Throwing clay with Susan McDade at Tryon Arts and Crafts School 

Published 12:25 pm Friday, January 6, 2023

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TRYON – Tryon Arts and Crafts School is made up of magnificent studio classrooms hosting a variety of courses and workshops. One of the most popular courses is the pottery class led by Susan McDade.

When visiting the school, you might run into Susan, a clay studio instructor, either dropping off clay or mixing various glazes for the students in her next class, Intermediate Wheel: Sets and Altered Forms, which begins this month and still has spots available. McDade describes the upcoming course as exploring different forms, creating sets, learning to alter clay, and expanding on traditional forms. 

McDade, who fell in love with ceramics as a senior in high school in West Virginia, taught courses for many years before taking a two-decade hiatus. After returning to teaching in 2020 in King’s Mountain, she took another break during the pandemic. But soon after moving to Tryon, that changed, and she began teaching again at Tryon Arts and Crafts School. McDade now leads the intermediate and advanced pottery classes. 

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The pottery studio is well-equipped, featuring electric throwing wheels and a glazing area with a variety of colorful glazes. The shelves are full of pieces waiting to go in the kiln. Recently, another kiln was added to the school’s shed.

Susan compares filling the kilns to putting together a puzzle, due to each piece’s different shapes and sizes. 

“Our Clay Committee meets once a quarter, and over time, we’ve continually worked to improve the pottery studio, such as new chairs and redoing the glazing area,” McDade explains. “ We also put on a pottery sale once a year, which has been a lot of fun.

“My husband and I love it here, and Tryon Arts and Crafts School is one of the main reasons. Everyone here knows and helps each other, there’s such a sense of camaraderie, and we’ve built great friendships. And you don’t have to be an artist to be a part of it.”

Intermediate Wheel: Sets and Altered Forms are held Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on Tryon Arts and Crafts School, visit their website at

Clay Studio Instructor Susan McDade teaches Intermediate Wheel: Sets and Altered Forms on Thursdays at Tryon Arts and Crafts School.