(AJ Evansen and Sydney Dickson | Photo by Kristine Thomas)
Synergy Ceramics Encourages Creativity to Flourish
AJ Evansen, 29, took a pottery class to relieve stress from his other college classes. Sydney Dickson, 22, discovered her love for ceramics in high school. Their paths crossed in Dickson’s garage when they were “throwing clay.”
Eager to share their love of working with clay to create items with others, they decided to open Synergy Ceramics in June 2021. “Synergy Ceramics is a small yet comfortable community studio for people of all levels,” Evansen said. “It’s a safe space for people to express themselves in their work, enjoy the moments of working with clay and feel supported to try something new.”
Their business partnership celebrates their opposing strengths and knowledge with the goal to offer “something spectacular” to the growing art community in Bend. “I have known for a while that I wanted to start a business and would need a business partner,” Dickson said. “Since the eighth grade, I have loved the word ‘synergy’ and what it meant. I knew that’s what I wanted to name a business.”
Evansen specializes in crystalline glazes and beautiful vase forms. Dickson is drawn towards the more functional side of pottery — creating travel mugs, flower vases, dish sets and everything in between.
Synergy Ceramics offers five-week classes, memberships and date night workshops. “We both bring different skills to the table and the studio allows us to bring our skills together to benefit our students,” Evansen said. “We allow our students to go whatever direction they want with learning how to work with and shape their clay.”
Dickson encourages people to try a new art form by learning how to work with clay. “Doing something for yourself can be extremely gratifying and healthy,” Dickson said. “The studio is a great place to meet people and be a part of the growing art community in Bend.”
Both Dickson and Evansen have learned their individual techniques from other ceramic artists. Dickson credits a great high school teacher who encouraged her love of ceramics by opening the classroom to allow her extra practice time.
While earning her associate degree in business from Central Oregon Community College, she took “one last ceramics class” that led to her being hired as the kiln and fire technician for the COCC studio. She also assisted teaching classes at Pottery by Yvonne in Tumalo. When the pandemic caused things to close in the spring of 2020, she bought a kiln and pottery wheel and began teaching classes in her garage, where she met Evansen, who was eager to move to Bend from Portland.
Working in a solo studio, Evansen felt his creativity being stifled. He enjoys bringing nature into his work, echoing the shapes and colors he discovers in his outdoor adventures. His work reflects the geometry found in life like the radial symmetry of sunflowers.
While their individual artistic styles differ, Evansen and Dickson share the philosophy of providing a safe and welcoming studio for people to let go of their daily struggles.
In separate interviews, they both said when working with clay, it’s hard to be caught in negative thought patterns or stress because the focus is on just how to work with the clay.
Dickson said the studio has been a “great community builder.” “We see people who take our classes become friends who meet for dinner before classes, plan hikes and do other activities together,” Dickson said. “I think people are looking for something stress-free to do that lets them unwind.”
Dickson and Evansen are grateful to witness the countless ‘aha’ moments when students understand how to guide and form the clay and to see their students enjoy playing with the clay. “A great deal of failure happens when people are throwing clay on the wheel,” Evansen said. “Failure is part of the process of learning and letting go to feel what is going to happen with the clay.”
Owning a business specializing in ceramics is a dream come true for both Evansen and Dickson. They are grateful to their students and members for their support. “We didn’t want to do pottery alone,” Dickson said. “We enjoy sharing the experience and knowledge with the community. Doing what we love just makes it easier to foster an inviting, inclusive workspace for everyone who steps in the door.”
1900 NE Division Street, • Suite 108 in Bend
Visit synergyceramicsbend.com to learn about classes, workshops, memberships and more.
They will have a booth at the NW Crossing Farmers’ Market starting in June.