Keeping His Hands in The Clay

By Isobel Steenrod

Greg Marshall has been the pottery teacher in the Arts & Crafts Studio for 20 years. He runs the ceramics studio in the basement of Worner Campus Center and teaches beginners how to throw mugs and bowls on the wheel. Before college, Marshall had no artistic background, but took Ceramics I to fill up his schedule and has loved pottery ever since. He changed his major to secondary art education and graduated from Adams State University in 1976.

Marshall’s first teaching experience involved working with 30 10th graders for five classes a day, while also coaching wrestling at the high school.

 “I hated it,” said Marshall. “They had the wrong attitude.” He had students who were destructive just for the sake of being destructive — they threw tacks into the bucket of recycled clay, or destroyed other students’ work. The school counselor had apparently told kids to “take art — you won’t have to do anything.” 

Marshall quit teaching shortly after and opened a pottery business with a friend from college. He moved to Manitou Springs a year later and joined a pottery co-op with 20 ceramicists. It was an affordable way to do pottery without investing thousands of dollars in a kiln, wheel, and other equipment.

At first, Marshall didn’t have enough outlets to sell pottery full time, so he picked up a job as the night Zamboni driver at the Colorado Springs Ice Rink, which he loved. As Marshall’s pottery business grew, even two high school hockey games a week was too much commitment, so he committed entirely to pottery. 

“They loved me there,” Marshall said. “I was sorry to quit.” 

After the pottery co-op in Manitou Springs folded, Marshall opened a new studio with a friend. They worked together for a few years, but Marshall wanted his own place to do retail sales. He found a storefront in Manitou Springs and built a kiln in the back. He only placed a countertop between the studio and the storefront, so he could work and meet customers at the same time. He loved the craft, but staying on the clock seven days a week took a toll, even with his mom helping out on Sundays. The rent kept going up, and eventually Marshall reached what he felt like was maximum production. As a result, it didn’t make sense to keep the studio open and lose money every year.

One day, while hanging posters for the Clayfest Pottery Competition, he met the woman who worked in the pottery studio at Colorado College and found out she was moving across the country, leaving the teaching position open. 

Marshall applied in 2000. During his job interview “I had as many questions for them as they had for me,” said Marshall.

For Marshall, CC provides an “ideal teaching situation.” Being around college-aged kids “keeps [him] feeling young,” he said. 

“I don’t think I’ll really retire from doing pottery,” Marshall said, although he does plan on eventually retiring from CC to travel to Mexico with his girlfriend. Now, they rent out their home in Colorado Springs through Airbnb and travel to Mexico during breaks. 

“I certainly never got rich being a potter,” Marshall said. “But it was satisfying to be just doing my own work, using my hands.”

Photo by Ale Tejeda
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