by Gianina Lomedico
For those who want to explore their artistic side and make a masterpiece, the closest place where creative juices flow is called the Mud Shack. Located on Foothill Boulevard, the Mud Shack is an entertaining studio where people of all ages can let go and decorate ceramics.
The Mud Shack welcomes artists and non-artists and provides participants with everything they need. All one has to do is come and experience the coziness of the place. Friendly instructors help with each step.
As the customer enters the store, he or she picks the perfect working piece out of an assortment of ceramics that range from $8-$20. The ceramics vary from plates, bowls, mugs, teakettles, bears, angels and dogs. An instructor will show the customer to a wooden table that has a palette, sponge and bowl of water. Painting with the non-toxic clay takes about one to two hours and costs a $5 (studio charge) for each individual. Artists then leave their artwork with an instructor who glazes the ceramic. It is put in a kiln for eight to 11 hours. The masterpiece is then cooled and picked up by the artist three to four days later.
Sheri Salomone opened the store in November 1997 and explained how she got into the business. “I went to a similar store in Claremont. I negotiated buying it and fell in love with it immediately. I had a bunch of ideas to start a new design studio. I wanted it to look like a home.”
Salomone is originally from Simi Valley. She previously designed clothing and went to school in La Crescenta. Currently she is finishing her teaching credentials at the University of La Verne. She commented that she “fell in love with the people at ULV.” Salomone then realized she wanted to move and have her store in La Verne.
Salomone is very happy doing what she loves. She has started a teacher reference page that incorporates art into different subjects for students at www.mudshack.net. “I like teaching people art. You can touch people’s lives. We’ve had people in their 60s come in and cannot believe what they have made. That is definitely the reward.”
Katie Gruemmer, an employee at Mud Shack, has been working there for a year and a half.
“It’s fun working here. Sheri’s cool and you get to meet a lot of neat people. It is really flexible and laid back. Gruemmer then said, “Its relaxing to focus on your work. Even if you are not creative, there are stencils, stamps, and pictures to get ideas from.”
Mud Shack offers birthday parties, field trips and Boys and Girls Scout days. Private lessons are also held for students working on school projects. Numerous fundraisers and charities add to the list of events the shop hosts.
On one wooden table at the Mud Shack, a birthday party is going on for 5-year-old Kara New. The children are painting with paints that have creative names like Forrest Gump, Rosey Posey and Cracker Jack. “I’m having fun with my friends,” she said. Kara’s mother, Jennifer New, picked the Mud Shack for her birthday party.
“It is something to do that is educational and different. It is interactive for the children and close to home,” said New.
La Verne resident and Mud Shack customer Erin Leblanc came to pick up her ceramic, which she helped make for her 3-month-old son. Leblanc painted her son’s handprint. “The instructors gave us a lot of attention. I am looking forward to coming back when he gets older.”
Mud Shack is located at 2145 Foothill Blvd., Suite A. For more information, call (909) 392-4948.