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Sean kelly
The Clay Corner founder, owner, and operator.

My relationship with ceramics has many layers. As a studio owner, a lot of people ask, “Do you sell your work?” No, I don’t, and I don’t want to. Running a studio is a full-time job and it’s a lot different than making and selling work. I love ceramics and being able to preserve the ability to create what I want and when I want without the pressure of success being defined as a sellable piece keeps me loving what I do and loving ceramics.

When it comes to the ceramics that I create, I love exploring the unique performative aspect of ceramics. Unlike many physical art forms, functional ceramics get used, and as a result, contain an element of performance. Every dish, ceramic or not, makes a statement when it gets used. You probably wouldn’t use a red-solo-cup at an eloquent dinner party, but what would you use? Historically, cups at the fanciest dinner parties would show off beauty, as you’d find in twinkling crystal, or craftmanship, as you’d find in fine porcelain china, or even sentimentality, as you’d find in an heirloom.

I ask, what statement does my work make when it’s used and what statement does the user make when choosing to use my work? I don’t often like to get bogged down by other people’s statements, so I love using my own work. I love to create and use pottery which has those statements in mind. If I am creating work for someone else, I’d prefer to know who it is going to and why they want something that I’ve created.

Operating a studio fills me with such joy because I can share that with people. I love teaching people how to create their own work that brings them joy and how to create work that allows them to share themselves with the world. In a community studio, the part of our work that is the journey also gets to be shared. The magic of growing with people and then sharing that growth through the fruits of our journey is astonishing.

My Story

The studio has come a long way since I opened it in 2017. I get asked a lot "What made you want to open a pottery studio?". Well, I never really thought I would to tell you the truth. I discovered ceramics in high school and continued taking classes during college while I studied economics. Using the studio for my mental health was essential during that time. When I moved to Seattle in 2014 I worked out of Moshier Community Center but I shortly moved further north and commuting to Burien was difficult. At the time there weren't a lot of studio options in Seattle and the ones that were here weren't what I was looking for as a hobby potter. 

So I created what I was looking for; a comfortable studio for hobby potters to learn and connect with each other. Today, that is still my goal. I started with a 600 sqft studio and ~40 students and now we have nearly ~10,000 sqft and ~250 members. But I couldn't have done it without the support of the amazing community and my rockstar staff.

My Mission

In addition to striving to offer the most amazing pottery studio experience, I work hard to lead by example in the arena of "ethical capitalism". The studio fuels my way of life but it also supports its staff. I am proud to be able to offer 32-hour work weeks while still offering competitive wages and unlimited paid sick and holiday days. 

We also operate a "work-exchange" type setup which allows a certain number of members to help out at the studio in exchange for enough money to cover their membership costs in a way that doesn't exploit and protects their rights as workers. 

Our scholarship program provides a minimum of $4,000/month worth of memberships to people of traditional under-served and under-represented groups.

Our yearly apprenticeship program, along with other projects, aims to give opportunities to those looking to grow a career in ceramics. 

Our free Friday-Night-Open-House allows anyone to join our community by coming in and creating with us.

Our seasonal pay-what-you-can fundraiser sales raise money to support a local charity/ non-profit while simultaneously providing access to hand-made ceramics to those who may not be able to afford gallery prices. 

We are apart of our community and I take membership in that community very seriously. 

I am always looking to expand the ways that I can benefit the world. I am truly lucky to have found a career that lets me do that in so many ways. 

My Work

Studio & Business Services

My goal is to help ceramic artists create and run studios that foster a welcoming community in an organized and profitable manner while never ceasing to offer unparalleled service. 

Being a studio owner is a lot more like owning a business than it is like being a ceramicist. That is where I can help.

A partnership arrangement can provide the following benefits:

  • In-depth knowledge of how our business model functions on the front and back end, and live support adapting that model to your community.

  • Access to a variety of resources such as booking and membership software, business management advice, teaching guides, glaze recipes, etc.

  • Access to a network of studio managers to help problem solve with a personal and specific perspective.

  • Access to shared materials for marketing, event planning, scholarship opportunities, and more.

  • Business-to-business support allows studio owners access to resources that are both monetary and non-monetary, for the purposes of expansion and experimentation.

  • Brand recognition and inter-studio customer referrals.

  • Collaborating studios can share the use of spaces for things like gallery sales, training, workshops, and inventory. Space is a studio’s biggest expense.

Approaching business from new and positive directions is important to how I operate. 

My Business Philosophies and Guidelines:

  • The studio is propelled by the people who make up its community and the love they have of ceramics, especially its amateur hobby potters.

  • Members and students should never feel like a guest in the owner’s studio.

  • We consider customer requests based on the potential positive/ negative impact that granting that request may have on the studio community, not the owner’s experience. This isn’t a studio for the owner, this is a studio for the community, and the owner is a part of that community.

  • The studio business will pioneer principles in ethical capitalism. This is a heavy statement, but on the surface, it means that you will be ecologically conscious, friendly in business, and look out for your customers above all else.

  • The studio business will be a good place to work and operate above board. 

    • Currently at The Clay Corner:

      • Employees who work more than 5 hours per week receive one paid hour of Paid-Rest-Time (PRT) for every 4 hours worked. A full-time employee works 32 hours per week and is paid for 40.

      • Employees also receive unlimited PTO and sick leave and are encouraged to use it.

      • Employees are always paid by the hour unless their job responsibilities make hourly management difficult, only then is salaried work acceptable. 

      • Exploiting labor is unacceptable in any sense, including salaried position abuse.

  • The studio participates in equitable programs whenever possible. The most notable example is offering a scholarship/ pay-scale option. 

My Work


I am always happy to connect with anyone. Don't hesitate to reach out.

206.486.7213 ext. 3

Businss Servics
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