When my kids mentioned they wanted to make a present for their aunt who was getting married, I immediately started to look through a craft book trying to find something that didn’t require a ton of supplies and supervision. Then my daughter Lucy suggested making a bowl and I told them to grab their coats.
Since my kids were old enough to hold a paintbrush, my husband and I have been surprising each other with gifts the kids made at .
Since March 1998, the Painted Pot has been the neighborhood place to paint pottery and to take clay building and wheel pottery classes.
“Back in 1996 when I was working in television, my assistant came to me about a paint your own pottery store that opened in Hoboken, NJ where she lived at the time, said owner Lisa Mendoza. "She told me it would be a perfect business for me to open myself.”
The homey atmosphere at The Painted Pot is what attracts my family. When we entered, we were immediately greeted and someone set up a table for us. As a parent, the hardest challenge is trying to get your children to pick out a piece to paint. We picked out a medium sized bowl, a tile and mug. Kids are also allowed to pick three paints. Once you choose your piece and colors, the only thing left to do is paint your heart out.
The price is right, too. Pieces cost $5 and up. There is also a $6 studio fee ($8 for adults), which includes glazing and firing. You can pick up your works of art in a week.
My 7-year-old daughter Lucy loves the simplicity of the Painted Pot.
“There are no instructions and you can just paint, so you can really focus on making the pottery pretty," she said. "Also, it doesn't have to be perfect. You can just paint a stroke on the pot and see where that takes you.”
My son Max wanted to paint two small pieces, which I allowed him to do. It was my mistake. After getting halfway through the second piece, he grew tired and I had to help him finish. Kids should probably be limited to one piece. Tiles are the perfect size for the younger set, since they are small.
In addition to painting pottery, you can also make mosaics and make your own stuffed animal. While we were there, a girl was making a stuffed animal with her dad. It looked like a lot of fun.
Another great thing about The Painted Pot is the fact that you can drop in anytime and there are no reservations needed. However, Mendoza says the weekends get busy.
“If you plan to paint on Saturday or Sunday, just simply call us to hear the schedule of parties for that day and then plan your visit accordingly,” she said.
But the Painted Pot isn't just for kids. Parents, if you want a kid-free Valentine’s Day night out that doesn’t involve an overpriced prix-fixe dinner, consider a night at The Painted Pot where complimentary wine and chocolate will be served for adults from 6 - 10 p.m. If you are feeling guilty about leaving the kids out, you can always paint something for them.
If your child wants a bit more of a challenge than simply painting, the Painted Pot also has Handbuilding/Sculpture and Wheel pottery classes for children ages 5 - 16. The classes are quite popular, said Mendoza, adding that two more kid's classed have been added since the program began.
“It's an incredible feeling of satisfaction to sit down and make a bowl with your hands from a ball of clay,” she said.
My kids had fun just painting pottery. When I asked Lucy why she liked making gifts at the Painted Pot, she said it was different than normal arts and crafts time.
“Sometimes at home all you have is paper, marker and scissors and you can only make things that can fall apart," she said. "At the Painted Pot, you make something that people can keep forever."