By Grace Mottley
When senior art major Leah Schaperow accidentally walked into the Art and Learning Center for the first time her freshman year, she never pictured it would become such a significant part of her life.
Schaperow, who is not heavily involved in the Jewish community at this university, said she still attends services on the holidays and recently visited Israel.
After discovering her love for working on the pottery wheel and developing her own glazes, Schaperow opened an online store almost two months ago, called Milk Oolong Studio, to help sell her ceramics.
“I picked that name because it’s my favorite type of tea and I love making teacups and teapots,” Schaperow said.
She believes has found success with her store and her art as she has sold her ceramics and paintings to galleries and restaurants, and has also received commissions for her work.
Schaperow jokingly claims that she sells her work to get it out of her apartment, but she values knowing that others have and appreciate her work.
“It’s so nice knowing that someone enjoys them. I know that when I eat with a handmade piece of ceramics, it definitely makes me appreciate the food more,” Schaperow said. “I hope that it does the same for other people too.”
Schaperow also spreads her love of ceramics as a teacher and ceramic technician at the Art and Learning Center. There, she helps students as they work, fires the kilns and mixes glazes for students to use.
Schaperow’s work has left an impact on the studio at this university said Annie Rappeport, graduate student and manager of the ceramic studio at the Art and Learning Center.
“She goes above and beyond to ensure the studio is improving over time and is a safe place for people to learn and be creative,” Rappeport said.
Schaperow plays a significant role at the studio now, but she originally found the ceramic studio by mistake.
“I actually found the studio on accident when I opened the wrong door. They told me there was a ceramic studio here and I started doing a class, then open studio, and then by my sophomore year I became a teacher,” she said.
One of her favorite parts of teaching and working at the Art and Learning Center, as well as ceramics work in general, is mixing finishes.
“My favorite part of ceramics is the glazes,” said Schaperow. “I love it because you can look through books and they have recipes for all different types of glazes you can try and make.”
She said she also enjoys experimenting with the way the glazes fire in gas kilns. While electric kilns evenly heat throughout, gas kilns create different temperatures and pressures in their chambers, leading to unpredictable disparities in the way the pottery and glaze fires.
“I love the aspect of gas kilns because you don’t know what’s going to happen when it gets fired,” she said.
While she began working with pottery in high school, Schaperow has learned new techniques and has discovered new aspects to the art of ceramic making while at this university.Rappeport agrees, and says that during the time she has known Schaperow, she has grown as an artist.
“I have seen Leah take initiative to learn about mediums and techniques which have expanded her own skill set,” Rappeport said. “I have seen her grow in her own artistic style through these skills and through being a teacher in our studio.”