Clay Owen Studios

Center for lost art forms!

About Us

My name is Autumn Tetlow and I am the owner and operator of Clay Owen Studios. I started my studio when I was nineteen years old in a small space in downtown Anchorage. As my class attendance started to grow so did the studio. We went from a one wheel studio to a studio with eight wheels and three kilns. 

   At the studio I teach all the classes that are hosted and organize and advertise guest artist who teach classes in different media. I teach stained glass, fused glass, wheel thrown pottery, and watercolor classes. I teach hand built pottery to children as well as host classes for large camp groups, girl scout groups, and home school groups. 
   
  I also sell my art in many venues. I have presented my work at the Whales Tale in the Caption Cook, Kaladi Brothers, Midnight Sun Cafe, and many other cafes and galleries. All the paintings on our gallery page are my creations as well as the pottery and crochet items for sale. I sculpt all pottery by hand and it is all hand painted with a brush. I believe that art should be affordable to everyone so I do like to sell items in a range of prices.
   
  My crafts I sell at many craft fairs. I have participated in the forest fair for the past six years as well as the Blueberry Festival, Fiddle Head Festival, Bear Paw Festival and Slush Cup. In the winter I have participated in the  Make it Alaska Festival, Holiday Food and Gift Festival, and the Christmas Village. 
    
  The studio has given me many blessing the biggest being life experience. I have taught the disabled for two years as the director of the pottery class at the Arc of Anchorage. I have also done adjunct non credit courses teaching for UAA as well as been commissioned to do classes for native corporations in remote communities. 
  
   Since I was young I have been making art. I have to thank my mom, a self employed accountant, for her example of hard work and business ownership as a single parent. I made a mess of every carpet in every apartment, house, condo, and even car we ever owned. Through every mess of paint on the carpet and hot glue spot on the couch she managed to support me. 

The Inspiration 


The studio was named after my grandfather Clay Owen Johnson. He was the kindest man and the most caring person in my world thus far. Unfortunately he passed away a year before the studio started but I would like to think that he can see the happiness it brings me and the community of Anchorage. He came here on a shipping freighter from Detroit in 1941 with his parents and younger sister. Back then there were no roads from Homer to Anchorage which is where the ship docked. My great grandma cursed for the only time in her life when she experienced her first earth quake in Homer the first month they stayed and believe me cursing for a her was  big deal, it was a big deal for any woman the 40's. 

 
  My great grandparents bought 80 acres in Palmer for $100 in the 40's we still have the property today. It is the closest to heaven that I have ever been. Twenty cleared acres and a small white house and a seperate building for the garage. They made their own house, dug their own foundation and even plumbing and electric was tasked to my great grandpa. Being a mechanic that once worked on the line for Ford it was a piece of cake but then most folks knew how to do all of that in that time, or so my grandpa told me. He would be able to keep things running forever but mentioned that as time passed we designed products to break. 
   
   Every time we would visit the farm after we moved into town I would received an art items to take home to mom's. Much to her anxiety of keeping the house clean. He would give me drawing sets, colored pencils, watercolor sets, and tips such as " a good artist always signed their work... always!". He would even buy everyone one present on his own birthday so that no one would feel left out one of the many reasons I loved him so much. 
   
  The farm had a green house and a porch swing which is what I remember most. It smelled like tomatoes and was the best kind of warm humid air a human could breath. The floors where made of pallet boards and when I was small I was always afraid of getting my foot stuck between the boards. My grandma would eat fresh tomatoes like candy, once the greenhouse was no longer there she stopped, she said the ones at the store had no flavor. 
     
  The garage they lived in until the house was built. In the winter they used a dog sled to travel and in the summers an old army ambulance that looked like the one in MASH. They had a very funny story about how my great aunt Shirley crashed it into a ditch while sneaking out of the house but we didn't talk about it very often.  They also used to have to use the outhouse in the dead of winter when it was thirty below zero. They used to stretch long underwear over the seat to make sure they would not stick to it when it got covered in frost. Once the house was built they moved in on Christmas Eve 1945. 
The house in palmer is still in our family, though my grandpa is gone everytime I visit the house it smells like him and feels like no other place on earth. He was the best person I knew who always managed to do the right thing. He is very missed but I am glad he was blessed to live in such a beautiful place that still remains in our family.  When its sunny its paradise on earth right next to the purple mountains of the Matanuska Valley. Surrounded by twenty cleared acres that the family cleared themselves with boxes of dynamite and bow saws. There is a 8 ft pine tree that I gave my grandpa for earth day when it was less than a foot tall. Two crab apple trees get so full of apples the limbs touch the ground towards the end of the crab apple season.

