Hands-on Pottery Painting Studios: Easy, Eco-Friendly, and Not at All Lame

Kittens enjoy their hand-painted cat bowlI knew that I wouldn’t find any chain-smokers in the hands-on pottery painting studio this time around, but gaggles of sorority girls, blissfully painting Greek letters onto shot glasses and fulfilling my grandmother’s gossip quotient? I hadn’t expected them.

Also in attendance on this mid-winter early afternoon was one other couple working on a huge salad bowl, another painting and then stamping their infant’s foot on an endless series of ornaments, a couple of adults decorating coasters, and an elderly dude showed us the ropes. As a fan of the Hands-on Art Studio and other hipster D.I.Y. craft destinations, I found this studio to be a pretty comfortable place.

If you’re worried about walking into a hands-on pottery painting studio and having to choose amongst a bunch of tacky crap, then don’t. Sure, there was the odd knick-knack to steer kiddos and the easily-influenced away from, but there was also plenty of useful stuff such as plates, coffee mugs, serving bowls both large and small, and simple tiles and other shapes. With little motherly machination, my girls each chose a nice cereal bowl to decorate for their precious cats.

D.I.Y. pottery painting is also an eco-friendly practice, as we discovered. The paints are non-toxic and require only water for clean-up, and the glazes are non-toxic and food-grade- you can’t always be sure of that when you buy vintage. The elderly dude-in-charge didn’t know where the pottery forms themselves were manufactured, but you know that at least the painting is done locally. The sharing of resources is also a big plus: every paint tube gets used up to the last drop, and the kiln’s usage of energy resources is maximized by filling it with an entire clientele’s paint jobs.

In a hands-on pottery painting studio you always pay for your piece, of course, and depending on the place, you’ll also definitely pay for studio time and/or kiln firing, making it not exactly the cheapest date that you’ve ever been on. Our two cereal bowls plus an hour of painting for two kids cost me about $26, but as we were leaving I did grab a calendar that had a different deal for every day- Kids Paint Free Tuesdays, for instance (darn it!), and Friday Night Couples’ Night, etc.

I held onto the calendar, so that when I steer my husband back there with the girls before Mother’s Day (Momma wants a couple of those big coffee mugs!), we can shave a few bucks off of our made-by-local-artists wares.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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