Three times a week throughout the year a small group of Islanders heads to Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs for a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

On Sunday, a handful of regular visitors to the center’s long-running open pottery studio quietly hung up their coats at the studio entrance and took up their projects, started new ones or just stopped by to pick up their finished work from a shelf in the back.

Tools of the trade. — Ivy Ashe

Boxes, baskets and buckets around the room held hundreds of tools, and tall shelves lining the studio featured all types of bowls and cups at varying stages of completion. Everything was covered in a fine layer of clay, indicating that nothing here was ever quite finished.

Phill Kim, a manager at the Behind the Bookstore cafe in Edgartown, started attending the open studios in April as a way to take his mind off of work and other daily concerns.

“Whenever I wasn’t at the cafe I would be at the ceramics studio,” he said in a phone conversation. “Now that I’ve gotten a lot more serious about it, I’ve gotten my own personal wheel, so I go a little bit less, but I still go to check in.” He stopped in briefly on Sunday to pick up some recent work.

As with many others, the open pottery studio has allowed Mr. Kim to take on creative projects while juggling other responsibilities like a job or a family. Featherstone provides the equipment and space for $5 per hour and $1 per pound of clay, and will fire your creations in one of three electric kilns for a fee based on the size and quantity of the pieces.

Sarah Gruner shaves the clay. — Ivy Ashe

“We basically have everything here for the novice who walks in the door,” said Carl Mueller, a retired urban designer who along with retired art professor Nancy Blank runs the open studios.

“And they can make whatever they want,” he said. “It could be something functional, it could be an art piece, it’s up to you. That’s why it’s called open studio. It’s whatever you want to do.”

The open studios are not intended to be classes, Mr. Mueller said, although he and Ms. Blank may offer some level of instruction for newcomers. For those interested in more involved instruction, Featherstone offers regular ceramics classes throughout the year.

Ms. Blank, a former adjunct professor through the University of Maryland, was instrumental in getting the open pottery studio off the ground about eight years ago. She also teaches regular drawing and ceramics classes at the center.

Getting to know the clay. — Ivy Ashe

The open studios take place Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, and on any given day there may be anywhere from four to 10 people in the studio, often with all eight potter’s wheels spinning.

“Everyone is interested in taking a crack at the wheel,” Mr. Mueller said.

Sarah Gruner had never touched a piece of clay before she started attending the open studios three years ago, but she jumped on the wheel her first night.

Within a few minutes on Sunday she had made a wide, perfectly round bowl and was carefully separating it from the wheel using a taut wire. “It’s not really hard,” she said of the process. “It just takes you a while before you stop being scared of the clay.”

To be bisqued or not to be bisqued. — Ivy Ashe

“At first you save everything,” she added. “You make these awful things and you are so proud, and you save everything, and then it ends up at the Dumptique.” Some people sell their work, while others keep it for their personal use or give it to friends.

Jennifer Langhammer, another regular, usually foregoes the wheel and focuses on sculpture. She said the only time she throws pottery is during the annual Potter’s Bowl fundraiser in August. Money raised from the sale of soup (and the bowls it is served in) supports the pottery studio.

Ms. Langhammer’s current piece resembles a large coconut with grey fans that appear to be growing out of it like a fungus, and is part of a series based on the idea of symbiosis. A group show that includes an installation by Ms. Langhammer opens Friday at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

As a former art student, Ms. Langhammer wanted to keep making art, but do it in a way that didn’t interfere with her everyday life. She said the open studio was affordable and didn’t require a rigid commitment. “So I just started coming here to work,” she said. “It’s too hard to work at home.”

What the potter saw. — Ivy Ashe

Other visitors on Sunday had similar reasons for attending.

“I actually just moved here and I haven’t done clay in a really long time,” said Susan Pratt, a former art major who began attending this fall. “You kind of need a lot of equipment, so to do it at your house is a little more challenging.” Her most recent creations – a set of rustic turquoise and brown mugs – will make holiday gifts.

Things usually pick up at the studio in the weeks before Christmas, Mr. Mueller said.

Ms. Langhammer and her young daughter Connecticut attend every year on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving to make Christmas tree ornaments. The Wednesday studios are open to kids with adult supervision.

For Mr. Kim, the open studio has also been an avenue back into the world of pottery. He was deeply involved in ceramics in high school, but later went to college to study photography. He is now about to launch an e-commerce site, which will feature his own line of ceramics.

“Since I’ve been in the coffee world for a while, my cups cater to very specific coffee-sized drinks,” he said. He expected the new website to be up in the next couple of weeks.

Part of what draws Mr. Kim to the ceramics medium is its strong connection to the earth. He pointed out that clay is essentially dirt, and that when fired it becomes stone.

“At the moment when I’m making something, and I’m throwing something — whether it’s a certain album I’m listening to, or certain thoughts and feelings are going on in my head — it’s actually setting those emotions in stone, which is really cool,” he said.

For a full schedule of Featherstone art classes and open pottery studios, visit