INDIAN LAND — For local artist Debbie Whitsett, the move to Fort Mill Township was a chance to join a new community.
I have been trying to break into the art community in Fort Mill, she said. Whitsett recently entered the Strawberry Festival poster competition and was a finalist.
Whitsett moved from Charlotte, where she taught clay classes in her home studio, to Fort Mill nearly 18 months ago. She opened her new studio and business, Olives Mud Puddle, in Indian Land in August. Whitsetts studio is named after her favorite and smartest pet duck, Olive. I like whimsy, fun stuff, Whitsett said.
Her uncle and grandfather are also artists. Whitsett is self-taught and said she has been painting and drawing since her childhood.
When her son was younger, Whitsett took a clay class in Charlotte and found her new calling.
Ive been working with (clay) ever since, she said.
Whitsett teaches clay classes, holds birthday parties and works on commission pieces at her studio. Whitsett likes to paint, but mainly focuses on clay work. Recently, she fulfilled her dream of making statues when she was commissioned to work on an Alice in Wonderland-themed garden statue.
I like 3-D work, she said.
Whitsetts classes offer students a chance to make any piece they want.
I enjoy introducing people to working with clay and keeping [the art] alive, she said. There arent many places where people can go and make what they want out of clay.
Whitsett was teaching five students a week, some of whom followed her from Charlotte. Since moving to Fort Mill, Whitsett has gained three more students. While her students are mainly adults, Whitsett holds birthday parties where children can make and paint their own clay pieces.
It seems to be a big hit, she said. Everyone always enjoys it and wants to come back.