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Greater Chicago Artisan Center

Katie Baum - Staff Instructor

Katie Baum began focusing on metal clay full-time in 2007. With degrees in Biology, Psychology, and Education, she tries to balance creative expression with logical instructions, enabling students of all backgrounds to comfortably experiment with and learn about metal clay techniques. Currently working with Art Clay World, USA, Katie is the Marketing Director, Distributorship Account Administrator, and Curriculum Coordinator; she is also the current Director of the international Art Clay Society. She has had her work and articles published in Metal Clay Today and Fired Arts & Crafts magazines. Her first book, Fine Silver Keepsakes, was co-authored with Art Clay Instructor Judi Hendricks and was published in July 2009 (Kalmbach). In November 2010, Katie was accepted as one of the Art Clay Master Instructors, of which there are only 9 in North America. Katie has been teaching across the U.S and internationally at venues including bead shops, home studios, galleries, conferences, trade shows (such as the Bead & Button Show and the Glass Craft Expo) and accredited schools/institutions. In the Chicago area, she has teaching relationships with the Evanston Art Center, Lillstreet Art Center, and McCord Gallery and Cultural Center. While metal clay is her most frequent medium of choice, Katie loves to work with mixed media, including polymer clay, mixed metals, gold applications, chainmaille, resin, glass, and ceramics.

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Jackie Truty - Staff Instructor

Jackie Truty began working in flat glass as a hobby. When she finally settled on fusing glass for jewelry full time, she began studying the mechanics of dichroic glass, researching its beginnings and ultimately writing a book, published in 2002. She added wire wrapping and lapidary arts to her skills as she searched for the perfect outlet for her creative expression. It was in 2000, when she saw a demonstration on Art Clay Silver that Jackie knew she’d finally found her niche. Taking introductory and then back-to-back certification classes in the Fall of 2000, she soon became a Senior Instructor in Art Clay. Then in March of 2001, she accepted a position as one of two Directors of Education, flying to Japan for her Masters training. In 2002, she acquired the rights as exclusive, North American distributor of Art Clay products and moved her newly acquired business, Art Clay World, USA, from Torrance, California, to Oak Lawn, Illinois. She continues to run the day-to-day operations from Art Clay’s 9500 square foot headquarters, which was purchased in 2003. Jackie has also wire wrapped for over 20 years and teaches several courses here at the Greater Chicago Artisan Center. In addition, she is a lapidary and gemologist, getting her Graduate Gemologist degree from GIA in 2013. She currently serves on the Oak Lawn Arts Commission.


Marge Couglin - Associate Instructor

Marge Couglin has had a paintbrush in her hand as long as she can remember. Her formal art education began at Moraine Valley Community College, and continued at the American Academy of Art. She still takes classes and workshops to continue to grow as an artist. With her 35 years of teaching experience, Marge knows she can teach anyone. She takes great pleasure in working with people who insist they can’t draw, much less paint. “Can you hold a pencil?” she asks… “Can you write your name? Then you can paint!” Her you-can-do-it approach works for students of all ages and skill levels, and Marge welcomes all artists from all backgrounds. While she prefers working in oils, Marge is equally proficient in watercolors, pastels, charcoal, and pencil. Her current favorite projects focus on taking photographs, then turning them into sketches and then paintings, often with her grandchildren as the featured subjects. Her work has been featured in a number of local exhibits, galleries, and art shows. Marge gets inspiration from the world around her. “All life is beautiful, and if you look hard enough, even the smallest thing can be turned into a beautiful drawing or painting.”

Chris LaRue - Associate Instructor

Christine LaRue is a visual artist who specializes in ceramic, metal and polymer clays. She is equally comfortable throwing on the potter's wheel, or handbuilding sculpture forms, functional or non-functional works. She particularly enjoys the use of textural surfaces to highlight and enhance works, using glazes, paints, wax, crystals and semi-precious stones. Her style is grounded in ancient pre-Columbian art, and art from Native America, African, Maori and Asian cultures.

Ms. LaRue is a graduate of the University of Denver in Latin American Studies and minor in ceramics, studying under artists such as Maynard Tischler and Delores Fortuna. She has shown at various art fairs and galleries such as North Halsted Market Days, Washington Park, Printer's Row, Around the Coyote art fair & gallery, and the Hyde Park Art Center near the University of Chicago. She is an alum of Hyde Park Art Center's "The Center Program", an Artist Professional Development Program. She taught for over 25 years handbuilding and throwing at Creative Claythings. She is an artist who enjoys keeping her hands in clay!

Susan Lokaj - Associate Instructor

Susan Lokaj has been working with metal clay since taking her first class in 2014. Her work is inspired by nature and her love of the ocean, and often incorporates themes of water, beaches, shells and sea creatures. Her background is in graphic design and corporate training. A self-proclaimed “jewelry class junkie”, she loves learning new skills and techniques, and brings that love of learning to her classroom. Susan teaches chainmaille and silver clay, and enjoys working with copper clay and bronze clay, and is currently learning enameling to add additional color to her work.

Register for Classes Here
A course catalog is available by calling 708-857-8800 or download a copy here.

Teach a Class

The Greater Chicago Artisan Center is actively seeking artists interested in teaching their craft. If interested, please contact Katie Baum: or 708-857-8800 x109