About The Clay Lady
Danielle McDaniel is The Clay Lady®
The Clay Lady is best known since 1982 for a clay teaching program in the schools of Middle Tennessee. She has dedicated her life to the transformative power of art by teaching clay to hundreds of thousands of children and ensuring clay would be taught in the classroom by educating art teachers The Clay Lady Way, a teaching modality for art teachers nationally.
She created The Clay Lady’s Campus, an art community in Nashville, Tennessee, which sees over 500 students and artists each week, filling studios and classrooms with enhancing, creative endeavors. For all ages, all levels and in all circumstances, Danielle~The Clay Lady has created a way for clay to be accessible to everyone via videos, books, seminars and The Campus.
How it all began
Remembering a 1st place prize she’d won for a clay baby shoe she’d made with art teacher Sandra Kandros during a middle school 4-H arts and crafts contest, Danielle McDaniel took her first pottery class in 1981 through Nashville Metro Parks and Recreation. Soon after embracing clay’s lesson of “process, not project”, Danielle offered to help her Metro Parks Instructor Lena Lucas with kids’ classes and soon afterward was teaching those same classes. Ann Horan, Director of the Centennial Arts Center, saw Danielle’s enthusiasm and offered her a full-time teaching position at the Bellevue Community Center, where Danielle would go on to teach for 15 years. During that time, Danielle also worked at Mid-South Ceramic Supply Company (then owned by Tom Turnbull) which provided a full scope of ceramics information and education.
In 1982, at the request of one of her student’s parents, Danielle taught clay at a birthday party. The clay plates were decorated with slips and single-fired for efficiency and quick turn-around. Two elementary school teachers attended that party and asked Danielle if she would come to their classrooms to teach a clay workshop for an in-house field trip. This began Danielle’s career as “The Clay Lady”.
By 1995, Danielle was teaching 500 to 800 kids per week in schools throughout Middle Tennessee–full grade levels at a time in school cafeterias–and was booked two years in advance. The art teachers of these schools came to The Clay Lady’s workshops and asked Danielle to provide information about how she was teaching the quantity and quality of clay projects in a such short amount of time. Danielle started teaching The Clay Lady’s Inservices; sharing her projects, her Clay Paints , and the single-firing process. To further help these teachers, Danielle wrote How to Teach Clay…The Clay Lady Way in 1996. She also produced instructional videos and started teaching inservices on a national level.
In 2010, Danielle and business associate, Tami Archer, purchased Mid-South Ceramic Supply Company. This enabled Danielle to market The Clay Lady Way on a larger scale and to develop an educational program at the Mid-South Ceramic Supply Company’s facilities in Nashville. After acquiring three more buildings on the property, the business expanded exponentially. Danielle established The Clay Lady’s Campus whose mission is to be a creative community nurturing creativity through life-giving community, one artist at a time.
Currently, Danielle oversees 65 on-premise artists with private studios, 350 pottery, sculpture, and glass students, and numerous workshops and community events each year on The Clay Lady’s Campus. Danielle is sought after to teach not only her inservices, but to also share her successful business model of the The Clay Lady’s Campus. Danielle provides keynotes about her experience, sharing what she loves to do every day with people of all ages, in all circumstances, and at all skill levels.
“Take what you think. Take what you feel. Mix it all up, and make something real.”
Since 1982, this motto has been repeated by The Clay Lady and her students in every class and workshop. It encompasses her philosophy surrounding the greatness and goodness of being an artist; it goes beyond creating a clay project. It asks the artist to consider the call that artists not only make beautiful things, but they are called to make the world a more beautiful place.
The Clay Lady's Campus Staff
CO-OWNER, "THE CLAY LADY" AND STUDIO INSTRUCTOR
Better known as “The Clay Lady” since 1982, Danielle became co-owner of Mid-South Ceramics in 2007, merging her teaching and product line. Danielle administrates the educational component of the business. When not teaching, she likes to sculpt, write and mentor new artists. She teaches Wednesday morning and evening pottery classes.
CO-OWNER AND MID-SOUTH CERAMICS MANAGER
After starting as an employee 30 years ago, Tami became co-owner of Mid-South Ceramics in 2007. She administrates the supply portion of the business. Tami enjoys woodworking and the outdoors.
CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGER
Denise started working for The Clay Lady in 2004 and is now the Community Operations Manager of our Campus. Denise keeps our 26 kilns, 60 on-premise artists and 7 staff members programmed and ready to go. She enjoys putting her artistic spin on pottery and spending time with friends.
PRODUCTION MANAGER, KILN REPAIR, & POTTERY INSTRUCTOR
Kerby has a BA in Ceramics from The University of North Georgia. He runs a tight ship in the Warehouse, and keeps Mid-South stocked with glaze. He is a Kiln Repair Specialist. He makes a mean mug, and if you don’t agree, he’ll give you a “mean mug.”
RESEARCH,AND DEVELOPMENT, BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER & POTTERY INSTRUCTOR
Joseph completed his BFA in Ceramics at Appalachian Center for Crafts. Joseph has developed our last several lines of Opulence Glaze and The Clay Lady’s Products. Busy in the lab, he is our go-to guy for all things glaze. Joseph teaches our Tuesday morning pottery class.
Celeste joined our team with an impressive resume in Clay and Chemistry! A biology graduate with a minor in studio arts focusing on ceramics from the University of Mississippi, she brings not only a vast reach of knowledge, but a love of clay and community! We look forward to Celeste joining in our R&D in the lab!
WAREHOUSE MANAGER, KILN REPAIR, POTTERY INSTRUCTOR
Alexie keeps our warehouse ‘ready…set…GO!’ for orders and production. He studied ceramics at Wichita State in Kansas and enjoys his own studio space in Studio B where he can develop his craft. He also loves high-fives and cartwheels. Alexie teaches our Monday night pottery class and is Kiln our Repair Specialist.
Anne Marie Narey
STUDIO MANAGER, POTTERY AND STAINED GLASS INSTRUCTOR
Anne Marie has been told loading kilns is a “thankless job”, but she feels like a freaking rock star. She came to us from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her BFA. Her studio on Campus is her home away from home where she can be found incorporating rocks, bones, feathers and fibers into her work.
STAINED GLASS INSTRUCTOR
Melissa makes us look good – literally! She keeps our Campus always guest ready and looking great! She loves stained and fused glass, the outdoors, and making relationships on The Campus!
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT, SCULPTURE INSTRUCTOR
Cassis, pronounced (Cuh-s-ees), has her BFA in Ceramics with a background in ceramic production. She is exploring new art expressions with light sculptures. She is rarely seen on Campus without her dogs.
WAREHOUSE FULFILLMENT, "THE BAG MAN"
Yarl is a potter, creator, and hard-working member of our team! We love having him in the warehouse making our glazes shelf ready, shipping on time, and production accurate!
If you know about the events and news around the campus, Jennifer is the reason why! Jennifer is learning more and more about clay everyday and finds joy in taking photos of the students and the team and sharing them with our community. She is a dog mom and loves to travel!
Edgar P. Kaolin & Col. Silica Sanders
QUALITY CONTROL, NIGHT SECURITY
By day, Edgar, pictured on the left, and Silica, pictured on the right, can be found in the warehouse inspecting all incoming and outbound shipments. By night, they take their jobs very seriously as our campus security guards.
Petri (Pee-Tree) Pitman
WAREHOUSE CUSTOMER LIASON
Petri is an enthusiastic five-year old pup who provides boundless joy to our campus. Whether he is greeting customers or overseeing warehouse operations with his mom, Cassis, he will make your visit a truly pawsome experience!