top of page

About Us

CLAY CREATIVITY AT PLAY

Usher yourself into an exciting new world where creativity and play take you on a journey of artistic discovery. Join us for a workshop or schedule your class today at Sarasota Clay Company.

Our Founder

Carla O'Brien

Carla lowering raku kiln
Carla teaching wheel throwing
Carla and a kitty

Born and raised on a dairy farm in Lowville, New York, Carla grew up in a big family, one of seven children. Lowville was a dairy community, a town that had more cows than people. “The clay studio is like a farm, almost. During the season, kilns have to run practically every day. We are always busy loading or unloading the kilns. There are supplies to be ordered, inventoried and shipped, glazes to be mixed, and clay to be recycled.” ​ “Carla’s Clay sounds like a little hobby shop. But when people walk in, they go ‘Whoa!’ This is a big operation. We run classes for all ages 5 days a week. Clay is a commitment, you know. It’s a process.” ​ In October of 2002, Carla and her husband, Tim, bought a warehouse in Northgate. In true barn-raising style, family and friends rallied to help renovate the building and turn it into the 5,000 square foot pottery studio that exists today. Says Carla: “I love the business part – my dad instilled great business ethic in us all. My siblings are all successful business people; we learned early that working hard pays off. That part of me, I don’t want to give up, but the creative still has got to come out. If it doesn’t, it’s simply not good for your soul.” While Carla draws her inspiration and support from many areas that include friends and family, her main line of support comes from her long-time friend and husband, Tim O’Brien. Carla and Tim moved to FL from northern New York. That is where Carla began thinking of her lifetime dream, that of owning her own pottery studio. Finally, in 2002 Carla and Tim founded Carla’s Clay – and today this wonderful creative space is called Sarasota Clay Company.” ​

Meet Your Instructors

Carla teaching wheel

Carla O'Brien

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Carla is the Founder and Owner of Sarasota Clay Company (formally Carla's Clay). She has been teaching and working with clay for most of her life. A wonderful teacher for beginners and experienced potters, she strives to create a welcoming, familial atmosphere at the Studio.

Josh Holbrook

Josh Holbrook

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Josh graduated from Florida State University in 2009 with degrees in Studio Art and Art History. With a focus in photography, he later moved into ceramics which led to teaching high school and adult education. Mr. Holbrook moved back to Florida with his wife and began teaching art at Sarasota Military High. His approach is grounded in a phrase his first ceramics professor taught, “love the process, not the product”. Josh’ work has been shown in galleries in Florida, Virginia and with Naples Art Crafters.

Margaret throwing on wheel

Margaret Ellis

  • Instagram
  • TikTok

Margaret graduated from SCAD in 2011 with her BFA. While her focus is wheel-thrown functional ware, she is always up for expanding her creativity and skills when it comes to sculpture and handbuilding. Margaret is the Studio Manager at Sarasota Clay Company, as well as teaches Intro to wheel and the Kids & Clay classes.

New work by D' Calvert

D' Calvert

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Ms. Calvert works in her home studio. Inspiration for her work comes from daily life, the pure joy of observation. Clay demands an attentive relationship. D’ is happiest during those quiet studio hours when time ceases to exist. Ms. Calvert is a seasonal Instructor at Sarasota Clay Company. She has exhibited at Orlando Museum of Art, Art Center Sarasota, Art Center Manatee, Florida CraftArt, R.C.A.D, and is in collections nationally. Her experience includes teaching at Ringling College of Art and Design Continuing Education, Wildacres Retreat, and attending workshops with Michael Sherrill, Matt Long, Ron Meyers, Elaine and Tom Coleman, Robert Boomer, Brad Schwieger, Gay Smith, and Nick Joerling. These experiences were invaluable and the class notes are a frequent source of reference.

Kristen Berry

Kristen Berry

  • Etsy
  • Instagram

Kristen graduated from University of Montevallo, Montevallo AL where she cultivated her love of ceramics and metal arts. She incorporates hand-building and altered techniques to her wheel thrown pieces, pushing the boundaries between form and function.  “Most sculptures I create are crossbreeds between unicellular organisms, simple machines, and alchemical tools; many of them have curious personalities and questionable functions. The outcome of combining all of this subject matter is a collective body of work that I could describe as a quaint, surreal, alchemy lab in a space wizards’ cave. The intention is to cause the viewer to question what it is they’re looking at, whether it be functional, sculptural, or reminiscent of some type of living form. My art is not meant to provide any concrete answer, but to provoke a sense of wonder.”

IMG_8569_edited.jpg

Kait Fitzgerald

  • Instagram

Kait graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2023 with her BA in Visual Studies with Minors in : Fine Arts, Film Studies, and Art History. She began working here as a sophomore in college back in 2021 and has continued to dedicate her time on the weekends. As a studio assistant and part-time teacher of the Kids & Clay classes, Kait strives to combine her knowledge of traditional illustration, color theory, and 3D Modeling to cultivate creativity and originality. "I've found that teaching at Sarasota Clay Company has taught me so much more than just how to work with clay. Whether it's learning how to explain directions in various ways depending on student needs and growing as a teacher to learning how to take proper care of a studio space, Sarasota Clay Company opens my eyes every time I step through the door. I think this studio is a wonderful place to learn and grow because you are surrounded by so many talented artists and kind souls."

bottom of page