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Michelle Stambaugh revives Mud-Lucious

The second coming of Mud-Lucious delivers downtown Dowagiac more than Southwestern Michigan College alumna Michelle Stambaugh’s pottery studio. Stambaugh, who studied with David Baker and Sherrie Styx while earning her SMC associate degree, in 2013 opened the first Mud-Lucious at the other end of Front Street in Laurie Anne’s resale boutique. Now Laura Kinzler’s vintage clothing line is part of Stambaugh’s storefront at 206 S. Front St. in the former Dowagiac Vacuum Center.

Stambaugh’s studio also incorporates Greater Dowagiac Area Chamber of Commerce Program Director Vickie Phillipson’s Cabin Antiques, Ed Marshall of Decatur’s Rusty Truck Photography and painter Kandy Grady, who also studied art at SMC, in a balcony studio.

“It feels like home,” said Stambaugh, who sold the previous Mud-Lucious in 2014 to Claudia Zebell for Rosy Tomorrows.

Zebell, a school board member who also lived in Chicago, suggested Mud-Lucious and puddle-wonderful from E.E. Cummings’ poetry.

Stambaugh, 54, a Watervliet native and 1981 Grace Christian School graduate, styled hair for two decades, then decided to take classes at SMC with the goal of teaching art.

Clay creations captivated her more than teaching, although she offers ceramics classes.

“We’re so happy to have you back,” Chamber President Kim MacGregor told Stambaugh at a Sept. 8 ribbon-cutting.

“Thanks for giving us a second chance to welcome you back to Dowagiac,” Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin added. “It’s a bright spot for Dowagiac.”

“That’s what I hope, a bright spot for creativity,” Stambaugh said. “I hope it will inspire other artists to say, ‘I want to be part of downtown Dowagiac.’ That’s really what I want, for people who don’t think they’re creative to come in and be creative.”

In that regard, Stambaugh envisions Mud-Lucious as an arts incubator cultivating creative camaraderie.

She dreams of Dowagiac developing an arts district, since there is another studio downtown, wood-burning artist Larry Collins, whose Art enah Suit combines his gallery with vintage men’s clothing; public sculptures throughout the community, including the central business district, commissioned by Dogwood Fine Arts Festival; the new Orphan Train mural by Ruth Andrews and volunteers on the post office wall being dedicated Oct. 14; and new public art recruited for the reborn Division Street corridor.

Thanks to Stambaugh’s mother’s influence, the avid gardener not only infuses pottery with natural elements, she decorates furniture and furnishings with whimsical blooms and doodles.

“My mom used to bend wire into flowers,” Stambaugh said, “so I’ve always liked three-dimensional. She took Elmer’s glue and mixed it with bread dough to make tiny roses. She drew, too, but those kinds of things are what I remember.

“I don’t spin on wheels often. Almost everything I do is slab work I cut. I press in bark, pods, shells and leaves. I prefer water and sand colors. This bracelet combines lace, a coat belt and my pottery.”

She scours salvage yards for “old rusty things” she can repurpose, such as two incredibly tall, narrow, heavy doors acquired through Big Bear Auctions. They are dated 1847, believed to have come from Detroit and appear charred by fire.

Stambaugh lived in Chicago for six years while Scott, her husband of more than 30 years, attended Moody Bible Institute for his theology degree, then became a pastor at Sister Lakes Community Church.

Growing up at Sister Lakes, he worked at Judd Lumber, then as a mechanic for Art Springsteen’s Sons.

Stambaugh has been assisted by Grace Christian friend Shelly Morlock, an aesthetician (licensed skin care professional) at Stonegate Plastic Surgery in St. Joseph.

Morlock previously worked for Mattson’s House of Décor in Coloma.

Contact Stambaugh about classes at mstambaugh01@hotmail.com or call (269) 470-9840.