WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | MAGIC MUD CERAMICS
Amanda Claus is the sole owner and artistic creator at Magic Mud Ceramics just outside of Ludington. Her creative streak started when she was young. While in elementary school, she used modeling clay to create all kinds of toys and trinkets during recess, and at home, she cut up old socks to make clothes for her Barbie dolls. In high school, Claus was drawn to pottery classes and discovered that she had a natural gift for the craft. Enjoying the class so much, she decided to pursue pottery as a career, until her teachers convinced her to focus on something else. In college, she rediscovered her love for pottery and soon began creating pieces as gifts for family and friends. It wasn’t long before requests started rolling in for her to create special items for sale.
In 2008, Claus lost her day job to downsizing so she decided to return to school to obtain her bachelors in Business Administration. At the same time, she thought, “What the heck, I lost my job; maybe it’s time to start my own business.”
Her first step was to open her own Etsy shop. She started slowly, working out of her parents’ pole barn. As her business grew, she graduated to statewide craft shows. Claus realized that she really could make a living as an artist. Validation came with a call from Etsy in 2010. They had partnered with HGTV to create the “15 Fresh Handmade Gift Ideas” list. Etsy handpicked her one-of-a-kind garden marker stakes for their list. She packed up samples of her garden stakes and sent them off to Etsy and HGTV for promo photos. Seeing her creation on national TV was both surreal and exciting, especially since the garden stakes had been a happy accident that came about as the result of her own gardening needs. While planting her garden, she needed a way to mark the various plants, so she created stakes. She shared them in her Etsy shop, not realizing what a hit they would become.
Magic Mud continued to grow, and, in 2014, Claus and her partner Christopher Piper purchased a home on 12 acres near Ludington. They converted the walkout basement into a combination studio and retail location and opened for business in 2018. Now open year round, customers can visit, peruse her wares, and take home one-of-a-kind pieces.
Claus finds it difficult to put a name to the style of pottery she creates. For her, it’s about taking the clay in her hands and seeing what comes from it. If the resulting piece of art is something she loves or the public responds well to, she creates more. She doesn’t cater to trends, choosing to stay true to herself, knowing that the right people will come along and appreciate her unique style.
At Magic Mud, Michigan-themed items are the most popular, but other items like her trinket bowls are bestsellers as well. The bowls are versatile and not intended for just one specific use. Claus prefers that purchasers use them for anything they see fit. She especially enjoys making her salt and pepper cellar sets and one-of-a-kind wine stoppers. They are special, for sure!
From bowls made with the leaves of rhubarb and hydrangea plants grown on their farm to spoon rests, wall art, and serving trays, Magic Mud is full of surprises. Since every item is handmade, nothing is ever quite the same. Claus likes to think that every customer has purchased a little something that no other human being will ever have, and that is pretty cool in her world.
Magic Mud Ceramics
5455 W. Hesslund Rd.
Ludington MI 49431
231-907-1258 l MagicMudCeramics.com