The future is bright for Lalese Stamps. Since the ceramist’s wildly successful 100 Day Project in 2019, in which she made 100 different coffee mugs over the course of 100 days, the Ohio native’s following on social media has skyrocketed. At this point it’s nearly impossible to score one of her Lolly Lolly Ceramics pieces during their sporadic drops on Madewell’s website.
The entrepreneur knew the time had come to move the business out of the basement of her home and into a proper workshop. After finding a location in downtown Columbus big enough to house both her equipment and an area to welcome in visitors, Stamps signed on and got to work planning. In an earlier life, the space was used to engineer fire trucks, before getting sliced and diced into smaller offices. But there was exposed wood and huge windows—Stamps had a vision for what to do with all the potential. She recruited a local builder who works in construction to help her install custom walls to afford the open floor plan some structure. “I make ceramics, so it gets kind of dirty,” says Stamps. “To run the business side, I need to not be in a clay-covered area constantly.” The duo cleared out the junk from a previous tenant and filled the void with equal parts practical supplies and pieces to turn the shop into a place worthy of hanging out in.
The game changer for creating a space that serves a dual purpose for creation and commerce? A statement-worthy divider. Here, Stamps takes us through a few key steps in the project.
The Work Comes First
“I’ve always had secondhand kilns, so having a big, shiny, new one is something I’m really proud of,” says Stamps. She split the wide-open area into two spaces—a ceramics shop and a studio—with the kiln surrounded by plants in the latter. Other than Stamps and her staff, the kiln is the hardest-working member of the team and holds a prominent spot just steps from the entrepreneur’s desk. (Her potter’s wheel is equally close to her on the other side.) “It’s a big piece of metal and brick. It’s beautiful. I like it because it’s why we’re here—to create things. I love hyping it and showing it off,” she says.
Invent New Rooms
The goal for the space’s arched dividing wall was to form a natural buffer for shoppers, keeping them inside the storefront and away from the studio, without cutting off their view of the craftsmanship in every product.
Once the lumber, siding, screws, and paint arrived, assembly began. The wall framework was erected perpendicular to the ceiling beams, followed by a layer of Sheetrock. Finally the three cutouts were removed with a jigsaw. When all was said and done, the materials ended up costing about $700 and the labor another $500. “Using the remainder of the budget, around $300, I was able to gift a set of bowls and plates to my friend to say thank you,” says Stamps.
Home Is Where You Hang Your Tupac Portrait
“I wanted enough spots for my two assistants and me to take a break and sit in cozy chairs and get our mind off ceramics,” she notes. Sitting areas are filled with vintage finds, and Dims tables and chairs are shrouded in plants, with design books scattered in piles and filling the rows of mounted bookshelves. Hanging above the sink where she rinses each piece is a framed portrait of Tupac Shakur. Every small personal touch helps the maker connect with the workshop’s new customers and visitors. “It reminds me how all this is mine,” says Stamps. “People giggle at the photo and we end up talking about our favorite Tupac songs as they look at mugs.”
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