Brook Byars, Simpson alumn and owner of The Creative U, greeted me with a big smile as I entered the front doors of the small pottery and crafts workshop. Located in a little strip mall off Jefferson Street, The Creative U has become a regular hangout for Simpson students, from CAB activities to birthday parties or even Best Buddies outings.
From the entrance, you can see little tables and chairs around the room. On top of the short, white tables lay remnants of projects. Aligning the walls of the pottery shop are a variety of clay objects including bowls, cups, plates and other random items. One wall is simply dedicated to mosaic and glass objects and the other, clay.
As Byars pointed to some of the objects aligning the walls, she began to explain how they were made.
“We fire the glass pieces in the kiln and it becomes one piece of glass,” Byars said. “The second time they are fired to become whatever shape you want.”
On the back wall of the workshop, white signs are posted with The Creative U steps to decorating your own pottery. You first pick a piece of pottery to decorate. You then paint your pottery however you desire. Finally, you leave the pottery there to finish in the kiln.
If you’re not into pottery, you can create a mosaic. Pick out a shape or piece that you want to decorate, add your tesserae, [mosaic tiles) glue it down and regrout it.
Usually the pottery turns out with a shiny, glossy finish. What’s nice about the Creative U is that, even if you’re not artistically inclined, you can still come out of the shop feeling like you have just created a masterpiece.
Byars has certain goals for herself involving customers that come into the shop.
“[My goal is to] provide something fun for families and Simpson students to do and to be creative and make memories,” Byars said.
Byars believes that the pottery shop is a way for her to give back to the Simpson community. It also gives Simpson students something else to do on the weekends.
Since last year, CAB has been sponsoring various activities there. Rich Ramos, assistant dean of student activities, has been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm students are showing for Creative U.
“I didn’t expect it to be as popular as it has turned out to be,” Ramos said.
CAB regularly sponsors a project there every other Thursday night. This month, they plan to meet Nov. 1, Nov. 15, and Dec. 6.
Senior Afton Allen enjoys going there with the CAB program, and often brings her friends. She believes it is a great opportunity for her just to relax and socialize with her friends.
“We listen to music and just talk,” said Allen.
Usually, Allen has to sign up very quickly for The Creative U events because they fill up so fast.
“Have a friend sign you up if you’re busy in class,” Allen said.
If you would like to learn more about The Creative U pottery shop, you can check out their Web site, www.thecreativeu.org.