Alison Davies never knew there was an artist inside her until she started taking ceramics classes at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.
She began in earnest six years ago, after a friend of hers had signed up and recommended the courses. So Davies, a retired environmental consultant who'd studied biology and geology in college, rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
She tried throwing on the wheel but shifted to sculpting after an in-class project brought pleasant results. One day, she spied another student's work on a shelf in the ceramics studio and became intrigued.
"I'd seen what I thought was a dragon curled up and sleeping," Davies recalled. "It was actually a stegosaurus, but I made [a dragon] and thought, this is kind of fun."
From there, the Sunland resident's interest in ceramics took off. With some tips from fellow CCLCF artists and a binder full of images and ideas for future works to try, Davies soon found herself crafting large-scale, multipiece figures of ancient dragons, mythical creatures and other animals.
"When you look at her work it's just amazing. There's not much like it here," said Community Center Executive Director Maureen Bond. "She works for weeks and weeks on one project."
Next Friday and Saturday, Davies will be the featured artist at the Community Center's spring ceramics sale, an event designed for locals looking for unique Mother's Day gifts and art pieces created by students of the ceramics program.
Miriam Balcazar, head of the program, says Davies' work stands out for its intricacy and visual interest.
"I'm really surprised and amazed she chose this level of detail and this kind of work without having an artistic background," Balcazar said. "I have no idea where she gets her inspiration."
Davies said she's sometimes motivated by the work of her fellow students to try her hand at a particular technique. Once she began making mythical creatures, her mother-in-law requested a Welsh dragon.
Others saw her work and made suggestions, and now her idea book is packed full of images. Occasionally she is commissioned to do work, something she never would have imagined just six years earlier.
"I'm just having so much fun," she said. "It all started with the Community Center."
FYI: The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge's spring ceramics sale takes place May 11, from 3 to 8 p.m. with an artists' reception, and on May 12, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 4469 Chevy Chase Drive. For more information, call (818) 790-4353 or visit cclcf.org.