RICH MUDGE AND JOANNE HORTON
Rich Mudge and Joanne Horton Began Creative Fire as an open to the public clay studio in Calabasas, California in 1998. 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.
Over the years, besides offering high quality enrichment programs, our studio has branched out into many exciting fields. Rich has held a faculty position at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in the Visual Arts Department since 2007, and Joanne has worked as an Art Specialist at Point Dume Marine Science School in Malibu. We have also worked assisting fine artists make the leap into clay in the fabrication of ceramic sculpture, and the restoration of vintage tile in historic buildings such as Union Station and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.
Both Rich Mudge and Joanne Horton have been in shows in galleries in Los Angeles, and have had their work published in Ceramics Art and Perception and Rich's work has been published in the book "Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty". In 2018, Creative Fire produced an edition of platters in conjunction with the artist Barbara Kruger and LACE Gallery, to commemorate the gallery's 40th anniversary.
In this class children will make original projects from fresh clay. Techniques such as coiling, slab building, and pinching will be explored. Once painted & fired, your artwork will spring to life from our kiln and into your home. Whether it’s real working clocks, dinner plates, lidded containers, or a creation of their imagination, anything goes in is this skills based, creative environment. New projects are made every session.
In this unique class, children will learn the skills to construct their very own water fountain from fresh clay. Students will discover the dynamics of how water flows by building a pump housing, and by controlling the way in which water cycles through the fountain. With this foundation, the sky is the limit when it comes to their creative ideas. Examples of finished work will be on display as visual aids, and each student will receive a water pump as part of the class.
In this class students will learn how to make their very own ceramic drum. The area of study will focus on percussion as it is expressed throughout the world. Techniques such as coiling, pinching, and slab decorating will be incorporated as well as painting and glazing. New music will be introduced on a weekly basis. This class is DRUM TIGHT! Drum skin included.
SKATE BOARD DECK DESIGN:
This school year we are pulling out all of our resources to make this project cool, creative, and hip. In this special class children will develop graphics for a 33.5” skateboard deck from scratch! Graphic design, sanding, painting, and creative grip tape application will be covered. The board design is good for speed and deep carving, pool riding, and street tricks. If skateboarding is your means of expression, then this class will take your skating to the next level!
SKIM BOARD DESIGN:
SUMMER WILL BE HERE SOON, and this spring we are pulling out all of our resources to make this project cool, creative, and hip. In this special class children will create custom graphics and paint their very own SKIM BOARD from scratch! Graphic design, sanding, painting, and surf wax application will be covered. The board design measures 15.5 inches wide by 35.5 inches long and is good for skimming and carving up the waves! The wood of choice is Indonesian luan, excellent for durability, flexibility, safety and fun. Don’t miss out on this one!
CHESS SET DESIGN:
In this class children will learn how to make their very own chess set from clay. Why must chess be always Red against Black. How about Yellow vs. Purple, or Sponge Bob vs. Super Mario Bros.? Coming up with your own original designs to represent Pawns, Kings, Knights, and Queens will make playing chess a hit among your family and friends. We will cover all of the skills needed to fabricate all of the pieces as well as show kids how to make their own ceramic tiled playing board!
In this class children learn basic concepts of furniture design and tile mosaic. From the start they will sand and stain their wood choosing from a variety of colors. As the class progresses students will be encouraged to create original drawings for both custom made tile and tile layout. It gets even better when they get to break the tile they made and stick it onto the table surface. The class ends with them grouting their tile and taking their complete nightstand home!
in this class children will design and create their very own working table lamp from fresh clay. Techniques such as coiling, pinching, and slab construction will be incorporated as well as various methods of sculptural embellishment. Once painted and glazed their piece will bring light to any room.......literally! Hardware and material included, lamp-shade is not.
There is no greater satisfaction than the pride in creating artwork of one's own design from a lump of clay to a finished piece.
In class, we go over safety, how to use professional ceramic tools, and safety again. Discipline is maintained. The children learn to follow directions and are guided to think for themselves.
There is a pride and sense of accomplishment when making something with your own hands and watching it progress, as it is meticulously crafted. Kids are no different. Building something for themselves or as a gift for another is something they will gladly take time to do.
Apart from all the learning during Ceramics class such as, helping with development of small motor skills, hand eye co-ordination, design skills, and painting, Ceramics is a whole lot of fun! Exercising both mind and body, participants will learn by doing and take away important skills that become life long tools.
This program is of high educational and recreational value. Many parents and principals are appreciative of having this as an option and have thanked us for the effort we have made in bringing this to the community.
Pay Materials fees due to the instructor for Ceramics classes with the CREST Program here. Materials fee helps to cover the costs of clay, glazes, and the firing of projects.
If you have questions about the opportunities available to you in our programs, feel free to send us a message. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
11061 Swinton Ave, Granada Hills, CA 91344, US
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday: Closed