Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 16, 2015

River City Roundabout

The Pottery Place offers casual artistic experience

Mention pottery, and you’ll conjure images ranging from pre-schoolers painting ceramic pumpkins for Halloween to Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze getting messy over a pottery wheel in the movie “Ghost.”

But something far different can be found on the North Shore in Chattanooga.

There, past The Big Chill and Grill on Cherokee Boulevard, is a cheerful haven known as The Pottery Place.

Enter, and the feel is more high school art department than studio or workroom.

“It’s a nice, bright summer day in here, even though it’s cold outside,” says Kathryn Olinger, manager since the studio opened in November 2013.

Good old fashioned, do-it-yourself fun and creativity are what draw most customers to The Pottery Place. People also like that no artistic skill is required.

“I’m no artist,” says Mattie Bono, a senior at Baylor, as she paints a thick ceramic bowl a light blue. “But I can do this.” Two of her friends are with her; one is painting a plate the same color, and another is applying a matching coat on a mug. Bono plans to go to college in the fall, and she wants a set of dinnerware for her dorm room.

Three coats of paint later, and the pottery is ready for a layer of glaze (to be applied by the staff at The Pottery Place) and a turn in the kiln, which gets fired up three times a week. The finished product will be ready in five to six days – well before the start of the fall semester.

A visit to The Pottery Place is ideal for families, Girl or Boy Scout troops, ladies nights out, and more, says Olinger. She’s even expecting to see couples on a date on Valentine’s Day next month. “You can bring your own beer, wine, or food, and we have three shelves of Valentine’s pottery you can paint,” she says.

Picking a piece of naked pottery is the first thing you do at The Pottery Place, and Olinger is right – a plethora of sculptures are available. Whether you fancy a bust of Bart Simpson or prefer something quaint, like a pretty half vase with flowers you can hang on a wall, there are hundreds of selections appealing to a variety of tastes.Once you select a “canvas,” a member of the staff will take you to the paint bar, where 75 colors await selection. The Pottery Place also offers special glazes that contain what look like bits of sand. These “bits” melt in the kiln to create a number of cool artistic effects. Think tie dye on a mug to get an idea of one of the many possibilities.

Best of all for parents, the paints and glazes are kid-friendly. The Pottery Place uses only non-toxic materials, and even though Olinger’s smock is covered in dabs of paint, she claims they’ll wash out. “Our paint is water-based, so it won’t stain your clothes,” she says.

A trip to The Pottery Place costs $6 per person plus the price of the pottery. The studio fee covers the paint, glazing, and firing for as many pieces as a customer wants to decorate. Unpainted pottery costs anywhere from $3 for a Christmas ornament to $150 for a giant lighthouse, although most items cost between $11 and $25.

Although few things are easier than painting pottery, some people want to be sure they know what they’re doing. For these folks, The Pottery Place holds a class once a month. These sessions cost $10 plus the price of the pottery, and are usually centered on a seasonal theme. “We’ll be painting snowmen this month, and in the spring, we’ll be doing floral pieces,” Olinger says.

In addition to painting pottery, The Pottery Place also offers DIY mosaics and glass fusing. The latter is the process of heat bonding several pieces of glass in a kiln.

The Pottery Place is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Free parking is available in the garage adjacent to the studio. The entrance to the garage is on Kent Street.

For more information, visit thepotteryplacechattanooga.com or call (423) 385-8443.