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Denton resident shares passion for pottery through Lalabee Ceramics

Denton resident shares passion for pottery through Lalabee Ceramics

Denton resident shares passion for pottery through Lalabee Ceramics
August 05
12:00 2022

From painting to drawing, 22-year-old Casie Cheek has always been an arts-driven person. However, pottery and ceramic work are where the artist found her true passion.

“When I was between 17 and 18, I decided that this is something that I’d like to do hardcore,” Cheek said. “I have come [to ceramics class] every single week since I was 15.” 

Cheek began selling her ceramics to friends and family. She specializes in mugs but can create other pieces like plates, plant pots and vases. She started her business, Lalabee Ceramics, in 2018 to help fund her own hobby of ceramics and attend classes at Miriam Studios.

In addition to posting on social media, Cheek has grown her business by getting involved with local vendors.

“Casie has been very awesome about everything, including building her following and sharing her passion,” Cheek’s friend Kingsley Cochran, 35, said. “It has been truly inspiring. I hope to eventually get to where she is on social media.”

Her passion for ceramics began when she started attending class with her sister at Miriam Studios.

“Casie did more than just summer camp when she began – she started coming during the school year on Saturdays for classes,” Miriam Mitchell, Miriam Studio owner and Cheek’s teacher, said. 

Cheek took classes until middle school, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year of high school that she began to seriously pursue art and classes at the studio. For the past seven years, she has attended ceramics class and kept up with it every week.

Cheek has encountered her fair share of health-related obstacles on her artistic journey. Cheek said pursuing pottery has been hard due to her costochondritis, a condition that inflames the cartilage that connects her rib and sternum. Cheek said the condition causes heart attack-like pain and especially affects her when using methods that require upper body strength, like throwing – a technique used to shape ceramics.

Cheek was also forced to take a year-long break due to COVID-19 because she could not go back to the studio. Additionally, Cheek has faced issues similar to what other vendors across Denton have struggled with materials shortage. Cheek said it is extremely hard to find things that go into making a glaze, like cobalt. She said other material prices have also increased, thanks to scarce availability. 

“Even clay is hard to find now, it is crazy right now,” Cheek said. 

She has also had issues with price points in the vendor scene. A mug usually takes three weeks to make. Cheek detailed it is a long process as it has to be trimmed, thrown, then trimmed again before it is glazed. After that, the mug must cook in the kiln. This process takes between two to three days. 

Due to the time-consuming process and inflated material prices, a mug usually runs between $40 to $45.

“People get scared by the prices and I don’t know how I could make it cheaper, as I cannot due to materials,” Cheek said. “It’s hard to do and it’s hard to compete.” 

However, these issues did not stop her from continuing to create ceramics. Even through the adversities she faced while starting Lalabee Ceramics, Cheek said she continues her hobby because she truly enjoys and loves making art. 

“I enjoy the fluidity of ceramics,” Cheek said. “You need to understand that nothing will be completely the same as the last one. One will be bigger or longer, or it will dry differently. I like that it is organic and fun to look at.”

Cheek hopes to bring more diversity into the Denton art scene.

 “I feel like nobody really does ceramics,” said Cheek. “We don’t have a clay guild in Denton […] that is for everyone to join.”

Cheek said she believes ceramics is growing in the heart of Denton. She said it is up and coming and expects to see more ceramic art soon.

“Ceramics is so much fun,” Cheek said. “The most fun thing is making all the plates, all the mugs, all the pots. I made everything for my house. It’s fun making something that is functional and you use every day and you think ‘I made this.’”

Casie Cheek begins to shape clay on July 25, 2022. Kristian FreemanCasie Cheek begins work on a vase on July 25, 2022. Kristian FreemanFinished pieces sit on a studio table on July 25, 2022. Kristian FreemanCasie Cheek begins to shape clay into a vase on July 25, 2022. Kristian FreemanCasie Cheek works on the details of a vase on July 25, 2022. Kristian FreemanCasie Cheek shows off a finished product on July 25, 2022. Kristian Freeman
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Casie Cheek begins to shape clay into a vase on July 25, 2022. Kristian Freeman

Casie Cheek poses while making a vase on July 25, 2022. Photo by Kristian Freeman

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Norishka Pachot

Norishka Pachot

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