In the late 1800's at the turn of the century, The Hat Factory became the largest employer of people in the city of Peekskill. Trolleys interconnected the downtown area by the riverfront to the factory up the hill. By the time the Great Depression hit, the factory relocated to Connecticut. The factory was abandoned until the 1970's when the property was bought by the Green Family.
The factory has since been refurbished and is home to audio engineers, a coffee roastery, sculptors, a yoga studio, a fencing studio, cabinet makers, and the Peekskill Clay Studios just to name a few.
Some of the Artists Working out of the Hat Factory include:
Ben and Francesca Green, musicians hailing from NYC, have rebuilt The Hat Factory into the thriving artists' hub it is today. Their founding of the Peekskill Clay Studios within The Hat Factory established a permanent home to ceramic artists in Peekskill. This summer I was fortunate enough to complete a studio assistantship there.
While at The Peekskill Clay Studios (PCS) I learned how to mix glazes from scratch, load, fire, and unload bisque and glaze kilns. I spent many hours there and was able to develop a cohesive body of sculptural work. The studio is a much larger space than most visitors anticipate with gallery space, glaze mixing areas, several private studios, two member storage rooms and over fifteen wheels for throwing. There are three electric kilns inside and one gas kiln out back.
PCS hosts many wonderful guest workshops and gallery shows throughout the year. They offer a range of classes from beginner to advanced, slab construction, to wheel throwing. It is a great studio precisely because it is so versatile. Artists are constantly at work on various projects and I found it to be an incredible resource to turn to my fellow artists for advice career-wise and for help in technique with throwing and sculpting! Being in a living breathing art environment is always so much more enjoyable than being in a studio on your own. Granted there were days where it was quieter and I appreciated having some alone time, but primarily it was wonderful to be able to look to friends for critiques when I was feeling stuck or unsure.
Ultimately, at the end of my assistantship over the summer, I was offered a volunteer position to keep making glazes and the ability to have a solo show in the gallery space. Having the opportunity to organize and curate my own show was an unforgettable experience and I am so grateful for all of the help I received. Especially from the director, Jessica Dubin, and my college professor Steve Montgomery. Both mentors provided invaluable critiques and advice with my work. Thank you!
Coming up at the Peekskill Clay Studios is the Fluxional Clay show on Saturday, March 24 from 12 PM - 3 PM. Hope to see you there!