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Breaking the Mold in Boca Raton

A new woman-owned pottery studio is fostering creativity and offering a outlet for expression in Boca Raton. 'Boca Mudworks has an energy that I don’t think you could replicate anywhere else besides here,' says founder Connie Picouto.

Connie Picouto shaping the opening to her vase. (Photo by Bella Kubach)

Bella Kubach | MediaLab@FAU

Jan 30, 2024

In her clay-covered sandals and green corduroy overalls, Connie Picouto unlocks the studio door with a smile. Born in Argentina but now living in Fort Lauderdale, Picouto opened Boca Raton’s first-ever community pottery studio, Boca Mudworks, last August. The response from the community has been overwhelming so much so that it's hard to get a space in a class or a session by the wheel.

Connie Picouti, the founder of Boca Mudworks, in her studio. (Courtesy)

The studio, nestled on NW 1st street between Yamato and Spanish River, is intimate with abstract paintings on the walls. 

After starting pottery during the pandemic, Picouto found a love for it. Mostly self-taught, she quickly became skilled enough to start teaching classes at the Boca Raton Museum Art School. However, she was soon met with demands from class-takers looking for a place to practice. Thus, Boca Mudworks was born. 

“When I was teaching at the museum, it killed me to teach month after month and have people ask, ‘Where can I go to practice?’ and  [the answer] would be nowhere,” Picouto said. 

As a Fort Lauderdale resident, she was unaware of Boca’s lack of pottery studios. “In Fort Lauderdale, there’s four or five studios,” she said. “There’s not even one close to here.” 

Since Boca Mudworks’ opening, Picouto’s been met with an abundance of positive feedback from the community. Now, she’s having sold out classes and is currently capped out on membership openings. 

“I’m pretty stoked that everyone has a place to come, practice, and do pottery,” she said. 

She explained how difficult it is for people to continue practicing and become good without a studio like this as the materials needed are costly. “Clay is sold in pallets– by weight. One bag of clay is 25 pounds,” she said. “The cost for 25 pounds for just one bag [of clay] is crazy unless you’re buying in bulk.” 

There are other high expenses. A kiln - a special high-temperature oven for baking pottery – costs about $4,000. 

Picouto opened Boca Mudworks to allow those looking for a creative outlet a more affordable option than having to personally buy clay, a kiln, and other needed materials. 

In the future, she’s hoping to “expand the space or open another one so as many people can really enjoy it,” Picouto said. “For me, it was super life changing.” 

Pottery forces patience. “It’s a very slow art form,” she explained. If you’re not patient, pottery can crack or break. 

Since starting ceramics, Picouto said she’s noticed she’s calmer and realized “the only person that holds you back is yourself.” 

Since the studio’s opening, it has grown rapidly. Now, Picouto is trying to meet the demand. Every month, she creates a schedule that showcases her class offerings. For the month of December, she has a “Harry Pottery” class available and an ornament-making class. 

Those taking the “Harry Pottery” course can make mugs with different house names displayed on them: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. She offered this class once before in October, but such popular demand led her to teach the class again. 

“I need to catch up on how quickly people have started to make things because I did not factor that in too much,” she said. 

The studio is open 24 hours a day for members. That being said, she’s seeing members sit for hours making pottery. But now, Picouto has to assess the studio’s rapid growth while trying not to overwork herself. 

“I need to slow down a bit because I push myself way too hard,” she said. 

Nevertheless, she is trying to meet the studio’s demand and come up with more and more class ideas for the future. 

Currently, she plans on hosting heart-shaped bowl-making classes near Valentine’s Day and a class on how to make hanging wall planters closer to summer time. “I really want to do jewelry,” she also expressed. “For me, fun workshops are the number one thing I want to have.”

When thinking of more class ideas, she asks herself: “What do I want to learn and teach myself and then teach other people?”

Picouto recently hired another teacher to comply with the studio’s current demand. “I’m not having her replace any classes that are being taught, she’s just adding to the calendar,” she said. 

As the studio continues to grow, Picouto is conscious of the kind of energy she is curating in her space– especially amongst the group of members that are able to enter the studio as they please. 

Picouto feels like she’s successfully attained the positive environment she wished for. 

“Boca Mudworks has an energy that I don’t think you could replicate anywhere else besides here,” Picouto said. “Where no one knows each other but everyone’s on the same journey.”

(Photo gallery by Bella Kubach)

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