In late 2004 Laurie K. decided that the corporate life was no longer where she wanted to be. After more than a decade as a local integrated security company administrator outside of Washington, D.C. she decided she wanted to spend more time with her two teenage boys and get back to what she liked doing best, arts and crafts. She created a business plan and decided that a “paint your own pottery” studio would be where she could merge her love of arts and crafts with her desire to encourage others to be creative.
May 2005 FireWorks Art Cafe LLC was opened in Damascus, Maryland. The new art studio offered this small, rural community a place to gather, spend time with their families and offered creative options beyond pottery painting. Glass fusing, wet clay and beading were available along with instructions, encouragement and a great social atmosphere. The community’s children attended kid’s night outs, sleep overs and movie nights while the adults enjoyed evenings of wine and painting, glass fusing and beading.
In 2011 Laurie decided that her children were grown and it was time to move to a warmer climate. So, she packed up the studio and her home and headed to the beaches of Florida. It was also a good time to change the name to something a little shorter and that would better reflect the business model. Originally the name “Crazy Clay” was selected until a close family friend said to merge the words to ClayZ. Gone were those calls for fireworks near the 4th of July and customers expecting food (trust me, you don’t want any of Laurie’s food — she’s only qualified to cook at temperatures closer to 2000 degrees and don’t listen to any stories otherwise).
ClayZ Arts opened at The Avenues of Viera originally and while business was good, the studio was small and limited class sizes and offerings. In November 2012 a second studio was opened at Merritt Square Mall that housed nearly 2,500 square feet of creative space. With an open walk-in area, a separate party/classroom area, wet clay work space and back room, it was perfect and we spent four and a half years in this space. November 2016 ClayZ made it’s latest move to Rockledge after Hurricane Matthew, and is now has a beautiful, windowed 1860 SF at 634 Barnes Blvd.
Today, you can still find Laurie at the studio most days (it’s her favorite place to be). The new studio offers pottery, glass and canvas painting, and wet clay. Don’t be surprised if you see classes for crocheting, decoupage, mixed media or beading though — if you can craft it, Laurie probably is trying it at the studio.
ClayZ is a Brevard County Public Schools Business Partner, a member of the Student Advisory Council at McNair Middle School (STEAM Grant) and Laurie donates her time and talents as requested. It’s not odd to find her or the ClayZ staff (also known as “Mud Slinging Pyromaniacs”) teaching off-site events at preschools or with Brevard County Parks and Recreation camps, or in the back of the studio teaching Home School or Kid’s Club Fridays. As a big kid herself, she loves hanging out and talking to the younger customers and can help the oldest customers create something to be proud of.
Visit the studio and let the ClayZ staff inspire you to be creative!