image- Randall Reid
Randall Reid has been a fixture of the Coastside arts scene for 40 years. He enjoys working with students of all ages. Kyle Ludowitz/Review

Tucked behind Absolute Flooring on Kelly Avenue is an old pottery studio in a 120-year-old barn. These crowded shelves of clay sculptures and wares are the creative space of Coastside potter Randall Reid.

You won’t find Reid’s studio on Facebook or Yelp. He doesn’t have a website, yet. He says he should probably get one at some point, but he’s in no rush.

“I’m not in that big of a hurry,” he said. “I like to bring people in one at a time.”

Reid has been making his pottery on the coast for the last 40 years. After decades of work in the community supporting local artists and teaching students, the 72-year-old potter says he is just getting started.

“There are always new opportunities to explore,” he said. “I’m just scratching the surface.”

When Reid moved to Half Moon Bay in 1978, he said it was just a sleepy little town. “There were no galleries when I came here,” he said. “It was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind.” 

Reid quickly worked to change that. In his studio, he has an old, faded program from 1979 of the grand opening of his first gallery. He says he had to offer free wine to get people to come, but come they did. 

Reid has always been involved in the local arts scene. He was president of the Coastal Arts League for three years and curated several exhibits there on local ceramics artists and their work. He lent his voice to the group that organized Made on the Coast, a special area dedicated to local artists during the annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. For the last several years he’s had a booth at the Coastside Farmers Market.

Reid’s work is varied: hearty mugs for a big cup of coffee, ceramic birdhouses ready to hang, rustic pots fired in the Japanese raku style. He specializes in whimsical vegetable steamers, with a little figurine perched on top where the steam comes out.

“My goal is to be on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ in 100 years,” he joked.

Besides creating his own work, Reid also teaches ceramics. He says he never really set out to teach children, but over the years he has developed a gentle approach to working with young students based on listening and mutual respect.

He started teaching kids in the ‘80s, bringing in one child at a time, connecting with them, letting them get comfortable in the studio, then adding another.

“At 4 years old, I believe you are already an artist. You know what to do,” he said. “I believe discovery is more important than skill. You can’t teach creativity, but you can foster it.”

He’s seen many a wild child running around at the first class, not paying attention to anything. They will focus for maybe five minutes that first day, but the next class it will be 10. Before long, they will come to class and be completely engaged for the full hour. 

“What an honor to be in the presence of such gentle souls,” he said. “You can’t overpower a child. You can’t get it by will.” 

Reid is currently teaching a group of homeschooled students and has recently become an approved vendor for the local homeschool charter school, Ocean Grove. He hopes to add a few more classes for homeschoolers or other kids. Reid also teaches several adult classes and is planning to start a parent-child class soon. 

He says that working with clay seems to fulfill a deep need in some people. It is a connection to the earth, to history, to creativity. It requires focus and patience and skill. It can feel almost magical to transform a shapeless lump into a graceful vase or work of art.

“This is the dance of hands throwing a pot,” said Reid, placing his hands in front of him like he is shaping clay. “This dance has been going on for thousands of years. Every moment, someone, somewhere, is making a pot. It is a beautiful dance.”

For more information, contact Reid at (650) 759-1792 or wayriteclay@sbcglobal.net.

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