Vessel Gallery and Clay Studio

by Robin Milligan

Robin MilliganLike many of us, Angela Drew played in her childhood backyard and made mud pies. She says that working in clay is like playing in the mud and allows her to “get away and free her mind.” She loves clay, working with children, and being able to make things that people can enjoy and use. Watching her interact with a class full of children, I knew Vessel was a place my kids would love to go, day after day.

Angela had a dream to open her own ceramic studio since 2015, while getting her Fine Arts Degree in Ceramics with a minor in Child Development. She worked in daycare to put herself through college. She also worked in other ceramic studios including Clay on First in L.A. where she taught classes for adults and children. She also managed Open Arts Studio in Tacoma before moving to Spokane.

When Angela moved across the state, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. Last year, she was having trouble finding a place in Spokane that felt right. When she found her current location in Newport, WA, it was the perfect space to rent for her studio and it also had a large gallery space! She created the Vessel Gallery with the hope to support as many local artists as possible.

“Starting a business in Newport has been interesting. It’s a small town with its own rhythm,” Angela says. “The challenge has been not being from here and getting used to the town and figuring out what the people who live there want. When I first opened, I was open on Sundays. People don’t come out on Sundays here, so I had to adjust the hours to the town.”

Vessel Gallery

Vessel Gallery

“The people of Newport have welcomed me with open arms,” Angela said. “I’ve found more than just a place to do business; I’ve discovered a community that exudes warmth and a sincere desire for success. It has been a joy getting to know each of my new students and talking with customers who come in to check out the gallery. I love that we can all bond over our mutual love for the arts and am happy to call this sweet town my new home.”

There are many talented, local artists who display and sell their artwork in the Vessel gallery. The turnout at this location for openings and gatherings never disappoints. At their very first opening, there was a mass of people who attended, both from Newport and those who came up from Spokane and surrounding areas. The atmosphere is always full of artistic information and conversations with fascinating people.

The diversity of art types displayed in Vessel makes it a place that everyone can find something they love or that would be perfect for someone they want to impress. Angela likes to have both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art in all different mediums. Although, she says, functional items and jewelry sell the best, there are always new things to look at, and she rearranges the entire gallery every few months.

At Vessel, on any occasion, you can find art made of folded paper, paintings in watercolor, oil, and acrylic, pencil drawings, pen and ink drawings, photography, collage, glass, wood, metal, jewelry, mixed-media, and of course ceramics. You can find wooden bird houses, hand-turned bowls and wooden knives, hand-made wooden rolling pins, ceramic sculpture, vessels from three different potters, and her own beautiful, hand-made ceramic functional pieces.

Classes current offered at Vessel include;

– One-time “Clay Play Classes” which allow the students to play in clay on a wheel for two hours while learning how to make a hand-crafted mug.
– 3-4 week session classes where you will learn all the steps to ceramic creation, from hand building and wheel throwing to glazing and finishing your projects.
– Private couple’s classes include a sweet dessert and a shared wheel-throwing experience so they can work together to create something beautiful while making fun and messy memories.
– Winter and summer camps for kids. Camps include a week of classes that are four hours each, Monday-Friday, where children learn to hand craft ceramics. They also learn wheel throwing, glazing, and get to have a lot of fun!

Vessel also offers monthly memberships for individuals who already love ceramics to work on their independent studies and use the equipment, and even some materials. Every membership comes with a 25-pound bag of clay every month, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The gallery’s one-year anniversary celebration is coming up in April. There will be live music, refreshments, a Young Artist’s showcase (application available for artists age 5-18 years), and a chance to meet and mingle with the artists of Vessel. The celebration will be the weekend of Earth Day Art Walk in Newport, Friday April 19, 5-8 p.m.

Whether you live in Newport, need art for your home, want to learn to make a mug, or are just driving through, the Vessel Gallery is a miniature adventure worth stopping for.

Vessel Gallery and Clay Studio
331 South Washington Avenue
Newport, WA 99156
Open 11-4pm M-F
(509) 703-4886

Robin Milligan is an artist and entrepreneur living in Spokane, Wa. She curates art shows, runs an IT company, and teaches ceramics and painting from her home studio. When not working, Robin spends her time with her three children exploring nature, rockhounding, making art, and swimming.