Traveling to Chiang Mai Thailand

 

Let me give you some tips on some very important things to bring with you or to purchase when you get here. If you are not used to a hot climate and a very humid one you will need some baby powder. Our first big walk here our legs rubbed together and stuck together so badly we had a huge rash on our thighs. Don't let this happen to you, its very uncomfortable. baby powder will help with this. Also if you are a Westerner bring toilet paper with you everywhere. Most bathrooms do rr. not have it but instead have a hose for you to wash with. If you are uncomfortable with this you are going to need to carry some toilet paper. 

So what did the trip cost us?


Because we are from Alaska we took four connecting flights to get here. We were upset about the long lay overs but our advice is to at least have one long lay over. On the way back we had no lay overs and it was way more exhausting and hard to catch connections. The travel time was 28

hours total in the air.... yikes but it was worth it. I don't know how we would have done it without a travel agency. We used expedia and got a package deal for hotel and flight. All tog

ether for two people for flights and eight days at our hotel is was $3100.00. That included in flight meals. If you fly with any Asia airlines such as EVA which is the airline we took it is much like the countries you visit... everything includes food and they will not stop feeding you. Every activity you do in Thialand will most likely include lunch or dinner. In fact " have you eaten today?" is a common expression used almost as a hello to strangers. Our first flight was on Alaska Airline, the remaining flights were through EVA Air. We did have an 8 and a twelve hour layover but honestly it was great to have that long of a break to be off the plane. Our longest flight was 12 hours and we were getting squirelly on the plane even with the free movies, games and meals. On our flight on Alaska Airlines it was about $9 for a head set for movies which isn't too bad. 

The currency here is Baht and 1000 baht is about $30 in American money. So it was really hard for us to put into perspective what to tip or if you were supposed to tip here. The answer is yes typically between 20 to 40 baht is a good tip. When I first got here I was tipping 100 baht which is way too much but it was h jard to put into perspective as it is only $3 to me. The average monthly salary for a laborer in Thailand is 6000 to 8000 baht, if you have a degree  it is 10000 baht. So may help you to put that into perspective.  Food here is really cheap, its about 300 to 400 baht per meal for the two of us and this is at restaurants if you go to the massive night markets here food can be 100 to 75 baht per person. Really cheap and it is not as scary as they say as long as you go to a vendor who is selling food consistently and it is not sitting out. 


What activities did we do?


Flight of the Gibbon Zip Lining


Well our favorite activity was the Flight of the Gibbon zip lining trip. It was the first zip line established in Chiang Mai. The guides were super funny and really put you at ease. You are strapped in the whole time so don't have to worry about falling. However if you are not in good physical shape it might not be for you. There is some hiking through the jungle that is involved. The tour was about $112 each however it was two and a half hours with 38 obstacles and after they served lunch in the mountain village. You will find many of the activities in Chiang Mia come with a meal. A translator told me that one of the most common expresses between even strangers in Thailand is " have you eaten today?" which is similar to our " good day".  It also included round trip transportation from hotel. After the activity they will also take you to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls and you can choose to hike up it.


Bobby's Elephant Park with guide Ton Pawat ( look him up on facebook to get a tour)

 

