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He said the hardest part was navigating the maze of city regulations and bylaws, which caused delays and money lost. Berg said he reached out to Coun. Hilary Gough for help and she was able to smooth things out and get Berg — and the studio — back on track.
“She saved the project,” he said. “I told her I had about three months until I ran out of money … It was scary.”
Saskatoon Clayworks officially opened in February 2019 and things have been busy ever since.
“The demand caught me off guard. I was anticipating about 500 students and I got about 700,” he said.
Students take classes in wheel-thrown pottery, hand-built pottery and stained glass creation. Those who want to be members can pay $425 annually, plus eight hours of volunteering time within the studio, to have access to a private members’ space to create whenever inspiration strikes.
Berg hopes members will want to take over the studio when he is ready to retire, which would keep a much-needed studio space open to future potters.
He says the main goal of his studio is to create a welcoming environment where people can learn and expand their pottery skills at their own pace without feeling that their work isn’t good enough.
“That’s the nice thing about the intro to clay class,” he says. “It’s a combination of wheel-throwing and hand building … Everyone starts at the same level. It can be kind of intimidating to walk into a full-on pottery class with people who are extremely gifted — so we are trying to even that out.”