When Julie Papas opened the ClayNation studio in 2004, she was out of college for less than a year. With schools cutting back on art and music programs and adult stress levels at an all-time high, Julie was excited to offer an outlet for creative arts on the North Shore.  A Locust Valley native and Glen Cove transplant, she is thrilled to offer this community a space where people of all ages and creative talents can walk in any time and make art in a fresh, fun, energetic space. As our adjacent neighbor and host of many a Rising Tide Staff Night Out, we love ClayNation, and were excited to chat with Julie about this neighborhood gem.

RT: First…what is it about creating art that makes people feel so darn good?
CN: Aside from the myriad of studies that show creating art releases endorphins, reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), and awakens the senses, making art in this current time of stress, screens, and hyper-busy schedules in some way forces the maker to relax and connect. When I look around the studio, no one is looking at their phone, typing on computers, youtubing, blogging, or staring like a zombie at a TV screen. People are interacting—they’re talking, listening to music, engaging in their project, and relaxing. Creating something from start to finish and then admiring the project at its completion…that feeling of pride is amazing.

RT: What sets ClayNation apart from its competitors?
CN: We have the BEST staff. Our employees love the studio and treat everyone who comes here like family. I have employees that have stayed with me for 5, 7, even 10-plus years. The customers have personal relationships with the staff and it’s an amazing community feeling in the shop.

RT: What’s it like running a small business in Glen Cove? Do you find the community to be supportive?
CN: I am so happy I made the decision to open ClayNation in Glen Cove 15 years ago. The community has been everything. People were very supportive of this concept right from the beginning and have continued to support us to this day. Kids that we had as campers return as young adults to work in the studio and inspire the next generation of artists. We have a group of women that have attended our Tuesday night adult night for all the years we have been open. We are so happy to be here.

RT: What are your most popular programs for children? Adults?
CN: The bulk of our success is in the walk-in studio, open and available for people to come create 7 days a week. Kids (and their parents) love our drop-off programming during school breaks and in the summertime. We run a “Second Saturday Workshop” for adults where we teach different new techniques. Our Tuesday night “Paint & Sip” adult night is always a good time.

RT: What’s new at ClayNation?
CN: We always have the wheels turning! New this month is a retail section where we plan to sell a wide range of art supplies (paint, colored pencils, markers, paper, and more). We will be building this up for the next few weeks and looking for feedback from the community about what types of supplies they may want to be able to purchase locally. Also, coming this Summer we will have walk-in wood sign painting (staining, stenciling, and distressing wooden board art).

RT: What’s something fun that most people don’t know about ClayNation?
CN: We LOVE dogs. Next time you come to pick up your artwork, bring your pup to visit us!

RT: As one of our closest neighbors, I have to ask: What’s your favorite thing to eat from Rising Tide? What are your go-to’s (lunch, snacks, drinks, wellness products, or other)?
CN: Here’s the list of my go-to Ri-Ti foods: Vegan Spring Rolls, Rising Tide’s Kung Pao Bowls, Unreal Crispy Peanut Butter Cups, Late July Nacho Chipotle Chips, and pretty much ANY Soup of the Day! I ate the Rising Tide Soup of the Day for lunch every day for about 8 months straight. I’ve pretty much tried them all and they are ALL AMAZING, but my fave is Tuscan Bean.

Visit ClayNation at 38 Forest Avenue (rear building). Studio hours are Monday-Friday from 1-8; Tuesday from 1-10 (adults only 6-10); Saturday 12-8; and Sunday 12-5.