Filling vacant spaces with art and fun

Students hard at work at Tuesday’s class.

If you’re a fan of getting your hands dirty, trying new things and going home with a new homemade treasure, ceramic classes on Devonport Road could be the thing for you.

The Pottery Studio has filled the vacant old Glassons building, and taken an empty space and filled it with life, art and colour, as part of the Activate Vacant Spaces initiative.

The initiative is being run by Downtown Tauranga to try and revitalise the downtown shopping area while renting spaces out to those who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to utilise such a space.

The pottery classes are a fantastic way to get hands-on with clay and make something of your own.

Tutor Penny Cass will give students a lump of clay, a few guidelines and techniques, then leave them to get creative and make whatever their heart fancies.

Classes run for about two hours and the price covers everything – from the clay and paint used to make your creation right through to Penny’s time and expertise, firing in the kiln and glazing your finished product.

Penny says her class prices of just $30 are a way of giving back.

“The property owner and Activate Vacant Spaces is renting this space to me at a reduced rate,” she says, “so I wanted to keep my class fees low, as a way to say: ‘thank you’.”

Class participants have created anything and everything, from a hand-stamped mug, a fruit bowl and a flower vase right through to geese garden ornaments and a hanging bee watering station.

As an ex-tourism worker, Penny says the gallery and workshop is her ‘pivot’.

“The government told us working in tourism to pivot, so this is what I did.

“The classes have been really popular and I’d love to rent this space more long-term in the future.”

Penny runs day classes, ‘wine and clay’ evenings, private parties and more.

She’ll be in the old Glassons building, at 21 Devonport Road, for the foreseeable future.

To see her class schedules and for more information on her pottery, visit:

For more information on Downtown Tauranga’s Activate Vacant Spaces initiative, visit: or:


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