The vibrant green walls and bright, energetic lettering reflect the creative endeavors and fun times at The Pottery Place.
The unique business, in its second year at its Russell location, attracts a variety of ages with the opportunity to choose something to paint — anything from figurines and mug to dishes and trays — and literally put their own personal stamp on it.
Three generations took a table near the front on a recent evening.
Jessica Boggs, 21, of Raceland, had plans for the snowman she painted.
“This is going to take me a long time,” she said, applying baby blue to its scarf. Her mother, Renata Boggs, painted a dish while grandmother Dolores Huffman watched.
“My eyesight isn’t very good,” she said.
But this wasn’t just about painting. It was about spending time together.
Jessica Boggs, a pharmacy student at the University of Kentucky, was home for a visit and, as founder of Crafty Cats, an arts and crafts group at UK, she’s a regular at The Pottery Place.
“My friends and I come here frequently, many nights in a week,” she said. “Somebody would start a second piece and not finish it so we’d come back to finish it and someone else would have one unfinished and we’d have to come back again,” she said, adding it’s a great way to socialize.
“When you go to a movie, everybody has to sit there and not talk and watch the movie,” she said. “Here you can sit down and talk with friends and when you’re done, you can walk away with something.”
Laya Hutchison, owner of The Pottery Place, knows exactly what she means.
She said going to the paint-your-own-pottery studio is a social event that gives people a chance to talk and bond over a fun activity, but it’s more than that.
“We provide entertainment for people that’s affordable,” she said. “And it’s a great gift-giving activity. The person making it is having as much fun creating it as when they get to hand over the finished product.
“If you’re the recipient, you have to appreciate that someone took time out of their busy life to make something for them.”
Hutchison said she and two of her children had visited paint-your-own-pottery studios when traveling and her daughters loved it.
“They started bugging me to open a pottery studio. We own several businesses and it didn’t seem that we had time to pursue this venture,” she said. But as some of her children left for college, she decided the time was right.
She started the first studio in Huntington in September 2009 and quickly outgrew the original location in West Huntington, moving to Pullman Square the following year. Now, there are locations in Beckley in Charleston, too.
The Pottery Place has a large variety of items which it buys from a supplier. Customers choose an item and paint it however they wish. The studio has stencils, transfer paper and other tools to help those who believe they are artistically impaired. The price of the item is all inclusive, covering the cost of paint, studio time and glazing.
Hutchison said she is an accountant, not a numbers person, but she can still paint a piece of ceramics.
“If I can make something I can be proud of, anybody can make something they can be proud of,” she said.
Last year, Terri and Louie Gabbard of Flatwoods decided to have their family Christmas party at The Pottery Place.
“He had just had weight loss surgery and he couldn’t eat a lot and I wanted to have something that didn’t revolve around food, so I talked to everybody and they were excited about this,” Mrs. Gabbard said.
They enjoyed it so much they returned this year for the party – there were 25 ranging in age from 10 months to 70 years.
She said everyone picks out what item they want to work on, get their paint and settle down in the party section and go to work. Some painted bowls, some trays. Boys chose airplanes and trains. Girls chose initial letters and other figurines.
Gabbard said she’s not that great at painting but her husband is very talented.
“Last year, he painted a snowman that’s sitting on my mantle right now,” she said.
“Everybody enjoys it. We’re not all good at it but we like it. It’s kind of relaxing,” she said.
LEE WARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2661.