For many, pottery is a form of expression, a way to relieve stress, or a break from our hyper-connected world. Domingo Olavarria (known to many as “Mingo”) delved into pottery to pass the time following a biking accident in 2017. “After the first class, I was hooked,” he recalls.
Though he was trained as a filmmaker in his native Venezuela and pursued a culinary arts career, pottery quickly became his priority, Olavarria says.“Pottery was all I could think about. All the clothes I owned had clay on them, my car had a constant layer of clay dust on it, and my fingernails were always dirty with brown or white clay, but I didn’t care. I had discovered something new and fresh that felt right.”
His first studio was in a small shack behind the house he was living in, but he later rented space in the MASS District in Fort Lauderdale and began doing pottery production for restaurants and coffee shops. After a lot of encouragement from his friends, Olavarria began teaching others how to make pottery. “Sharing this passion and imparting knowledge was very rewarding, and I wanted to do it more,” he says.
Today, Olavarria operates his namesake Mingo Makes It pottery studio off NE 13th Street, offering classes on the wheel and in sculpting. There are intro classes, six-week courses, and memberships with unlimited access to the equipment. He also sells artisan goods from brands like The Blithe Co. and Blunomad clothing. “I’ve made it my mission to [make] pottery accessible to as many people as possible,” he says. “That’s why we are the most affordable privately owned studio in South Florida.”