My husband and I enjoyed our wedding shower at a paint-your-own-pottery shop. During the unique festivities, in addition to tasty snacks and libations and conversation, our family and friends were presented with the opportunity to paint small tiles that would later become part of a mosaic-style commemorative wedding tray, as well as contribute to painting a large bowl for us. Meanwhile, my soon-to-be-hubby and I also participated in the fun by painting smaller bowls for each other, just the right size for a few scoops of ice cream or a small helping of cereal. Earlier in our relationship, I had visited the same paint-your-own poetry shop to paint a large, colorful coffee mug for my husband, to be bestowed as a Christmas gift.
These cherished memories got me to thinking that a similar style of creativity could make for a unique and wonderful gift idea for Valentine’s Day. Paint-your-own pottery is the kind of gift that combines the thoughtful charm of handcrafted personalization with practical function in the most delightful way. Many of the items offered by these stores for patrons to paint are objects with everyday uses (although some purely decorative items are also offered, if you would rather paint that sort of a token for your loved one) ranging from mugs to bowls to trays to banks and more. Even pet dishes are often an option if you are in the mood to create a special Valentine for your dog or cat or other furry friend.
Allow me to focus here on the idea of creating a handcrafted yet useful item of painted pottery for a significant other. If you choose a vessel such as a mug or a bowl or another kind of container, then you can also fill it with small goodies as part of the Valentine gift. If your beloved has a sweet tooth, you might want to consider red hots, conversation hearts, candy kisses, gourmet truffles, or maybe even a specialty confection whipped up by you to expand upon the homemade theme. Other possibilities include delectable bath & body treats or risqué adult pleasures. Perhaps you could paint a very small bowl and nestle a piece of jewelry in it; later, she could use this bowl to hold her wedding ring or other treasured baubles. A small bowl could also serve more casual uses, such as holding chip dip or salsa or soy sauce in which to dip your sushi.
Of course, before you select the special innards for your one-of-a-kind pottery piece, you will need to paint and embellish it. Perhaps you will desire to use a design reminiscent of Valentine’s Day itself, complete with traditional Valentine’s Day colors and motifs. Perhaps you would prefer to concoct a color/design scheme that strays from tradition and reflects something special or especially memorable to your individual partner. With the ice cream bowl I painted for my husband at our wedding shower, I used paint colors reminiscent of a Southwestern landscape (think of the blue skies and red rock formations of Sedona, Arizona) because that kind of natural environment is close to his heart and also because we planned to honeymoon in that area. Ponder some of your partner’s favorite colors or landscapes and then think about a way to include these preferences on the special paint-your-own-pottery valentine you are creating.
One important detail to keep in mind with this project is that you will need to plan in advance, as it will most likely require two separate visits to the paint-your-own-pottery shop. On the first visit, you will actually paint your chosen piece of pottery, but then the shop team will have to fire it in their kiln to complete the piece, so you will probably need to visit a second time (typically about a week later) to pick up your special handiwork. Also keep in mind that after the piece of pottery is fired, some of the paint colors are going to look different than when you applied them. The paint colors available in the shop will include special notes and other information that will let you know what to expect from a color after the piece has been fired, as well as application instructions. For example, many paint colors will require multiple coats of paint if you want the final result to look opaque rather than translucent. Do make sure you read and follow these instructions if you want your finished piece to meet your expectations and look similar to what you visualize as you are painting and embellishing your gift object of choice.
Feel free to ask the team at the shop for assistance and suggestions! They are most likely more well-versed than you in the details of paint-your-own-pottery pieces and may have some excellent painting pointers for you, ideas about appealing color combinations or unique brush stroke techniques, or just a little hint or two to help get your creative juices flowing. They can offer you expert advice on the various paint colors as well as paint application and they can probably also provide you with a clearer idea about what your artisanal piece of pottery will look like when it is complete. They might even be willing to discuss some special customization options with you
Amanda Cook-Hudak is the owner of All Fired Up!, a paint-your-own-pottery shop located in Medina, Ohio. She had the following to say, regarding customization options: “We offer custom painting for those who would rather have an artist do the work. We provide stamps and stencils, idea books and lots of painted examples to inspire customers. Customers can let us know their ideas and we can help give tips and help with how to get the desired end result. There are different types of paints, too, to suit individual styles and abilities. Crystalites, mattes, speckled, pottery glazes, and more.”
A few of Amanda’s special suggestions for a unique pottery Valentine this year are a wine caddy or a wine cooler, which could be personalized as desired and then presented with a favorite bottle of wine or sparkling juice-a hand painted vase, which could be filled with your gift recipient’s favorite bouquet-or a ladybug-shaped box for your love bug.
Not only is a paint-your-own-pottery piece a fun and unique Valentine, it is also pretty affordable. Amanda says that in her studio, $20 is a good average price that could buy you a dinner plate, a mug, a bowl, or a heart-shaped trinket box, among other options. This $20 would include everything- -your studio time, the paint, and having the piece fired in the kiln by the shop team. Once the piece is fired, it is then microwave and dishwasher safe.
Amanda’s studio even offers Valentine’s Day discounts, which brings to mind the idea of yet another special idea. Perhaps instead of creating a piece of pottery for your Valentine, the two of you might enjoy some creative time together. According to Amanda, “Painting pottery together for Valentine’s Day can be very romantic and relaxing. My studio allows customers to bring in any food or drink while they paint. No need to wait for a table to dine in; get carry-out and create a unique keepsake together that you will cherish forever.”
However, if you do have your heart set on surprising your beloved with a special piece of pottery that you created by yourself, consider this final heartwarming notion from Amanda: “Every year, we have ladies and men who paint a plate with a message with plans to serve dinner or dessert on the plate and the message will then be visible when the food is eaten. ” She says she’s still waiting to see a ‘Will you marry me?’ message on one of these plates, but what a romantic idea.
What about a marriage proposal inscribed upon a hand painted plate and then hidden by chocolate-dipped strawberries that one plans to feed to his or her partner by hand until the message is revealed? Can I get an ooh la la?
Although I have chosen to focus here on the idea of creating a special piece of paint-your-own-pottery for a significant other, you could certainly choose to make pottery Valentines for others in your life, too. From a signed child’s handprint for a proud grandparent to a uniquely painted photo frame for a parent or sibling or close friend-from a commemorative plate to a candy dish-from a one-of-a-kind ornament or other nifty curio to an extra-special breakfast-in-bed tray, whether you are designing a Valentine’s Day piece of painted pottery for a romantic partner or a different kind of special someone, the creative possibilities are abundant and sure to be fun for both the creator of this Valentine and the lucky gift recipient.
For additional paint-your-own-pottery information including studio locations, visit www.paintyourownpottery.com.
If you happen to reside near the Medina, Ohio area and would like to visit Amanda Cook-Hudak’s shop, All Fired Up!, it is located at 233 South Court Street in the historic Medina Square. All heart-shaped pottery will be 15% off on Valentine’s Day.