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Clay Studio Renovation

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond boasts three, professional clay studios and Virginia’s largest ceramic studio education program.

VisArts was founded in 1963 in Church Hill as the Hand Workshop. Some of the first items installed in the original Hand Workshop facility included ceramics equipment and 56 years later, clay is VisArts’ most popular media in terms of class enrollment and open studio use. In 2018, VisArts completed a studio expansion project that allowed the center to add the Jim Valentine Clay Studio, a third clay studio that enabled VisArts to expand clay student enrollment by 30% and provide an ideal studio space for both youth and students with special needs. Despite the addition of a third clay studio, enrollment continues to grow and VisArts’ studios do not have the capacity to fit all of the students who want to register for classes. In 2020, VisArts will be a cohost for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ National Conference in Richmond, which will welcome over 7,000 clay collectors, students and artists. This event puts VisArts squarely on the national stage within the field of ceramics.


This winter, VisArts will make renovations to our clay studios in order to:

  1. Meet growing demand from students and studio renters
  2. Improve studio safety to reach national best practices
  3. Improve the efficiency of the firing process for all work made in the studio

By completing these renovations, VisArts will create world-class studios that can better support its growing audience of clay students and cement VisArts’ position as a leader within the broader ceramics community.


  • Relocating all kilns and enclosing the space by building an additional wall and closing an existing doorway all using firesafe material
  • Purchasing a new kiln
  • Installing improved kiln ventilation
  • Building and outfitting a new glaze and clay mixing studio in a former kiln space by adding ventilation. This space will be enclosed, then shelving and equipment will be installed
  • Building and installing additional shelving for student work in the new kiln area and in the former dry materials storage area

What this renovation will do:

  • Raise the standard of safety by improving ventilation and creating a safe enclosed space for all kilns that is fireproof for up to one hour.
  • Improve the flow of work during the firing process by centralizing all kilns and creating designated storage areas for greenware, bisque and glazed works
  • Create a professionally equipped glaze and dry-mixing studio that can better support the entire clay program. This space will also support additional classes like glaze-mixing and mold-making
  • Create additional shelving and storage for student work
  • Increase the amount of work that can be fired by purchasing an additional kiln

When this will happen:

VisArts’ clay studios are some of our facility’s busiest spaces. We cannot shut the studio down to complete renovations. Instead we will complete construction over the holidays and purchase and install new equipment during the winter session, ahead of the NCECA Annual Conference in Richmond in 2020.

December 2019-January 2020

  • Studio preparation and equipment removal
  • Major construction including building new walls and electrical upgrades
  • Ensure clay studios can resume hosting winter classes beginning January 6th during renovation

February-March 2020

  • Continue construction needed for storage, kiln room and glazing area
  • Purchase and install glazing room equipment
  • Purchase and install new kiln


what this will cost

Construction Costs $25,000
New large-capacity kiln $15,000
Ventilation repairs + equipment $7,500
Electrical upgrades $9,500
Glaze mixing tables and storage carts $5,000
Additional shelving $2,500
TOTAL $64,500

What your support can do:

  • Gifts of $250 will allow us to purchase and build new student shelving and storage that will help us meet the needs of our growing student population and our community studio rental program which began in 2018 and now serves over 60 clay artists each year.
  • Gifts of $500 can purchase new glaze mixing tables and equipment which lets us create a glaze-mixing studio that meets the highest safety standards for students and teachers as well as create a new space for small classes and workshops like slip-casting, mold-making and crystalline glazes.
  • Gifts of $1,000 will support new ventilation systems and repairs that will greatly increase safety for all students including our youth programs which now reach over 2,500 students each year, including 250 full-scholarship students in our after school program.
  • Gifts of $2,500 will purchase a brand new large-capacity kiln that will significantly increase the amount of student work that can be fired more quickly each week including our community partnership programs utilizing this studio. These programs serve older adults, veterans, and individuals with special needs and have grown by 30% over the last 5 years.