Founded in 1974 by five artists in need of workspace, The Clay Studio was envisioned as a stepping stone for students fresh out of art school, offering affordable studio space and shared equipment. Within a short time, however, Clay Studio artists consciously shifted the Studio's mission from an inward focus to an outward educational and community focus. It was the artists' intention to affirm the importance of the ceramic arts alongside other art forms, as well as to bring clay as an accessible, tactile medium to a broad range of people. In 1979, the Studio became a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational institution.
As the Studio grew, the artists, staff, and Board of Directors began to design programs with the goal of building a wide-ranging ceramic art community. Today the Studio's programs are geared toward promoting access to the ceramic arts, at all levels of interest and proficiency, from practicing professionals to disenfranchised children of the inner city to art enthusiasts, students and collectors. Its diverse programs, and the variety of communities it serves, distinguish the organization as both a community oriented art center and as a national and international focal point for ceramic arts.