A FAMILY OF ARTISTS
We invite you to visit our studio, nestled in the pristine forest along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, to find a family of artists creating high fire stoneware pottery.
Inspired by the beauty of their natural surroundings, the artists incorporate the cool blue of Lake Michigan’s waters, the rich brown of the forest floor, and the deep green of the leaves and pines. Look closely and you’ll notice textures from the bark patterns of the native tree species and the feathers of the birds that serenade you during your visit. Stroll around the grounds and appreciate the quiet beauty of western Michigan, and stop in the studio to select your own unique souvenir of this special place.
Laurie Pounder, Co-Founder & Co-Owner
Laurie has an art education degree from Calvin College and has always loved the interaction with customers and sharing her craft with them. Since establishing the current studio, she has found inspiration for her pots from the shorelines and dune forests of West Michigan.
ADAM MERTEN, co-owner
Adam has been with Claybanks Pottery since 1996, starting as a clay mixer and apprentice. Over the years he has learned the art of throwing and creative expression from Steve, Laurie, and host of other potters and artists in the community. He loves to try new things and turn artistic ideas into realities at the wheel, often while customers watch.
Claybanks Pottery was originally founded in 1977 by Steve and Laurie Pounder. Over the years, the business has grown and changed, as have our artists and their families!
Laurie Pounder, who’s been here from the very beginning, has enjoyed running the business and passing along her knowledge to the next generation of potters. She’s looking forward to slowly stepping away from ownership and management and spending more of her time creating beautiful pottery and working directly with our customers.
Steve Pounder is no longer actively associated with Claybanks, but we’re grateful to him for his lasting contributions to our business and knowledge of our craft.
Adam Merten, who joined us as an apprentice in 1996, is now a co-owner. His children have grown up in our studio and they help us out as valuable members of our summer staff.
get to know the entire
CLAYBANKS POTTERY STAFF
SPARKY, ernie, & arlo
official greeters and instant best pals
Our furry family members round out our team as the best greeters one could ever ask for. Golden Retrievers Sparky and Ernie are littermates, although their personalities are about as different as two dogs can be. Ernie with greet you exuberantly with a ball or frisbee in hand ready for you to engage in the longest game of fetch you are willing to play. Sparky is the happiest lounging on the deck in the biggest area of sunshine he can find and will flash you the winningest of smiles if you give him a few pets and belly rubs. Arlo is the fierce leader of the world, or so he thinks, and will follow you around the studio helping you pick out only the finest pottery! If your visit would be more pleasant without a furry guide or game of fetch, just let us know and we are always happy to send the dogs down for a nap in the basement while you visit.
Fourth generation management, Emily was born into the pottery world as her Dad Adam started at Claybanks Pottery the year she was born. She spends her summer as co-studio manager and lives in Ann Arbor during the school year as a student at U of M! Go Blue!
Alayna travels the furthest down over the bridge from Michigan Tech for her summer position as co-studio manager. From a young age she has always been the quiet brains behind the operation and maintains a clean, welcoming space for our visitors and artists.
Alma College is where Alex is pursuing a degree in science education while also tearing up the football field as a center lineman! He continues using his brains, brute force and artistic talent during the summer as our grounds supervisor, keeping the place looking fantastic!
Lauren joins us during the summer between sports camps, trainings, and tournaments. She is a 4 sport athlete at Shelby High School and her winning smile she makes her an excellent customer service executive.
Our youngest summer staffer, Liam, has been in the pottery business from a very young age, selling his wares at a local music festival each year. He dips his toe into the working world the same summer that he will be entering the high school marching band as a freshman at Montague High School.
Alyssa has been associated with Claybanks Pottery for most of her life, her longest running and current role as marketing manager and chaos coordinator of the Merten household. Adam’s wife, and mom to most of our summer staff, enjoys helping with all aspects of the business that do not involve anything to do with clay. Her artistic contributions are best suited to photographing pottery and managing social media and marketing and occasionally filling in as a sales associate.