Southern Star Studio

180 Cleveland Avenue, Athens, GA 30601** 706.248.6899


Although originally built as a house around 1900, the building has served as both a metal fabricating shop for an HVAC business and as a wood shop for making Montessori school materials, before becoming a pottery studio.  Maria Dondero and her husband, Clyde Yates, purchased the studio building from Glenn Dillard, Jr. in 2014.  Mr. Dillard's grandfather started Dillard Coal Company during the Great Depression, selling Southern Star Coal for Athens residents to heat their homes.  Dillard Coal Co. was located right next to the railroad tracks, with their own rail spur for unloading coal.  At one point, a coin-operated coal dispenser near the road boasted its product for sale day and night.  As coal fell out of fashion, Dillard Coal Co. transitioned to HVAC, at which point they purchased the neighboring house and began using it to fabricate the metal ducts necessary for forced-air heating and cooling.  Waseca Biomes moved in to both buildings after Mr. Dillard retired, and for 15 years they ran a wood shop in the building - crafting the materials to support their Montessori curriculum.

In December 2015, Dondero started the task of cleaning and renovating the building - cleaning accumulated sawdust from crevices, adding doors and windows to let in more light, and painting, painting, and painting.  Some of the first tenant artists pitched in with the work and on February 1st, 2016 Southern Star Studio was open and the first 6 artists began moving in and making pots!

 Southern Star Studio

In the short time that the space has been open as a community studio, it has quickly come to fill a void in work space for ceramic artists in Athens.  The large floor plan of the old house accommodates 6 working potters, along with room for teaching small classes and private lessons. Monthly gatherings of local potters meet to chat, organize and help each other solve pottery problems in their own work.  Two large studio sales a year are held to display and sell the tenants current work.  The rest of the year, the gallery is open by appointment.  People are welcome to come visit and check out the space during regular work hours.  There are typically 2 or 3 folks around working that can show you around. 

Maria Dondero
(marmalade pottery)
Jenna Johnson
(Pots By Jen)
Dondero received her MFA from UGA in 2008, and has been a full time potter and teacher ever since. Her pots tell stories with loose imagery that add warmth and depth to the surface.  She exhibits nationally and internationally, and her pots are represented by galleries around the country. Jenna Johnson gradated with a BFA in ceramics from the University of Georgia. Her pots are primarily functional and are sold wholesale to coffee shops around the state. When she's not making mugs, Jenna creates slab built, nest-like vessels used for home and garden décor.
Chona Reyes Leathers Allya Macdonald
Native of San Francisco and transplant to Athens, has been experimenting and working with clay since 2013. Applying her years of design and technology background into a new creative outlet. Focused on simple and thoughtful designs that is also functional and modular. All pieces are made to be used everyday. A Midwestern/Southern hybrid who has lived in Georgia most of her life. Both cultures have influenced her life and work. The serene snow-covered landscapes of Wisconsin and the funky rolling hills and antebellum architecture of the South have fused in her imagination and make their way into her work.
regina"" kerry
Regina Mandell
(forged & found)
Kerry Steinberg
After years in the fashion and design industry Philadelphia native Regina Mandell relocated to Athens, Ga, switched gears and found a new passion in clay. In 2014 she launched her pottery line, Forged & Found which can currently be found in small, independent boutiques nationwide as well as online on her website, Kerry is a Spanish Instructor at the University of Georgia and the mother of an 8 month old. She spends the little free time she has at the studio. Kerry makes functional pottery, using underglazes to create details and images that make each piece unique.