Open Clay Studio


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Tuesdays, 5:00-7:00 PM or by appointment Our professional and newly-revamped Open Clay Studio is complete with a full-size kiln, three pottery wheels, and an assortment of tools, and glazes. Open Clay Studio is available to Pump House members. Private lessons are available upon request.

Requirements & Registration

Pump House Membership Information, Renew or Join Online Studio Fees-  Trial: $20 | 1 Month: $25 | 6 Months: $135 | 1 Year: $200 Clay Purchase $20 for 25 lbs Pump House membership and studio fees may be made by phone, 608-785-1434, in person at the Pump House 119 King Street, La Crosse, WI or online. Clay may be purchased at the Pump House front desk. Please note that tuition is nonrefundable and nontransferable.

Meet Our Studio Manager

Geoffrey Simkins

Born: Long Beach, Ca. 1967

Passions: God, Family, Friends, Art, My Children.

I was privileged to be able to run a small farm in Arkansas and be home to raise my children. Our home in the country was, to me, the ideal setting to develop people who respect the wonders of our world. The natural resources and wildlife on our wooded property helped us all develop an appreciation for life and the opportunity to be caretakers of the many wonders our world has to offer.

My wife, Cathy, has always been a career minded person. I mean, ALWAYS. She says that, at age 7, she planned to be the owner and CEO of her own company one day. As an engineer she made it possible for me to create a balanced life for us that included a home life, parented children and an atmosphere that encouraged us to follow our passions. I am blessed to have such a wonderful life with her.

I became obsessed with pottery on a trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson Mo. In 2015. I was mesmerized by the potter at a studio located in the park. Roller coasters, blacksmiths, glass blowers, musical talents of all kinds were available to be seen. I spent my day watching a man turn a ball of mud into beautiful functional art. Absolutely miraculous. I was hooked.  I discovered a friend of mine had a pottery wheel in storage. She had not touched it in years. We pulled it out, cleaned it up and I went to work.  Visions of greatness turned into reality as I turned a ball of mud into a…less ball shaped mess. I was discouraged to say the least. I decided, that perhaps, a lesson or two might be in order. I found a person with a home studio that was giving beginning classes, his name was Peter.  After I completed 20 hours of classes Peter decided to move to South America to work with native clay. I still have to wonder if he didn’t become so frustrated with me that he felt that moving to another country was his best option. We will never know. Peter was able to take a lump of mud, me, and teach me enough to allow me to turn a ball of clay into something recognizable as a bowl, a mug, basic stuff.  After he left there was no one to guide me, so I practiced what I knew and searched for other mud enthusiasts.

In 2018 my wife’s career brought us to this fabulous hidden gem, La Crosse, Wisconsin. I have never been one for change.  It is an understatement to say that I was reluctant to leave my home and farm in the Hills of the Ozarks and move to the Frozen North. I’ll keep that part of the story short and just say that I adapted and overcame. I have to confess that I love it here.  I set up a small space in our basement to do pottery and continued practicing. A conversation with a new neighbor let to my discovery of The Pump House Open Clay Studio. I found that creating things with my hands was not the only joy of the art. The social aspect of the studio was a bit of salvation for me.  I had raised my children, now in college and moved to a new town where I knew absolutely no one. Empty Nest Syndrome compounded with the solitude of a new life in a new place. Things got real for me.  I had done nothing but raise my children for the past 20 years. I didn’t know how to function without that responsibility. I found that the studio at The Pump House created an atmosphere where people of many artistic talents could come together and share, learn and teach each other. I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing social and artistic resource.  I soon found myself wanting to be more involved. Learning to operate the studio and finding myself wanting to help it grow.  I am going to teach a class or two. I am drawing on the talents of others to do the same.  Were a community of various talents with one common thread, we express ourselves through art.

Sharing the Love

When I tell people that I work with clay I get the same response, time after time. “I have always wanted to try that.” Whether it’s throwing on the wheel and building with your hands, you probably see the value of pottery. It embodies self-expression and creation. We find, through art, a way to express who we are without using words.

I will never call myself accomplished or skilled at pottery. I am of the opinion that there is always room to learn, to grow and improve.  When we stop learning we stop growing. That’s not for me.

I would like to encourage anyone who managed to make it all the way to the end of this story to find a way to express yourself, grow, learn, share and most of all, make art!  You will never regret the experience.


Additional information


Clay Studio Trial, 1 Month, 6 Months, 1 Year, Bag of Clay

Clay Studio Trial

Clay Studio Trial