Creating without Expectations

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver

Growing up in an artistic household, early childhood educator and ceramicist Ashley Garbin was constantly encouraged to explore new outlets. So, after being hired to work for JCC Denver’s Early Learning School in 2014, Ashley decided to try her hand at JCC’s ceramics classes, one of the many programs offered here.

“I was just terrible at it,” she recalls of her first year. “Yet, there was something meditative about having my hands in clay, so I kept signing up for classes and over time slowly began improving and building my skills.”

Ashley describes herself as a very tactile person.

“Half of it— for me— is the process of making it. We live in such a busy world bombarded with information all the time. When I’m doing pottery, it’s one of the few moments in life when I don’t think about anything else, and everything is just peacefully quiet, and my mind is truly still.”

ceramics artNestled in JCC Denver’s shady Backyard, the ceramics studio is fully equipped with throwing wheels, a bisque oven and kiln, trimming tools, workspaces, and a shed for clay supplies. Pastel walls and shelves holding colorful glazes share the space with big plants, chunky pots, and artsy pictures.

“I love the people in the ceramics program at the JCC; it’s such a unique place because you get so many people from many walks of life and ages who over time you get to develop relationships with.”

Ashley credits her ceramics adeptness to studio manager Ari Shahbazi, who is not only creative, accessible, and talented, but an incredible teacher who pushes you to believe in yourself.

For those thinking to give ceramics a shot, Ashley advises, “all good things take time; give yourself grace and space to make mistakes while celebrating small achievements.” She likens the learning curve to that of playing an instrument.

“Ceramics is also good for practicing nonattachment,” due to the finnicky nature of working with clay. “It’s about creating something and knowing that your final piece may not be anything like you imagined but that doesn’t mean it’s not spectacular and full of love.”


From her own experiences, Ashley believes that “with pottery, it’s such an accessible art form and truly a beautiful creative outlet; everyone CAN be a potter.”

This past November, Ashley sold some of her pieces for the first time at JCC Denver’s Annual Ceramics Sale and plans to continue funding her hobby in JCC’s next sale this coming fall. “I throw and sell because it’s so beautiful to think someone owns and loves something you created. Your pieces live on in the world and have their own story to tell.”

Check our website for the most up-to-date information on ceramics classes. Unleash your creativity with our artistic offerings this summer!