(credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Ceramics, after cave painting, is perhaps the oldest art known to humankind. Professionals and hobbyists alike find in clay a deep satisfaction that is difficult to describe but unmistakable. Most of us remember playing in the mud as children, and how much fun it was. Ceramics is how adults can play in the mud and enthusiasts report that there is nothing quite like it. And although the basics are easy to learn, mastery can take a lifetime. The classes listed below could be a good place to start a journey that may surprise you.

Wilson Park Studio (City of Cupertino)
10298 S. Portal Ave.
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 777-3120

The ceramics classes at Wilson Park Studio are offered through the city’s recreational program by Trudi of Slab Happy Ceramics, a professional ceramics gallery in Cupertino. Classes are offered several times a week. One of the more unusual offerings is an adult + toddlers class that meets on weekday mornings, ideal for busy young mothers who need a creative break. The studio at Wilson Park is well equipped, and there are classes appropriate for all levels, from beginner to professional.

Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education
333 Moffett Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 940-1333

Mountain View/Los Altos Adult Education offers intermediate and advanced classes in ceramics, including sculpting in clay. Some classes are taught by extremely active Bay Area arts instructor Susan Clare Worley, who holds a Fine Arts degree specializing in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin. Additional classes are taught by James Levett, who is the coordinator of the arts program at Mountain View High School and also has skills in a full range of artistic practices including painting and sculpture as well as ceramics.

Palo Alto Art Center
1313 Newell Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 329-2366

The city of Palo Alto has an extremely active Art Center. It offers an impressive assortment of classes, workshops and drop-in seminars. Along with ceramics, students can study drawing and painting, the creation of graphic novels and jewelry making. Pottery instructor Brent Johnson is a graduate of the renowned South Bear School and has been making ceramics since the 1970s. Serious students will welcome the opportunity to work with someone in the lineage of this important school.

Sunnyvale Community Center
550 E. Remington Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 730-7758

The Pottery Studio at Sunnyvale Community Center is an amazing community resource. It has no fewer than 18 electronic wheels, a kick wheel, multiple kilns and other necessary equipment. These resources are offered to the community as an Open Studio for a nominal fee with unlimited use during studio hours. There are instructors available at all times to assist. In addition, the Center offers a variety of ceramics classes from beginner all the way up to advanced.

Berkeley Art Studio
University of California
Cesar Chavez Student Center
Lower Sproul Plaza
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-6161

No listing of Bay Area ceramics classes would be complete without mentioning The Berkeley Art Studio of the University of California, where classes are open to the entire community. A full range of ceramics courses is available, from beginning to advanced. The very accessible studio resources include everything needed for the beginner or professional. Students report a strong sense of community which is deeply valued. The school also offers courses in digital art, drawing, painting and photography.

Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at Examiner.com.