Our next favorite was riding the elephants. There are many different parks you can visit to see the elephant. The Elephant Nature Park is the largest with over 70 elephants however you don't not get personal time with the elephants. We choose to support a smaller park called Bobby's Elephant Park which is right next door in the Northern part of Chiang Mai about a half hours drive from the city. We learned many things about elephant and our guide really took the time to not only show us something we have never seen before but to educate us on these animals. We waded through thigh high mud and just as I was watching an elelphant... well... ummm... made a lake in the mud in front of me I was stepping right in it.... with my bare feet. So if you don't mind some adventure you can walk your elephant through the mud and fall on your face a couple times like I did or you can choose to ride him there. Riding an elephant is no the most comfortable so I would advise against tours where you ride them for three hours. They gave us a beautiful fifteen minutes atop the elephants and given their hairs are like a wire brush that was more than enough time.  They are highly intelligent and stubborn creatures but so gentle and fun. We learned that each has its own special personality. They eat about 100 lbs a day! The domestic elephants were domesticated firstly to be used in war with the king riding the Elephant and soldiers with swords guarding the feet however with the invention of the gun the second generation was used just for farmland and transportation. With modern technology these Elephants are placed in Elephant parks to be cared for and fed by those who can spend a lot of time with them and maintain a relationship. There are only two species of elephants in the world the African and the Asian elephant. The Asian elephants are small and only the males have tusks, they also have two humps on the head African elephants have flat heads and are much larger. African elephants both male and female have tusks. You can not purchase ivory here and bring it anywhere to help put an end to the ivory trade. African elephants are also not as smart as Asian elephants typically and are hard to domesticate so they are most often hunted as it is harder to use they for another purpose which is sad to say. I wish their purpose could be seen as just a creature to admire. Anyway elephants travel in families and some families get along and some don't. Elephants are pregnant for two years typically. They live the same life span as humans they can get up to 80 years old. When feeding them you have to establish eye contact. They are best trained with food, they will follow someone with food anywhere. They eat mostly pumpkins at the farm we went to, bananas are treats as they have too much sugar, and they also eat corn stalks. They have 32 teeth in four sets of eight but they are deep inside the mouth and are flat. We learned so much today and it was so much fun!

Araska Tea Plantation

This activity was a pleasant surprise. When we first got there we were not so sure we picked the right activity for our day but it turned out to be super fun and interesting. Our instructors name was Charley and he was a sixty year our retired rafting guide who spent his days teaching visitors about tea.  We went to the tea plantation where they still do everything by hand. There are two ways they can grow tea one is with a fresh cut bud placed in the soil this plant is not as strong as the roots are very shallow and the plant therefore has less nutrients the plants that start from the seed that drops from the tea tree have more more flavor as they have the tap root or the root that goes further into the ground. The seeds that make a rattling sound are no good as this means there is air in them as the inner seed has shrunken and died. The seeds that are solid and don't make a rattling sound are good seeds these seeds will sink to the bottom of a bucket of water the others will not. There are two species of tea is Thailand but both are imported they do not grow naturally. One is the a tea from china and the other is a tea for India. The tea from India can only have sunlight 30% of the time so they grow leafy tall trees around these tea bushes to shield them from the sun. The china tea needs sunlight 100% of the time. When picking the tea the leaf needs to be completely closed and not yet open. Open tea leaves only give the tea color they have no flavor. So when we picked the tea we picked the enclosed leave and open open leaf for color. White and black tea need to ferment for one whole day and dry under fans. Green tea can be thrown into a hot pan and roasted. It does not burn because of the natural oil the leaves produce. After the green tea we picked was roasted it was ground by hand and roasted again. It will need a couple of days to dry. When two is maturing it takes two years in the nursery and after it is planted it takes three years to be able to be harvested! Holy cow! That's a lot of work. They plant lemon grass around the plants as natural bug protection.  The more of the stalk of the plant that is added to make the tea the more caffine it has. That is why black tea is often make with a lot of stalk, which is the most common type of tea in the world and the more expensive white tea is made only with the closed leaf bud.  It is a very quite and slow paced activity so if that is not for you I would not recommend it or I would save until the end of your trip when you are tired. It does give you a chance to see some beautiful country and get out of the city. 

Glass Blowing and Lantern Making


Since I run an art studio I wanted to get to know local artisans and take some classes. Back Alley Arts is a company that connects students with teachers for arts in other countries. It is owned by a Portugese man and they feature lessons such as Thai Boxing, Soap Carving, and Wooden Crafts that are the trade of many people in Thailand. They operate in about four different countries and will hire a translator for you when you take a class. These lanterns were specific to northern Thailand. These ladies are making hundreds of these for the water celebration ceremony that will be happening on November 3rd. These lamps represent joy and luck in life. We started by bending bamboo strips around a measured board. You can see the board in the photo in this woman's lap. Once the structure is done lace and fabric is glued onto the frame a section at a time and the excess in cut away. The edges are glued golden paper and the tails are glued on last. It was a lot more intricate then we thought and will a lot of help took us about two hours lol. We did a small one but took a picture of a large one outside of a temple so you can see how big they can get. These ladies have owned this business for two years.