By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Passion, creativity and inspiration characterize a new workshop enriched with endless possibilities at 321 5th Avenue in downtown Attalla.
After a three to four-year hiatus, Etowah County welcomes its very own ceramic shop with Kickin’ It Up Creations – a place molded from years of imagination as a home for one woman’s dream.
Owner Sherrie Ingram never considered herself an artist. The Southside High School graduate and former accountant major’s first introduction to the world of ceramics came in college, when she discovered the basics of a distant universe she would soon grow to understand. From hand-building to manipulating a pottery wheel to designing her own teapot, Ingram’s ceramics course enlightened her to a thought she rarely considered before: the possibility that she herself could produce beautiful, imaginative and endless creations.
“I found my different path,” said Ingram. “It was night and day going from business to art, when I never really thought I had any art inside of me. A little part in my brain clicked to say, ‘You are creative. You can do this.’ It just kind of awoke.”
A Navy wife for a number of years and a mother of five, Ingram traveled frequently with her family, most recently living in Missouri. After a neighbor purchased ceramic molds and began teaching Ingram the process, she slowly accumulated her own, even gaining her own pottery wheel. While a change in circumstances resulted in Ingram’s separation from her passion for a short while, in the past two years her creativity regenerated, and she started gathering her tools once more in the hopes of opening a shop one day.
“From then on, I just wanted to make anything I could,” said Ingram. “It transpired into Kickin’ It Up Creations. I’m always learning and taking classes. I’m working or watching a ceramic painting video or learning how to build something out of clay. [I want to discover] what I can teach, what I can share with people.”
That day arrived on February 1, 2021, when Kickin’ It Up Creations debuted in downtown Attalla, receiving an outpouring of community support. Less than 24 hours from Ingram’s initial post regarding her shop, 7,500 people viewed the news, culminating in 9,500 by the end of the week. The excitement has yet to cease, with Ingram hosting numerous painting parties and welcoming customers into her peaceful and comforting second home each week.
While Ingram hosts painting classes for any age, she offers a full-service ceramic workplace, complete with endless molds and a kiln. Ingram begins with liquid clay, which she pours into a plaster mold to sit for about 15 minutes to absorb the water from the liquid clay. When the clay hardens, it adheres to the inside of the mold, leaving a hollow space when Ingram pours off the excess. Once ready to be removed from the mold, Ingram allows the piece to sit, transitioning from dark grey to light grey greenware until ready for firing in the kiln.
Once the kiln hardens the piece and turns it bisque, it is ready for painting. Ingram offers acrylic paints with a spray seal or a glaze coating that covers the piece with a glass coating, hardening the piece further and ensuring that it is safe for food or external elements. In addition to painting and ceramics, Ingram offers sewing lessons with her inhouse machine.
Ingram embraces all customer ideas, sharing her desire that visitors adopt the shop as their own. Her comforting nature releases a sense of freedom that encompasses the environment, where she includes individuals in the creative process. Ingram not only provides people with lessons and guidance concerning their vision, she nurtures that vision alongside them, encouraging them to participate in its manifestation. In her shop, individuals gain more than a piece of pottery, but an experience – a physical representation of beloved memories individuals can treasure forever.
“I want people to come in and make it their own shop,” said Ingram. “Whatever you want to do, you can do. With this, you can make everything your own. Anything somebody comes in and says, ‘Let’s try this,’ [I’ll try.] I may not know how to do it, but I bet we can figure it out together!”
Ingram’s relaxed philosophy creates a balanced atmosphere, where visitors feel free to explore and attempt new things, without the pressure of perfection looming over them. If a piece blows up in the kiln, Ingram assures customers not to worry – she has the mold, they can simply begin again. If someone ‘messes up’ a piece, she can wipe off the paint and start afresh. Her workshop emphasizes no stress or complications, rather a space where creativity thrives.
“Come in and give it a try,” said Ingram. “Feel free to release that creative passion you have inside and try it. It’s okay to fail. It’s only paint. We can start over. We mess up, we get a do-over. We mess up, it’s okay. We can make things better. That’s the perfect thing.”
Ingram noted that life is far too short to worry about little things, a lesson her children taught her years ago. Her mission statement for the shop adopts these principles: “Find your passion, create something beautiful and inspire others to do the same.”
“I have stuff from my kids when they were little,” said Ingram. “That was the hardest thing when I first started [introducing them to art] was wanting them to stay in the lines. When you learn to release that, and let them do what they want, they get excited about it. They’re not under this little umbrella of ‘Oh, I’ve got to do this perfectly.’ [Instead] I can do it my way. That’s the way art should be. It’s so subjective. You do it your way. Whatever makes you feel good or whatever you’re passionate about, that’s what it’s there for. It’s something you create.”
As a former restaurant owner, Ingram understands the innerworkings of running a business with consistency and precision. She adores meeting new people, something she reflected on fondly during her years traveling with her family, when she tried to make each new move an adventure. Her love of exploration and her encouraging persona coincide in Kickin’ It Up Creations, which provides her with an outlet to share her passions with others as she inspires them to do the same.
Ingram shared that her personal creative process evolves as it unfolds, often developing into something different than she originally intended. Yet, above all, she enjoys witnessing the finished piece and seeing the expressions on customers’ faces when they view it for the first time.
As Ingram once discovered an artistry within herself she considered lost, the imaginative world she found provides her with the resources to help others along the way. Interested persons of all ages can take refuge in the knowledge that within the walls of Kickin’ It Up Creations, their creativity is free to soar, with joy and possibilities proving limitless.
“God has blessed me, so I want to bless others,” said Ingram. “I want to show them they can do it. Even if they don’t want to do it themselves, give me an idea and I can build on it. I just tell people when they come in, we’re starting off. As I grow my business, I want people to grow too. I think sometimes people are afraid to take that step, but I want them to be comfortable. I want them to say, ‘This is my shop, too.’ I can show them where it begins, and we’ll work together until it ends. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m glad to be able to offer that. Come grow with me.”
Kickin’ It Up Creations is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with additional hours to accommodate visitors. To schedule a party or lesson, visit Kickin’ It Up Creations on Facebook.