Upon first glance into the studio at MudWorks Pottery in Effort, Pennsylvania, one might think they’ve entered Santa’s Workshop. There, a team of employees (or minions as they’re lovingly called) is constantly molding, firing, glazing, painting, and preparing pottery for shipment worldwide. Racks lined with clay-red pieces, at various stages of completion, exhibit not only great craftsmanship, but also unique designs and artistry.
At the helm of MudWorks Pottery is JoAnn Stratakos, whose vision and creativity has driven MudWorks’ steadily increasing business for 20 years. JoAnn found her niche in the pottery realm after a few life-changing events inspired her to check some items off her “bucket list,” one being pottery making. A few classes, a new zip code, and many years later, MudWorks Pottery can now be found in homes all over the world.
It’s a family affair. JoAnn’s daughter, Leigh Ann, is always a few mouse-clicks away. She handles the business’ online presence while John, JoAnn’s son, stays busy making sure the studio is running smoothly.
While MudWorks’ studio lies behind closed doors, the gift shop at MudWorks is open year-round and stocked with beautiful handmade pieces of all kinds. Mugs are a popular purchase. Pie plates, serving dishes, butter dishes, spoon rests, and a number of specialty pieces line the shelves decorated with JoAnn’s signature designs. All MudWorks pieces are fun, functional, and suited for regular use.
MudWorks’ best seller to date is “Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn,” a happy little mug design that rose to fame in 2012 after it appeared in major retail catalog called “Uncommon Goods.” Orders for Elwood have poured in since- as many as 200 per week. It’s become clear that Elwood is quite the rockstar. Fortunately for locals, he’s available in the gift shop too.
“I think people are connecting with Elwood because it’s impossible to look at him and be miserable,” says Leigh Ann Stratakos. “He spreads love and happiness to everyone he meets.”
If creating your own pottery sounds like fun, you’re in luck. MudWorks hosts classes each Saturday and Sunday, their most popular being the Make-a-Mug class. For a limited time, and just in time for the holiday season, an angel luminary-making class is being held on select dates. Participants are urged to call and reserve ahead of time and bring a friend – classes have a two-person minimum.
This holiday season is a perfect time to visit MudWorks. Whether it’s a special piece of servingware for the holiday table that is desired, or a unique gift, there’s truly something for everyone in this whimsical world of pottery. While there, guests just might get to chat with JoAnn, whose hands still touch every piece of pottery made in the studio.
MudWorks Pottery is easy to find. It’s located right on Route 115 in Effort. For more information about their pottery or classes, visit mudworkspotterypa.com or call 570.872.9683.
Make a Memory!
Make-a-Mug classes are held Saturdays at 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. Two person minimum. Appointments required. Call 570.872.9683
Visit the Gift Shop
MudWorks is open Monday-Saturday through Christmas, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.