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Intro to pottery classes are taught with a group of people. One-on-one time with the instructor follows group guidance and demonstration. While making beautiful pottery is commendable, the main goal is to have fun without the pressure to perform. / Image: Phil Armstrong, Cincinnati Refined // Published: 3.13.18

Queen City Clay Is Everything You Love About Art Without The Pretension

You may not realize it, but Queen City Clay, a 24,000-square-foot Hyde Park art studio, has a 22-year history of contributing to Cincinnati's arts scene.

In 1996, Annie Swantko was in rehab after a car accident and discovered pottery. Soon thereafter, her passion for the hobby fueled her desire to begin teaching others how to do it too.

She rented a portion of a building in Hyde Park and slowly, by herself, built a pottery studio. When asked how she built it all from the ground up without a background in pottery, Ben Clark, current president of Queen City Clay, described Annie fondly.

"She is just one of those so-driven people who will find someone to teach her, do it herself, and put in the time."


When Ben, who went to grad school for pottery, moved to Cincinnati in 2003, he wanted to find an art studio and stumbled upon Annie's while browsing the phone book.

"I walked in here, and I just lost it. I'd never seen anything this big in my life that had to do with clay," he said.

After begging her for a position and eventually getting a job as an instructor at her studio, he ultimately became the Education Director when Annie sold it in 2005 to one of Ben's students.

With his new position, he began tweaking the formula of the studio to give it more of a "big family feel" as well as expanding the number of classes the business offered. But Ben's role didn't stop there.

In 2016, Ben received the chance to purchase the business. He rebranded it Queen City Clay.


Queen City Clay is an open, inviting environment where artists of various skill levels work side by side to help each other achieve new levels of productivity and greatness.

38 rentable studios provide artists with shelves, a table, and a pottery wheel to create. Additionally, classes are regularly taught for those who've never thrown on a wheel before and want to learn. With 42 people on staff, the majority of whom teach, Queen City Clay is an incredible hub of technical knowledge even beyond inspiration.

Not only is it a place where folks can take courses and rent space, but professionals and semi-professionals with full-time studio spaces also call QCC home. Businesses such as SKT Ceramics and Polly Magazine, the latter of which just uses a space to be surrounded by artists, produce their work at the studio in dedicated areas.

A retail shop in the front of the building sells glazes and various other related wares, and a gallery space where resident artists' work is displayed links the front of the shop to the workspaces in the rear.

If you've ever considered getting into pottery, you owe it to yourself to pay Queen City Clay a visit. If you've never considered getting into pottery, consider visiting it regardless.

Like Annie, who started the studio over 20 years ago, you never know if pottery will change your life if you've never tried it.

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For more information about QCC, visit its website.