Carbondale Clay Center Pairings event brings in ‘the kickoff to summer’ |

Carbondale Clay Center Pairings event brings in ‘the kickoff to summer’

Local businesses and ceramic artists team up to craft unique vessels and beverages for attendees

2021 poster for the Pairings event at the Carbondale Clay Center

There’s something special about working with clay, ceramic artist Lisa Ellena said.

Making mugs and other items people can interact with is special to her because of the connection they’ll have with the piece of art— it will nourish them when they drink or eat and will be incorporated as a part of their daily routine.

“I feel like cups and mugs, they are special in that way. But in terms of functional pottery I love making all kinds of forms. Bowls and plates, vases and pitchers and everything,” Ellena said.

Ellena first came to Carbondale in 2010 as the resident artist at the Clay Center but has continued her life here since then. The annual Clay Pairings event that opens up space for ceramic artists and local beverage crafters to share the work in tandem is one she’s grown quite fond of.

“It’s such a fun intersection of two different areas that really mesh well together. I think it’s such a fun idea to bring people from different parts of the community together and celebrate what they do, and how they can work together. It’s a really fun collaboration,” Ellena said.

Ceramic artist Lisa Ellena decorating a mug by inlaying the underglaze into the leather-hard clay surface.

Since the Clay Center can’t have a huge crowd on-site like they’ve done in the past, marketing and communications manager Savanna LaBauve said the center is creating an online shop to feature the artist submissions in addition to their gallery exhibit and the in-person event they’ll have as a gallery reception on May 22.

“I do really love being able to purchase something and immediately use it. However, this year … we’re sending the people who purchase things to redeem the ticket at the actual beverage location, their establishment. And part of that hope is to encourage these people to spend some time at these local places and support them, and while you’re there purchase more drinks and more food. Kind of just share the wealth,” LaBauve said.

Pairings tickets are good until Sept. 1 and will be redeemable at Batch Provisions, Bonfire Coffee, Carbondale Beer Works, Marble Distillery and Peppino’s Pizza.

“(It’s) always nice to have this big group show of 30-plus artists. It kind of shows a wide breadth of what you can do with clay in a functional sense. And I think it broadens you know, the public’s eye to what you can do as well as our students,” LaBauve said.

Aly Sanguily, owner of Batch Provisions, said she loves participating in the event and admires the Clay Center for pulling it off this spring despite COVID-19.

Ceramic cat mug by clay artist Laura Casas.

“In these times where we’ve sort of been sheltering ourselves, I think people are finally starting to feel more comfortable, and this is kind of like the kickoff to summer. … I feel like once Pairings happens, it’s like ‘okay it’s summertime.’ … I just look forward to seeing everybody come out and being able to support not only the Clay Center but all the bars and restaurants that have just been suffering so much. Kind of like a come out of the darkness time,” Sanguily said.

The soft opening of the exhibit will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 7. Regular exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. The in-person reception will be outdoors at the center from 5-8 p.m. on May 22.

If you go…

An example of clay mugs made by artist Brent Pafford that will be in the Pairings exhibition.

-Visit the online shop here

-Soft opening for First Friday celebration

-Exhibit open May 7-29

-For more information about the Clay Center go to their website here.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or


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