Toros Pottery crafts ceramics and community in Eagle Rock

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Toros Tngrian, owner, in front of his creations at Toros Pottery in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 30, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

Toros Pottery has been an unwavering facet of Eagle Rock for over 20 years. Founded in 2000 by Toros Tngrian, the shop is a hub for handmade art and pottery classes. Instruction takes place each week and allows artists to learn new skills, Tngrian said, but Toros began as a business to sell his art and practice pottery.

“This is not as much of a money-making business, it is more of a passion,” Tngrian said.

Tngrian said he came to the U.S. at age 19 and then returned to his home country of Armenia to earn an art degree. Tngrian said he came back to the U.S. with hopes of pursuing an artistic career. Now, he said, his pottery classes allow people to connect and create.

“If you go in here, you will feel that the whole atmosphere is homey,” Tngrian said. “It’s like a big family.”

The front of the shop is a gallery, displaying handmade clay planters, mugs, sinks, lamps and other decorative items.

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Pottery at Toros Pottery in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 30, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

According to Tngrian, classes are held at the back of the store, where pottery wheels, clay presses, scoring and slipping tools and endless stacks of clay fill the space.

Emphasizing sustainability and recycling, Tngrian said he makes sure to collect scraps from clay projects and add them to containers for later use. Tngrian said that during the summer months, when the AC is running, he places a bucket under the AC where condensation drips to collect water for use while working with clay.

“We recycle everything. Nothing goes to waste. I am obsessed with recycling and not being wasteful,” Tngrian said. “We have no rain from the drought, and problems with global warming. It’s important to do anything you can to recycle.”

The process of producing a clay piece takes about a month from start to finish, Tngrian said. After developing the design and making it, he said items are put through a lengthy process before they are ready to take home. Tngrian said he uses one kiln for clay items that have been glazed, and another for items that have not. After the clay pieces have been fired once, Tngrian said they are then glazed and added to the second kiln. According to Tngrian, for just one firing, it takes clay pieces 16 hours to bake.

In addition to teaching and selling art, Tngrian said he has frequently been hired as a consultant for movies and shows being filmed at studios in LA. According to Tngrian, his art is sold to production sets as props. In December 2021, Tngrian said he was hired to help members of the cast and crew for the show “United States of Al” to accurately depict pottery-making scenes.

“Many people don’t know how to work with clay. I’m here to assist how you hold your hands and change your posture when working on the wheel,” Tngrian said.

Earlier this year Katie Schottland said she began taking classes from Tngrian. Schottland, who is originally from New York, said that she decided to take pottery classes after watching “The Great Pottery Throw Down.”

“This is a nice side activity to do. It’s a different kind of creating,” Schottland said. “It’s nice to get your hands messy and build stuff.”

Mondays are class days for formal instruction. Fridays are open studio days, where people come during store hours to work on their pottery. Schottland said she and a group meet on Friday afternoons and work on their clay creations together.

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Ceramicists, including Katie Schottland (right), enjoy open Friday at Toros Pottery in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 30, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

“It’s nice that it’s this little community. It’s a small studio and you get to know people and make pottery friends,” Schottland said.

Rose Braunstein said she has been going to Toros Pottery for a year now. Braunstein said she came to Toros to learn how to make planters for the cacti and succulents she sells; now, she said, the classes have provided her with a new sense of affinity.

“There are a lot of things that I like about it, mainly community,” Braunstein said. “I hurt my arm and I couldn’t throw. Everybody was helping me out and wedging for me. This sounds cheesy, but it’s soothing for my soul.”

Toros Pottery hours change depending on the day of the week and can be found here. The shop is located at 4962 Eagle Rock Blvd.

Contact Olivia Correia at ocorreia@oxy.edu.