Summer. Sigh. It’s over. Officially, now that school has started. Sad but true.
One of the things that I love about summer though, if I can reminisce, are summer camps. It’s fun to look at all of the options and talk with Mason about which camps he wants to attend. Lego camp through Playwell has been at the top of the list for two years now. Swim lessons are usually right up there too but for whatever reason, swimming didn’t happen this year. Maybe because we spent most days at the lake and at the pool, but swim lessons took a back seat to Vacation Bible School and Sculpture Camp. I gave Mason the choices and that was what he decided.
I have to admit that I was so excited that he wanted to go to Sculpture Camp. Being artists here at home, any way that we can encourage Mason to explore his creativity we’ll take. A friend and mother of one of Mason’s pre-school classmates started Side Door Studio this summer and it’s really taking off.
Laura, the owner and artist, is a wonderful, fun, loving woman who has two children of her own and a passion for life. I was so excited to be able to take some photographs of her art, the children, herself and her beautiful assistant Emma.
To introduce you to Laura Winter and Side Door Studio, here’s a link to the slideshow of images I took during Mason’s camp.
I thought it would be fun to ask Laura some questions about how she started her business and what drives her to move forward. Being a woman and a mom and starting a business is something I’m familiar with and I always love learning about other women’s experiences. I hope you do too!
1. What was your inspiration to start Side Door Studios?
Here is what I said on my website: SIDE DOOR STUDIO was conceived by Sculpture Artist and mother of two budding sculptors, Laura Winter, while teaching classes in ceramics at a local school. Harnessing her own passion for self expression through sculpture, she encouraged the children to step beyond the lesson plan and freely express their own artistic vision. She was inspired by the sheer joy and passion that ignited the children and Side Door Studio was born.
When I began volunteering at MES I was disappointed with the lack of art being taught at our school. I asked a few teachers and was invited to teach clay projects. The feedback from the teachers was wonderful “I’ve never seen them so focused”, “this classroom as never been so quiet” “What a joy to see them genuinely excited about something” were a few of the comments I received. I saw the joy in their faces when I really challenged them and allowed them self expression, as opposed to presenting a lesson and having them all make identical items. I began to dream about being able to do it more often, without the constraints of traditional art lesson plans found in school. I knew I could only do it it if I had my own studio. At Side Door Studio we really encourage the kids, try to give them the confidence to have their own “voice”, enjoy the process of creation and emerge with a great sense of pride and achievement in what they have created. I decided to hold an art show at the end of each session so that the kids can really feel that sense of pride. I have been so moved at some of these shows that I have cried often while making a congratulatory speech! It is very moving to see a child with sensory issues, attention problems or a learning difficulty rise above those challenges and emerge from a week here with such a huge a sense of achievement.
2. What are your plans for the business during the school year?
There are a lot of things brewing here at the studio! We are presently enrolling for after school classes “The Art of Clay Sculpture” for elementary age groups. We will be offering the same for middle school age too. I will be holding a class for seniors and going to various retirement homes to teach there. I am conjuring up a plan to have a family day where each member of the family sits together, builds one individual piece that at the end of the class would be joined together to form a collaborative family sculpture. I am meeting with a caterer and event planner tomorrow and we are coming up with a plan to host birthday parties here year round. Finally, “PJs & Clay” our babysitting club will start soon. Kids come at 5pm, work with clay or other sculptural materials, then we cozy up for a movie and pizza.
3. Tell me about Cocktails and Clay
Cocktails and Clay started because so many parents had expressed an interest in learning about clay too. Many of them stay at home mothers with a need to get out of the house and relax while doing something creative. Many felt intimidated “oh…but I’ve never done this before, I’m really bad at art, I haven’t got a creative bone in my body”….and so on.. I knew that if we offered a relaxed setting, with no pressure or judgment and cocktails, the masses would come! Sure enough, the first night 10 women created some truly incredible things and surprised themselves all while chatting, eating and drinking and not even realizing what they were achieving!
4. Anything else you would want to say, any “fun facts” about you or the business?
We have a conga drum as a doorbell and I have often been woken to squirrels bouncing on it thinking that someone is here early for camp. I am in the process of making a giant sculpture of spaghetti and meatballs that will be made from over 400 lbs of clay and I am installing it on the roof. The spaghetti will literally be spilling over the sides of the house and sauce will drip down the walls. I am quite insane. Truly. A little odd :)
Laura, thanks so much for providing a safe creative outlet for our children and for us as well! I wish you tons of luck and success!!