Visitors to Opryland have found a happy surprise that has nothing to do with the entertainment attractions of the park itself.
They found souvenirs they’re still going to love when they get home with them, mementos of a trip to Tennessee that aren’t gimmicks and don’t have labels reading “Made in Hong Kong,” or Japan or Taiwan.
Among these are small, useful pottery pitchers, goblets and weed pots made right here in Middle Tennessee at Lewis Snyder’s Studio S in Murfreesboro. And we have the feeling that if they know about Studio S and its easy accessibility tourists would add it to the list of attractions they plan to see during their visit to Nashville.
A Kiln in the Silo
by Clara Hieronymus
The Tennessean, Better Living Section.
Sunday, May 27, 1973.
For one thing, the studio is built into a dairy barn which originally accommodated 22 dairy cows and had both silos and a hay loft.
The Snyders bought the barn property in 1967—the 15-year old structure was, they learned, the third barn to occupy that site, its predecessors having burned—and began transforming the building into a pottery, showroom, galleries, and classroom space.
They found 40 doors and 50 windows stored in the loft which they cleared for a large studio, turning the assortment of wooden doors into outdoor tables and using the window glass in a big new window wall.
The walls of the studio space are covered with monks cloth to accommodate circulating art shows. Beyond it is a big room now used as a carpenter shop; above it is a third story which, in time, will become a painting studio.
A long room that originally had a row of milking stanchions is now a ceramics studio and throwing room where the Opryland items and other pots are formed. Back of this is the kiln room, with one kiln set in a silo. It was a blustery, windy day when this writer visited Studio S, and the noise in the silo was puzzling though not really unpleasant and meant only that the wind, with playful, insistent abandon, was clattering the tin roof that capped the silo.
There are two gas-fired kilns, four electric kilns and, outside, a raku kiln. Snyder bought the frame of one of the large kilns, with its 26 cubic feet of interior space to accommodate big commercial pots, from a Gatlinburg potter, and then rebuilt the inside to his own specifications.
The studio turns out slab-thrown, molded and wheel-thrown pieces. Snyder has two full-time interns. Snyder’s own work is primarily sculptural, as compared with the planters, hanging pots, tumblers, pitchers, vases, etc., produced in the main studio, although he designs and supervises this work.
He has plans to add a metal work shop, and a wood deck at back where glass blowing can be done.
Studio S, incidentally, uses clay from Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, blending them in various proportions for texture, malleability and color. The Opryland pieces, for example, have an identifiable color shade, plus a special Opryland banding motif.
Most of the first floor is used as a sales gallery and showroom, finished inside and out with western red cedar—Snyder estimates he has used nearly 5,000 board feet of the handsome wood which has been left unstained to weather naturally.
A fish pond and a sculpture garden at front are enclosed with a board fence. Mrs. Snyder, who serves as the studio manager, says the children ice-skated on the small pond last winter!
Snyder designed the remodeled barn, with the help of architect Morris Parker; his uncle, Aaron Snyder, did the carpentry.
An 18 by 10-foot window dramatizes the front of the structure. The clay and glass lanterns and special glass work in Studio S were done by Clay Hawes who is the technical director and drama instructor at MTSU and has his own glass crafts shop.
Children’s’ art classes on Saturday are taught by Linda Lane. Judy Chamberlain teaches pottery classes and works part-time as a potter. Full-time pottery interns are Richard Glaze and Bob Croy.
The public is invited to Studio S today from 1 to 5 p.m. for the opening of a two-man, month long exhibit of paintings by Michael Gibson and paintings and prints by Kathryn Nelson.
The work will remain up through June 23 and may be seen on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no admission charge.
To reach Studio S, go Nashville Highway (Murfreesboro Rd.) to the outskirts of Murfreesboro, then left on Battleground Dr. to Avon Rd. If you get lost, call the Snider’s at (615) 896-0798 for additional directions.