Monday, May 10, 2010



You know those "paint your own" places where kids can go and paint pottery, then give the resulting masterpiece to their mother for her to cherish? I have always had an urge to create my own painted piece, but these places always strike me as an alternative to jungle gyms, packed with screaming kids flinging paint at each other. Maybe not, but I have always been put off. Until now...

Flower Brook Pottery, owned by resident potter and artist Janno Gay, can be found nestled in the picture perfect Vermont town of Dorset. This is ground zero for seersucker jackets, L.L.Bean totes (monogrammed, natch), labradors, and golf as a full time past time. Old money and old world charm. Think quintessential New England village, and you've got it.

A glimpse at a selection of Janno's current work.

Janno paints beautiful designs of flowers, fruit, animals and foliage on her own hand thrown pieces of pottery. Simplistic in design, vibrant in colour and delicately detailed, her pieces are favourites of mine (I own an embarrassing amount of her mugs!) To say she is talented is a gross understatement. She has an inspiration to me as an artist and business owner, and I am glad to be able to call her a friend. Anyway, I digress. Janno not only sells her own work, but has recently introduced her own "Paint Your Own" area in her boutique and I jumped at the chance to give it a go.

There is a huge range of pieces for you to decorate. Mugs, teacups, teapots, tiles, butter dishes, plates, bowls...something for everyone. The deal is, you pay for the cost of the piece, and then $4 for every half hour you take to complete the piece. Serious bargain.

Once you have chosen your piece (I picked a mug, old habits), then choose from the delicious range of paint colours (small tiles handily show what they will look like once glazed and fired).

The paint palette keeps your colours organised and avoids too much mess.

TOP TIP: take time to plan the design you want to create before hand. That way, you can jump right into the fun part of creating your design. Janno provides lots of books for inspiration, and is always on hand to give expert advice to help you achieve the design you want. Alternatively, just get spontaneous and wing it.

I drew my design on in pencil as this burns off in the kiln later, and made the process so much less daunting to me, and left little to chance. I am somewhat of a perfectionist!

And then the fun part! Paint on the design you want, in the colours you have chosen. With every kind of brush you can imagine available to me, I stuck to a thin one to give me more precision control. The ceramic soaks up the paint pretty quickly, almost like blotting paper so I learnt that less is more as I went along.

TOP TIP: If you want to create (almost) perfect stripes, use thin masking tape (I used japanese washi tape) to mark off the area you want to paint, then paint the exposed area and remove the tape to reveal your stripe. I did this at the top and the bottom of the mug.

Don't forget to paint the inside too if you want. I did polka dots. And sign your piece on the bottom like a professional.

The finished product(s)...I did two in the end, couldn't stop myself! Polka dots seemed like far too good an idea to waste on just the inside of a mug.

I am crazy excited about the finished product and love how glossy and vibrant they turned out to be. Not bad for my first attempts. I already know this is the start of a new creative outlet for me. My favourite Handmade Therapy by far! Thanks Janno!! x

P.S. You can just drop into Flower Brook Pottery to paint a piece if you are on your own, but why not make an occasion of it and book in with Janno for an evening session with a group of you (bring some vino to help with the creative inspiration!).

I will be showcasing Janno's work and boutique in their own right sometime soon, once I sweet talk her. Until then, follow Janno's latest work and goings on, by adding her Facebook page to your favourites.


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