DIY pottery and ceramic painting

You may have noticed a few places around town where you can paint your own pottery. If you thought this meant you were limited to bowls and vases, think again! I first experienced DIY pottery more than ten years ago. My mom took my twin sister and I to a pottery place where we all painted ceramic star shaped boxes. We still have them, mine has sat on my nightstand all these years. Even though I had a blast and love the finished box, I never managed to go back and create something else. That changed when Groupon came along. Painting your own pottery can be pricey, depending on the item you choose to paint. If you happen to catch a deal on Groupon, you can pay about $12 for $25 worth of fun. The deals may vary, I’ve gotten a few for a couple different shops and highly recommend taking advantage of these offers. For the cost of a movie ticket you can spend hours painting an object you can keep forever!

My star shaped box

My sister and I purchased a deal along with a friend of ours. This one was for Ready Paint Fire in the Pearl District. We decided to go on a week night, you can call ahead to make sure they have room for everyone. Inside there are neat little tables all set up. The lighting is great, the shop is comfortable and very clean. You can even purchase beverages to enjoy while you work. When you first walk in you will see lots of shelves stuffed with unfinished pottery. Everything is a blank canvas and the choices are endless. You can spend a few dollars and make small magnets, or you can spend more and make huge pieces. The staff are very helpful and will instruct you on what to do and how to pick colors. This is not something to be intimidated by, you can make things as simple or as complicated as you want. If you run out of time, you can have them hold your piece until you come back to finish painting. If you’re like me, this will happen to you! When you do finish your masterpiece, you leave it at the shop to be fired. In less than a week, you can pick up your shiny new creation and show it off to all your friends!

My three skulls

The first time we came to Ready Paint Fire, it was October. They had a good selection of Halloween items to paint. I chose to paint three skulls to add to my decorations at home. I left one very traditional by adding only black to the eyes and to the cheek area for that hollowed out look. The other two skulls were a little more involved. I knew I wanted a zombie looking skull, more comic than realistic. I chose this great green color for the flesh tone. I added a little missing patch on the chin and some stitches on the forehead. The materials available included this great paint that is kind of like puff paint for fabric. When you put it on, you squeeze it out of a tube and it’s raised and puffy, it cures that way when fired in the kiln. Perfect for making brains! I chose to give my third skull a paint job that reminds me of some of the Day of the Dead skulls I’ve seen. I chose the colors based on flames, like painting a hot rod. I like how these look when displayed together on my mantle.

My spoon rest

The second time we came to Ready Paint Fire, I wanted to paint something functional. They have so many choices, including a great selection of dishes for you or your pet. My house needed a spoon rest and they had one! With my item picked out, I decided on my colors. The reddish-brown, cream, brown, and darker yellow complement my kitchen. I thought for a while about what to paint. They have several widths of tape in the studio that you can use to make straight lines. I chose a thinner tape and laid out a pattern, making it up as I went along. When all of the tape was down, I painted in each section. When the paint was dry I peeled it off to reveal crisp white lines. I chose to leave the lines unpainted so they would be white in my finished piece. I love this spoon rest! It is very heavy and I don’t worry about it breaking. I hand wash mine so I imagine I will have this in my kitchen for a very long time.

My Tiki mug

My last adventure with paint your pottery was at Pottery Fun. This studio is located in SE Portland, on Stark. I love this area and was excited to see this place open. Hopefully it will be around a long time. The studio is bright, with lots of tables, some big enough for really large groups to sit together. When you walk in, the unfinished pieces line the walls on both sides of the room. This place has something for everyone. There are so many awesome figurines as well as traditional items. I wandered around the shelves for a while but couldn’t resist this Tiki mug. It just makes me smile. I painted it with bright colors and spend a long time carefully staying in the lines. With the background color, I picked a bright blue that has little flecks of white in it. If you are looking for something a little different, just ask! The staff are nice and will no doubt help you find just the right color or teach you a technique to use. After hours of painting, I left my mug in their capable hands for a few days to be fired.

I hope this post inspires you to give paint your own potter a try. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends. If you need some “me” time, take your iPod and paint the day away in peace.