By BRADEN LAMMERS
It is a business borne of a shared interest between friends and a desire to be a catalyst for an arts district in downtown Jeffersonville.
And it kicks off in conjunction with another downtown event.
Silica Ceramic Studio will open its doors on Friday, the same day Jeffersonville Main Street, Inc., and businesses host Hops, Shops & Chardonnay, a beer and wine-tasting event aimed at putting the spotlight on the historic district.
Jennie DiBeneditto, along with Dawn Spyker, an art teacher at River Valley Middle School, decided to open Silica after meeting while studying ceramic arts at the University of Louisville.
“We both love teaching, this is a way for people on their free time, that want to learn more, to come in and have a really unique welcoming experience,” said DiBeneditto, co-owner of Silica.
DiBeneditto, a graphic artist by trade, was working toward her bachelor’s degree of fine arts in ceramics and Spyker was working on her master’s of art in ceramics. Together they hatched the idea to inspire the desire to create art in Jeffersonville.
“We just had more and more people saying they want more art in Jeffersonville, they want to be more involved and they want an educational art experience,” DiBeneditto said. “They wanted to have an opportunity to learn more. That’s really what brought this idea about, having something fun to do. You can just come in and pick a piece of pottery to decorate, but we can also teach you about it.”
Silica allows people with little to vast art experience to come in and create their own pottery. Beyond paint-your-own ceramics, there will be availability to create art with metal clay and enameling — a process that essentially fuses glass onto metal, DiBeneditto said.
“Enameling and metal clay are things that aren’t really available in this area,” she said.
And the hope is that the studio will be a place that people want to come and hang out, as well as reimmerse themselves in art.
“We hope to bring in people that haven’t had an art experience in a long time,” DiBeneditto said. “That usually applies to adults. The adults that need a creative outlet and haven’t found one or don’t have the space at home to do something like this — just really broaden horizons and teach new things.”
She added the studio may add classes geared specifically to kids, but it will likely be in the spring and summer when they’re out of school.
The pair is not just presenting manufactured ceramics to paint. In opening a store where customers can make a handmade piece of art, the owners are taking the concept to heart by making most of the furniture in the shop, including the tables and shelves where the ceramics are displayed. Later in the year the plan is to offer some special items made by the owners, and possibly hosting some hand-building ceramics classes in the studio.
“I really think there’s a lot of potential [here],” DiBeneditto said. “We hope some folks from Louisville will be in here when the walking bridge opens,” she said, referring to the Big Four Bridge. “We’d love to see a whole art district here, have art galleries and artisan shops. We’re hoping we’ll be the starting point of that.”
Silica’s grand opening will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. The shop will celebrate with a ribbon cutting ceremony and $10 gift certificates for the first 50 customers. Silica Ceramic Studio will have special demonstrations and giveaways all weekend to celebrate the studio’s opening, according to a news release from the store.
The event will coordinate with downtown Jeffersonville’s Hops, Shops & Chardonnay featuring local beer, wine, music and art.