December 05, 2016


Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.

Clay Comes to Life on Broadway

Gallery Offers Creative Opportunities for All Ages.

“I really loved science.” 

That’s not the response I was expecting when I asked Jody Jaques, one of the four partners of Broadway Clay, to tell me how she got into art.  But then my visit to the pottery studio and gallery at the corner of Broadway and Lewis was full of surprises.  

“In science class you were supposed to have all the right answers.” Jaques needed something that incorporated her quirky personality and her creativity.

“I was interested in coming up with a creative answer instead of the right one.” That’s why she dropped calculus to take pottery. She remembers looking at the work being done around her in the class and thinking, “I’m the best person in here. What am I going to do with that?”

Years later, after twenty years as a K-12 art teacher, the pottery making, jewelry making, home-schooling mother of three has certainly found her answer. Watching her throw a pot on the wheel is poetry in motion. 

First, Jaques took a big ball of clay and repeatedly slammed it on a table to flatten it out. “Until you fire it you can keep recycling it. That means you can make as many mistakes as you want. You keep recycling until you get what you want.”

Watching her with the clay I blurted out, “What is that?” It suddenly occurred to me I’ve never known where clay comes from.

Broadway Clay partner Les Greeman, a Frankfort native, was there with the answer. “Clay is one part aluminum oxide, two parts silicon dioxide, and two parts water. When you fire it the water molecules get thrown away. The aluminum and silicon reconfigure their electrons to form the outer shell and become chemically inert.” 

As I looked at the dozens of cute little clay snow people – Frostys and Frostines - on a nearby table they seemed a world removed from such complex beginnings. I soon discovered that all of them had been made by customers and were awaiting pickup.

That’s one of the many experiences offered by the studio – the opportunity to make your own art!

The studio offers classes for children and adults. They do private lessons as well. They even do parties where a group can come in and have a pottery making experience. Or maybe you just want to come in and learn how to throw a pot. You need just call in and reserve a time. 

I asked if people ever come in to watch the potters work on the wheel. “People come in to watch all the time,” replied Jaques. “Especially Les. Les is the pottery guru.”

Jaques believes it is important to continue the tradition of knowing how things are made by hand. “We want to bring in the community to create with us, not only to make pottery, but also to learn how to appreciate it.”

Broadway Clay has been in business six and a half years. Jaques, a native of Bedford, Indiana joined as a partner about eighteen months ago. Bedford is the limestone capital of the world. “The Empire State Building was quarried there,” Jaques is quick to proudly add.

The other two partners are Audrey Hammond, also a Frankfort native, and Anne Elliott from Maryland.  Each of the partners has a style all his or her own and their beautiful work is available for sale in the front of the gallery. Prices range from $5 to $150.  

Customers can also request original creations on a commission basis.  “You say what you want and we’ll make it for you,” Jaques says.

“Only because the community supports us can this place survive. Not all communities have a pottery studio where you are invited to come and learn,” says Jaques. “Everything is local. Very local.”

The larger stores can produce pottery more cheaply because items are made from a mold and mass-produced.  But Broadway Clay is a unique place, just another one of the many things that make downtown Frankfort special. 

Leave a comment