☰ Main Menu

About the Founder


 See Melissa’s Ceramic Art Here:

"Catch" Series "Control?" graduate Show Vessels Series MTL - Gallery 3 (Additional Samples)

melissa-with kaiMelissa Thomson, the owner of The Ceramics Studio, in San Juan Capistrano, is impressively familiar with all types of clay bodies and their potentials, but relishes in experimenting endlessly with glazes and organic materials. Venture into the back room of the studio, and you’ll find a series of bags containing a strange array of nature’s best; sawdust, cow manure, seaweed from local beaches, and dirt samples collected on road trips from here to the State of Washington. Her most prized “specimen” is a jumbo-size mayonnaise jar full of ash from the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Most of these back-room materials are employed during the studio’s beach pit firings.

Her love for the beach and pottery collide for one of her specialty techniques: the “Beach Pit Fire”

Students take their pre-fired pots to the local beach. Instruction is provided in the wrapping of ingredients around unglazed pots which are then carefully positioned in the pit fire. When the objects are shaken from the ashes the following morning and buffed, they reveal strikingly beautiful marks and colors!

A dedicated teacher

Melissa takes great joy in showing others the remarkable interactions between natural elements that result from shaping and firing. Children and animals are especially drawn to her quiet demeanor and she, in turn, draws joy and energy from their honesty, uninhibited curiosity and willingness to let their creativity run wild.

* Melissa L. Thomson has taught art for over twenty years in every venue from preschool thru the university level. She earned her Masters in Fine Art in Ceramics from Cal State University, Northridge, and her Master of Arts from Pepperdine University. Each summer, she teaches the kids at Mission San Juan Capistrano’s Ceramics Camp, in addition to her own class offerings held at The Ceramics Studio. She is also the official ceramics instructor for the Dana Point Community Center.


2011 – present – The Ceramics Studio, San Juan Capistrano, CA
Founder, Manager, Instructor

2009-Present Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA
Director of Ceramics
Developing and teaching courses in ceramics, firing, upkeep of the studio

2008 Sawdust Winter Festival, Laguna Beach, CA
Assistant Manager
Demonstrated and instructed the public regarding elementary throwing skills

2008 California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Teaching Associate
Taught Three-Dimensional Design

2007 Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA
Teaching Assistant
Aided the ceramics instructor in teaching beginning students

2007 California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Teaching Assistant
Aided the ceramics professor in teaching the upper-division students

2005-2006 California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Teaching Laboratory Assistant
Aided the ceramics professor in teaching the students
General upkeep of materials and loaded and fired kilns

2003-2005 Roger Barkley Community Center, La Canada, CA
Ceramics Instructor, Kiln Technician
Instructed adults of all levels the principles and concepts of ceramics
Loaded and fired multiple gas, electric, and raku kilns as well as oversaw ceramic workshops

2002-2005 Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA
Laboratory Assistant / Ceramics Tutor
Loaded and fired student works in gas, electric and raku kilns
Aided in the formulation of glazes
Taught special needs students the basics of ceramics
1998 – 2002 Tierra Del Sol Foundation, Sunland, CA
Ceramics Instructor, Exhibit Coordinator
Taught developmentally disabled adults the fundamentals of ceramics
Developed curriculum specific to the student body accommodating a wide range of abilities and interests
Coordinated, installed, and curated in excess of forty national exhibitions and fundraisers

2001 – 2002 Handmade Galleries, Sherman Oaks, CA
Ceramic Artist, Vendor
Created unique ceramic works and marketed them for sale


2005-2009 Master of Fine Arts, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics •3.85 cumulative GPA
Studied under Patsy Cox, Kim Abeles, and Samantha Fields

2002-2005 Certificate in Ceramics, Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA
Specializations: ceramics, laboratory upkeep, and glaze formulation •3.87 GPA
Studied with: Robert Kibler, Mark Poore, Roger Porter, Edward O’Reilly,
Melody Cooper, and Richard McColl

2003-2004 Student Teaching in Ceramics, Glendale High School, CA
Aided the instructor, Christine Rose, in teaching and overseeing ceramic students

1992-1997 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
Major in Art •3.65 Major GPA
Specializations: ceramics, painting, and art history
Studied with: Susan Shutt Wulfeck, Joseph Piasentin, and Sonia Sorrell

1993 – 1994 Florence, Italy
Nine-month collegiate study of drawing, art, history, literature, music, languages, cultures, and travel in Europe during residence in Florence


2008 Teaching Associate Grant, tuition waiver for one semester at California State University, Northridge

2004-2006 The National Dean’s List, which recognizes academic excellence among college students

31878 Del Obispo, Suite 106 (3 doors to right of Marshalls) San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 ● melissa@theceramicsstudio.com | KABBO Theme by: D5 Creation | Powered by: WordPress