottery and three paint colors, take them home to paint and bring the work back to fire at no extra cost.
The Mud Room also offers Mobile Studio services for organizations, Greek houses and other groups of students to have pottery and paint brought to them. During the summer they’ll also be putting on special outdoor events and doing unique firing classes.
Stay tuned to the shop’s Facebook page for updates.