Mud-Luscious offers live pottery
Michelle Stambaugh not only gives downtown Dowagiac an artist to catch in the act of creating in her studio, Mud-Luscious represents an addition to Laurie Anne’s resale boutique.
Stambaugh promises an “artsy vibe” along with continuing to sell refurbished furniture and resale women’s apparel.
“I’ve always loved the way Dowagiac supports the arts,” she said. “You can feel the creativity downtown. I’ve told Scott for a few years I wanted to be a part of that creativity.”
Her purchase of nine-year-old Laurie Anne’s from Laura Kinzler frees the latter to concentrate on The Tipsy Gypsy, which she opened in the adjacent storefront under the Masonic lodge in October 2011.
A Watervliet native who graduated from Grace Christian, Stambaugh’s unique pottery reflects growing up in Berrien County along Lake Michigan and amidst inland lakes.
The colors of a summer day at the beach inspire the nature-lover’s pottery pieces — blues and greens of water and grass, yellows of sun and sand and brown driftwood washed ashore.
Stambaugh does not use a pottery wheel, preferring textures of starting from a slab of clay. Her pieces, selling as fast as she can make them, is functional as well as decorative, taking the form of mosaic, jewelry and accessories.
She presses plants from her garden or vintage finds, from lace to door hinges, into clay. Her studio is located at the rear of the shop, where visitors can watch her at work.
Eventually, she would like to offer pottery classes.
“If I did something else,” she said, “it would be fabric. I like my work to look soft and pieced together. Clay is so forgiving. You can mash it up and do it again. I’ve always been fascinated by textures rather than the smoothness from a wheel. I started out combining the two, throwing the base, then adding sections, almost like quilting. I saw what I liked and pursued how to do it.”
Stambaugh has an apprentice, Samantha Wiker. She will be assisted part-time by new daughter-in-law, Katie, a St. Joseph retail veteran. Son Jordan does vehicle restorations with SunRay Body and Paint on Pleasant Street.
Stambaugh also has a daughter, Bethany Burfield, who gave her a granddaughter, Zoe.
Michelle’s husband, Scott, is from Sister Lakes and is a pastor at Sister Lakes Community Church. They lived in Chicago five years while he attended college at Moody Bible Institute.
“I cannot be more pleased than to follow in the footsteps of Laurie Kinzler,” said Stambaugh, who met her as a Laurie Anne’s customer. “Being next-door to her is an honor. She’s mentoring me well. We’ve done most of this on a ‘hug and a handshake.’ ”
Stambaugh was exposed to pottery through a Southwestern Michigan College class taught by Sherrie Styx and has been working in the medium for eight years.
“I did art shows for a few years” in Van Buren County towns such as South Haven and Paw Paw from her home studio.
Mud-Luscious and puddle-wonderful come from the poetry of E.E. Cummings and was suggested by friend Claudia Zebell.
“It made sense to put it on the store and maybe spark some curiosity,” she said. “I put the whimsical quote (on the window) so people think, ‘This might be fun.’ Everything in the resale shop is so eclectic.”
“I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time,” Stambaugh said. In fact, she and Zebell, a school board member who also lived in Chicago, “always talked about having a coffee shop.”