Rich Mudge and Joanne Horton Began Creative Fire as an open to the public clay studio in Calabasas, California 12 years ago. The studio hosted both adult and children’s clay courses that included hand building and wheel throwing at all temperatures. The studio was unique in that they reinvented a traditional approach to ceramics that was hip, edgy, current, and dynamic. Other than the Color Me Mines, privately owned bisque ware painting shops, and community colleges, there wasn’t much the community offered as far as clay classes go. And even at that, many of the community colleges only offered high fire, with traditional cone10 glazes.

Joanne and Rich both graduated from the Otis College of Art and Design in the early nineties with BFA’s in ceramics, studying beneath world re-known and influential Professor, Ralph Bacerra. During Rich’s time at Otis, he also worked for Garth Clark, an internationally recognized specialist on American Ceramic Art History, at his gallery in Los Angeles. This experience proved to be influential, in that he had an opportunity to meet and interact with many influential ceramic artists such as John Mason, Beatrice Wood, Peter Shire, Mineo Mizuno, Adrian Saxe, and Cindy Kolodziejski. “It’s one thing to learn about art history in a slide lecture class, but to handle the actual work, and interact directly with the artists, is something that has influence even right now,” Rich says. In addition to working at Garth Clark Gallery, Rich would eventually become a studio assistant to Mineo Mizuno and Anna Silver.

After graduating from Otis, Joanne and Rich dove headlong into the ceramics industry, with Joanne working for a high end tile house called All Tiled Up, and with Rich working for an eclectic dinner ware manufacturer in Venice Beach called Luna Garcia. Joanne spent 3 years there learning how to china paint, rendering large scale murals, as well as recreating Art Deco tile motifs reminiscent of Malibu Tile. While there, Joanne honed her skills in an illustrative fashion, as well as developed her skill in glaze calculation. While at Luna Garcia, Rich learned the fundamentals and efficiency of handmade dinnerware.

In 1997 They began picking up teaching gigs at privately owned studios in Los Angeles, working with both children and adults. After a year of this, they were encouraged by clients to open their own studio, and within a few months Creative Fire was born, hosting a full adult children’s program, as well as, supplying local schools with after school clay classes. As recalled by Joanne: “When we first opened the studio, we wanted to create a space that equally catered to both children and adults, but not by traditional standards. The whole make something from stoneware and dip it in earthy glazes, we felt, was a bit dated. So we formulated our own glazes at both the high and low fire spectrums, and made them so that they would specifically interact with each other in ways that were experimental. We also wanted to move away from the traditionally dingy, dusty old clay studio. We felt that a clean studio would be a more efficient space for clients to make artwork in........and that was just the beginning.”

Because Joanne and Rich were extensions of the historical legacy of ceramics at Otis, they put their students in direct contact with figures of art history by conducting work shops and studio visits. “From the very beginning we wanted our studio to be more than just a place to spin pottery, but to reflect our backgrounds, our tastes in music, to mirror popular culture, and for the very sake of arts and education. We wanted to imbue our students with something that made them feel that they were part of something larger than just walking through the door,” says Rich.

In 2001, the complexion of many things changed with the event of 9/11. The economy staggered to a low point that eventually affected onsite enrollment, thus prompting Joanne and Rich to close the open to the public site. “We were a bit sad at this, but knew early on that transitioning from onsite operations, to supplying elementary schools with after school programs, would be a way to keep our studio going, as well as further our commitment to arts and education.” Since then we have developed the studio in a way meets these goals as well as allows us the freedom to be the kinds of artists we were trained to be.

Contact Us

Creative Fire
11061 Swinton Ave.
Granada Hills CA 91344

© 2010 Rich Mudge Contact Me