East Wheeling Clay Works Molding Future Downtown

Photos by Joselyn King Beth Patsch, co-owner of East Wheeling Clay Works, shows some of the pottery created in the shop.

WHEELING — A Wheeling pair is crafting mugs, pots and jewlery — and teaching youths to make “monsters” from clay — as they seek to mold the future of their business in downtown Wheeling.

East Wheeling Clay Works has been open at 747 Market St. near the Wheeling Tunnel since March. It serves not only as a place to buy ceramics, but also as hub for patrons to learn the art of pottery-making.

And it appears many want to learn just how to throw their own pots on a pottery wheel. “Throwing” refers to the method of actually tossing a ball of clay into the center of the wheel head. It takes practice and a little force to get it right.

The business hosts monthly “Sculpt N’ Gulp” for those interested in creating ceramics, with room for 30 to participate. Tickets for the events typically sell out weeks in advance.

Owners Adam Bedway and Beth Patsch said they could add a second event each month, but this might cut into the time they can devote to monthly Saturday morning “Kid’s Labs.” This is where they help children find their creative sides, and perhaps craft a monster from clay.

Patsch also will soon start teaching hand-sculpting classes.

Private and group lessons are available at East Wheeling Clay Works, and there are also open studio hours for crafters who want to come in and work on projects.

Most recently, the businesses began offering the opportunity for corporate and team-building events.

Bedway and Patsch met while both were art students at Bethany College. They started their business in a garage at their home in East Wheeling in 2015, but found the location wasn’t “customer friendly.”

“It wasn’t conducive to having walk-up customers,” Patsch said. “It wasn’t as inviting as a storefront is.”

In June 2017, the shop moved to Centre Market — where it remained until the end of last December when Bedway and Patsch prepared for their move downtown.

“We were moving out Jan. 1, and we had our biggest private party to date on Dec. 30,” Bedway said. More than 30 people attended.

Bedway is a carpenter and contractor who has honed his skills in both woodworking and metal sculpting, as well as pottery. He crafts items out of wood and metal in addition to making them from clay.

Patsch said her grandfather, Richard Kimmel, also was a carpenter, and she has been around woodworking all her life.

She has a background as textiles artist.

Other businesses in the area are doing business with Wheeling Clay Works.

The business has crafted specially designed mugs for Mugshots, a coffee shop expected to open soon in Wheeling.

Good Mansion Wines is selling cutting boards made at Wheeling Clay Works, and Bedway has built shelving and tables for Good Mansion Wines.

He has also constructed displays for Cat’s Paw Studios, a local art supplies shop.

And during the Christmas season, East Wheeling Clay Works opened a “pop up” ceramics at Later Alligator in the Centre Market area.

Next is a line of magnets for Zeb’s Barky Bites in Center Wheeling.

East Wheeling Clay Works also is giving other local artists a chance to sell their wares. At present, there are items available at the shop by photographer Erin Yaeger of Wheeling and watercolorist Rosalee Haizlett of Bethany.

Bedway said he prefers to craft “functional” items that are used everyday, as opposed to those that sit on a shelf and get dusted once in a while.

“I prefer people use my pots,” he said. “If they get broken, that’s fine. It’s job security.”

Patsch, meanwhile, likes to combines her art interests with her personal interests.

She and Bedway have founded the East Wheeling Kitty Coalition, an effort to rescue, spay, neuter and vaccinate stray cats. Shop cat Reese, one of the rescues, greets visitors at East Wheeling Clay Works.

Patsch crafts cat-shaped magnets out of clay, and profits from their sale compensate veterinarians who help them with their effort.

Bedway and Patsch say they can best be reached through messaging on their East Wheeling Clay Works Facebook page.