Somerset County ‘Mud Ladies’ Bring Out the Beauty of Clay

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The “mud ladies” strive to create unique creations to fill kitchen and dining room cupboards in homes across the region.

The group of six local artists, retirees and working educators, make their hundreds of handcrafted bowls. This is partly to raise funds for various community groups and partly to satisfy their love of working with clay.

Anyone wishing to donate $ 20 can take home a bowl of their choice wrapped for them at the event, then enjoy a sundae, an Eat’n Park cookie, and sip a drink while listening to a free concert performed. by jazz and classical group Jenny Wilson Trio from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dressler Art Center, 214 Harrison Ave., Somerset Borough.

Following:Music on the lawn

Peggy Black, a member of the Wilson Gallery and Phillip Dressler Center For the Arts gallery, will be exhibiting her work at the event and will run until September 2.

Bowls made by local artists are a reminder that “food nourishes the body and art nourishes the soul,” four of the “mud ladies” said in an interview with Daily American about their trip together.

The group’s latest initiative, the Scoop’er Bowl, benefits the Laurel Arts Clay Studio (by paying for supplies), the Humane Society of Somerset County and the Somerset Mobile Food Bank.

The “Mud Ladies,” also known as artists from Laurel Arts Clay Studio, value artistic endeavors, community support, and educating the public on working with their materials: clay, glazes and a very hot oven – sometimes over 2,000 degrees.

Why clay?

Kathy Trexel Reed noted that people tend to have a different style of working with clay.

“We make them with our fingers and our hands so that we have a personal touch with the material and it has our mark in one way or another,” she said.

Bridget Mayak, the mother of a mother-daughter team in the group, said she works with clay every day.

“I love the idea that we are working with something that has been in the ground for millions of years that is functional, beautiful and unique. I also love the idea of ​​working with the ‘mud ladies’, they’re kind of my tribe … Pottery is like the heartbeat to me. “

Her daughter, Erin Mayak, added that she and her mother often collaborate. Mom’s specialty is tossing the form, while Erin paints the designs on the forms.

“I’m mostly inspired by the shape of the bowl to create the design. Sometimes I like to sculpt on the underglaze and sometimes I like to paint the underglaze – almost like I’m painting on canvas,” Erin said. Mayak.

According to Susan Wilson, the reward is working with like-minded women who bring positivity to the table.

“I like the direction we take after creating. So we put all of our effort into what we do and then it goes for the good and it gives back,” Wilson said.

Artist Joy Knepp and Jane Holt, who round out the band members, were not available for the interview.

Following:‘Soup’er Bowl’ is this Saturday in Somerset

Four years ago, the group decided to use their art, especially pottery, for community fundraisers, modeled on the dinners in empty bowls that had been around since the 1980s, a simple meal for feed the hungry, said Bridget Mayak.

“We were able to really take something that we love to do and reach out to the community and make a difference,” she said.

In the first year, the group created 125 bowls and secured donations of soup and paper products. Last year the number of bowls more than doubled, but the pandemic has altered the delivery normally made at a public gathering. The group’s goal has not changed.

“We just hope to raise awareness of what we do and the causes we support,” said Erin Mayak.

As for women, they feed on muddy fingers and laughter,

“It’s motivating and it keeps you going and we have such great feedback from the community,” Wilson said.

Following:Grants to pay for environmental works, the arts and more in Somerset County

Follow Judy DJ Ellich on Twitter at @dajudye.


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