Business Profile: Southern PA Clay builds community

With mounds of clay and a teacher’s heart of gold, sculptor and teacher Corey Shultz has opened a ceramic studio in the iconic Olinger building at 102 Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg.

From the moment you walk in the door, it’s clear this isn’t just a cool new pottery shop, but a fully equipped artist’s studio space that invites visitors to imagine themselves seated at one of the many state-of-the-art potter’s wheels, feeling the clay sliding under their creative hands.

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Shultz says his first love is teaching. It’s easy to sign up for one of the many youth and adult classes he offers. Details are on his website, southernpaclay.com.

Though he began his time in art school studying drawing and painting, Shultz graduated from Northern Kentucky University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture, concentrating on ceramics.

The shop walls are lined with his many ceramic creations, available for purchase, which range from functional to sculptural, and which he talks about with enthusiasm.

Shultz does most of his work at his home and studio on the 200-year-old former John Deardorff farm east of Gettysburg, the property that brought him from Maryland to Adams County.

Although the shop features a new electric kiln purchased just for this space, much of Shultz’s work is fired in the wood-fired kiln at his home studio. The difference between the two kilns is not simply the fuel source, but the thousand or so extra degrees of temperature the wood-fired kiln generates.

Different results are possible with each type of kiln when combining one or more of twenty colorful glazes and using various firing techniques that Shultz shows examples of among his pieces.  

Speaking about his transition from drawing and painting to the more difficult throwing of pots, Shultz said “There are a lot of steps to becoming proficient. Once I would learn one of the steps further along, I’d have to go back and practice earlier ones. It’s a very technical process.”  And it’s a process he repeats in many and various ways.

One of his specialties, the “flask sculptures,” are whimsical, hand-built wood-fired pieces you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Shultz said he knew he had gained proficiency when he could “begin to decide what I wanted to make before I began to make it. I am grateful that I have the fluidity to make every piece what I want it to be.”

Shultz makes available all the tools and design elements he has collected so as to make his classes affordable and as creatively expansive as possible. He wants to share everything that he has enjoyed in his own creative process. His goal is to build a community of artists who support each other and share not only the space and tools but ideas as well.

In the downtown space, Corey’s hope is that he can create an atmosphere of relaxed learning to bring out the best in his students. He stops class in the middle for a tea break, to allow students time to breathe and relax and get to know each other and enjoy a nice variety of energizing snacks.

Corey speaks distinctly and thoughtfully, revealing his philosophy that words matter, both in tone and timing. His love of teaching is obvious from the smile that lingers as he recalls interactions with former students and his hopes for what is to come as Southern Pennsylvania Clay opens its doors.

“Almost anyone can do it,” Shultz says confidently.  That “anyone” could very well be you!

Southern PA Clay
102 Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg
southernpaclay.com

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Deb Collins has been in central Pennsylvania since 1989. Her children graduated from Gettysburg Area High School at the turn of the century and now live at opposite ends of the turnpike, Chelsea in Pittsburgh and Jake in Philadelphia. Raised in Connecticut, Deb enjoys the milder climate and the proximity to so many major cities that Gettysburg provides.

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