Apprentice DaysLeslie Nieto, Owner - I grew up in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, where I first started my studio. I discovered an interest in clay with a pottery class I took in Jr. High School. It was just basic hand building techniques, like slab and coil work, but it was enough to plant a seed. The first time I had access to a pottery wheel, I was in High School. After my very first session on the potter's wheel, I was hooked! I began going every day to practice, and spent as much time as I could in the school's ceramics room. Working in clay became my passion and even then, I knew I wanted to be a potter.
After High School, I wasn’t really sure what one would do to become a professional potter. There was no set rule or recipe that I had ever heard of. It wasn’t like, go to college for four years, get a degree, voila you are a pro. So, I called around every place in the phone book that mentioned the word “pottery”, looking for work and a place to learn. I was lucky enough to find a studio that could use my help, and I went to work as a potter's apprentice.
The Mud Place began in my heart well before I even knew I wanted to try and run a business, and I am so grateful for the chance. It started as a late-night conversation where I said something like "I think I might get a potter's wheel - just for fun". It was really just a dream that grew. Today I work from my Melbourne, Florida studio, where I design, produce and teach pottery. I am constantly working at improving my craft. While it isn't all just playing in the mud, I really love my job.

TimJarvis ThrowingTims pots2Tim Jarvis, Potter/Instructor - Tim began working in clay at a mere 13 years of age and has been making pots ever since. "The feeling of the clay in my hands continues to enthrall me to this day." His start was in production pottery and he has spent considerable time studying Raku under different masters. His true passion is in sharing pottery making skills with others as a pottery instructor. He specializes in all aspects of the Raku process. Tim is an integral part of our pottery production team and our premier class instructor. You can find out which classes he will be teaching next on our class schedule page.



Nikki smNikki Wiener, Assistant - Nikki started her journey as a working artist in the leather studio, co-founding Native Sand Leather. She decided to take on new challenges and one was to expand her medium working knowledge with clay. While her primary role at The Mud Place is as an assistant (she helps us get all of our shipments out on time), she also enjoys helping in all aspects of the process. She is especially fond of waxing and glazing.



 Interested in joining our team? We are always looking for qualified people who share our love of clay. Tell us about yourself on our jobs page.