Creating with Clay in Grand Marais

In a cozy art room in the cozy town of Grand Marais gather a group of students and an artist. That artist is Melissa Wickwire, a clay artist who wants to bring her passion for clay to the youth of Grand Marais through a group called Clay Club. Cook County School’s only art room hosts the club for students from surrounding schools.

In this art room, you’ll find children grades 6-12 shaping clay bowls and adding fun details with an array of tools. This work time is always a learning opportunity, especially for two girls attempting to center their clay on the pottery wheels. They tried it themselves and the clay would wobble and slip out of place. Then, they finally gave in and asked for help from Melissa Wickwire. She showed them exactly how to hold their arms to get their clay centered.

“Use your whole body,” said Wickwire.

Wickwire has been a clay artist for over 20 years and teaches many classes in the Grand 


Marais area including classes at The Grand Marais Art Colony and the North House Folk School.


“She’s magical!” exclaimed Molly, a Clay Club member, when Wickwire helped her center her clay.

The Clay Club has two sessions, one for younger kids in grades 1-5 and another session for grades 6-12. Both sessions learn all the rules, techniques, and terminology to create a safe, successful environment. The children’s’ knowledge of clay and all the tools are very apparent as they ask for specific tools or help with their clay pieces.

“I like this because it gives me something to do after school,” said 6th grader, Cody.

Each student has a favorite aspect to the clay making process ranging from making their piece to glazing it. The students also talked about where they get their ideas and many of them said they get inspired by TV shows or they come up with ideas for gifts for family members. This special after school activity has given the children of Grand Marais an opportunity to learn something that isn’t typically taught in their art classes. To sign up for Clay Club you must submit your registration to the ISD 166 central office. If you have any questions contact Melissa Wickwire at or (218) 370-1474. Clay Club receives help with funding through the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council’s Arts Learning Grant.