Our Kids recently reviewed a few of the paint your own pottery locations in the Northern Virginia area. As in most things, we have lots of places to choose from.
Clay Café Studio101 N. Maple AvenueFalls Church, VA 22046703.534.7600
At the end of a hectic week, our family drove to Clay Cafe in Falls Church to wind down, relax and paint some pottery! We found parking behind the building, close to the entrance and walked into a quaint two room shop adorned with finished glazed works of art and fused glass creations.
A friendly male employee greeted our family, asked if it was our first time there (it was) and gave us a tour of the two rooms and supplies. He pointed out the various paint selections and gave us instructions on a few techniques, how many coats to use and the different options available.
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Clay Cafe has a very large selection of items to paint, including religious items (crosses, Easter Eggs, Passover platters, mezuzahs, etc.). The lowest price item was a small tile for $4 while the higher end items could reach $40 for large platters and bowls. Due to the huge selection, we walked back and forth between the rooms and shelves before finally deciding on pieces to paint.
After choosing our pieces, we were escorted to a comfortable table and chairs where the employee had set up brushes, water and paper towels. He patiently answered any questions and checked on us frequently to see if we needed his assistance or additional supplies. At dinner time on a Friday evening, we were one of two tables painting.
In addition to pottery painting, Clay Cafe offers glass fusion which uses pieces of glass to create jewelry and other hand crafted items. Most of the glass jewelry cost between $12 to $17 to make and included earrings and necklaces.
After about an hour and half our party of three had completed painting. We washed up in a clean restroom whimsically painted with bold designs. We were told that clean up wasn’t necessary and to leave our work on the table. The total price including a discounted studio fee for two people painting two pieces was $30. The fired pieces would be ready in about a week.
The studio is available to host birthday and private parties and sponsors a camp in the summer. Clay Cafe is open seven days a week with late openings until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There is a $6 per person flat studio fee per person, but the website offers a $2 discount coupon.
Paint This!1013 King StreetAlexandria, VA 22314703.519.7499
Nestled in the middle of a very busy block in Old Town, Alexandria, this one room shop offers glass fusion, paint your own pottery and mosaics. Large picture windows allow natural light in and gives patrons the opportunity to people watch.
A selection of unfinished ceramics sits on open shelves in the back of the studio. The variety included animals, plates, platters, figurines, planters and tiles. We found the majority of the small to medium sized items to be in the $14 to $16 range. Aprons are thoughtfully available to painters and budding artisans.
An hour of studio time is $8 and the daily maximum is $12. Each person working is charged studio time in addition to the cost of the piece. After selecting our items to paint, we were shown to a table and instructed to the area where we chose our paints after looking at glazed sample colors on the wall. We sat down and were pretty much on our own for the hour and a half we stayed. One employee was in charge of a birthday party next to us and all of the other patrons. The studio was at about seventy-five percent capacity on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We had to “borrow” certain sized brushes from other tables and several of the paint containers we brought back to our table were either empty or had very little paint in them which necessitated several trips to get more paint.
Beautifully finished glass fusion plates were on display near the check out. Completed mosaic tiles and mirrors were also exhibited to stimulate creativity and offer ideas.
Paint This! offers a 10% discount to reserved parties of ten people or more. They are open six days a week; closed on Tuesdays. The studio has later hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays with 8 p.m. closings.
Hand washing and clean up are done in a clean, well maintained restroom toward the back of the store. When we finished, we returned our paints, cleaned off our table and washed the brushes. Check out was simple and efficient; it cost $33.20 for one adult and one child painting two pieces. We were told to return in seven days to pick up our glazed finished products.
Color Me MineFairfax Corner4209 Fairfax Corner Avenue EastFairfax, VA 22030703.803.7246
Color Me Mine is a franchised pottery studio. The Fairfax location is located in busy Fairfax Corner near the movie theaters. A brightly painted, well lit room entices young painters with an adequate selection of kid appealing unfinished ceramic pieces. The majority of the items were in the $15 to $25 range.
We were greeted by a friendly employee and shown to our table. After perusing the shelves, two pieces were chosen to decorate. A tile is brought to the table with all of the available paint colors glazed and numbered. We were instructed to write our paint choices using the numbers on individual palettes provided. Employees filled the palettes with our selected paint colors and brought them back our table. Various painting techniques such as “splattering” and “sponging” were also explained to us as options for decorating our pieces.
Two employees checked on us frequently throughout the hour and three quarters we spent painting and refilled our colors as necessary. Free juice boxes and water were available from a small refrigerator at the back of the room. The studio is extremely clean and brightly lit which makes it a pleasant environment in which to work. We washed the paint off in clean restroom facilities.
Color Me Mine is open seven days a week with later hours on Saturday and Sunday (8 p.m. closing). Studio fees are $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under. VIP passes can be purchased for $100 for adults and $75 for kid 12 and under. A VIP pass includes free studio fees for a year in addition to a 10% discount on regularly priced pottery.
Several party options are available and range from birthday parties to tile parties with other unique choices including “Paint Me a Story” geared for three to five year olds.
Two studio fees and painting two items came to $61.94 which we thought was fairly expensive for painting a small flower vase and a small flower pot. Pick up for our items was estimated at seven days.
Other tips for taking a pottery painting outing:
- Wear old clothing or clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Remind painters that they will have to leave their creations at the studio for about a week to be glazed.
- These activities are recommended for children ages five and up due to the amount of time required to finish painting a piece (typically sixty to ninety minutes) and the concentration needed.
Photo by Marla B. Hughes