Glazed and confused

Even the darkest of souls can find solace through painting pottery

TO KILN FOR <br>Arts Coodinator Chris Baldwin gets artsy on this Poe-inspired plate.

Arts Coodinator Chris Baldwin gets artsy on this Poe-inspired plate.

Photo By Tom Angel

Apparently like many customers here, I show up one morning to create a gift with no preconceived ideas. By the end of the day, I remember just how fun and relaxing it is to paint.

That’s why the idea behind gift shopping at Glazed Creations, located at 511 Main St. next to the Senator Theatre, is so perfect. Inside this roomy, paint-your-own ceramic studio, you get to choose from different bisque (white pottery) on numerous shelves—could be a mug, plate, vase, frame, trinket; there are many to choose from—then take your time painting it up in your own creative manner. For some last-minute gift buyers, it can be like the Cliff Notes version of building from scratch.

Photo By Tom Angel

Grabbing a blank dinner plate from the shelf, I find a worktable and begin painting the background from a host of warm colors. Still searching for an idea, I go with a visual re-creation of a song stuck in my head at the moment, “Poor, Poor Lenore,” by a duo called the Handsome Family.

Inspired probably by the famous Poe poem, “Lenore” (1831), the dark ballad tells the story of “poor Lenore, carried off by crows … to the top of a dead tree where the heartbroken go.” To the peripheral curiosity of some customers, I have soon painted a picture of a woman lying beneath a dead, red tree with black beaks twisted in her hair. Whoever finished their meal completely would find a morbid image of despair staring back at them.

“Who are you going to give that to?” asks owner Jessica Souder, a Chico State University graduate who opened the store last December after getting the idea from some studios in San Francisco. Realizing that Chico didn’t have anything quite like it downtown, she rented the high-ceilinged space on Main and fired up a kiln.

Photo By Tom Angel

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll give it to my sister?” Best not read too much into that one. I just like the song, that’s all. Really.

Souder tells me all the paints are non-toxic and food-safe and adds that she will be teaching classes on given nights.

“It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon,” she says. “I got into ceramics from an artist friend of my husband’s, then just wanted to stay involved. … Now people tell me what they want to see in here [she orders a constantly changing inventory of objects], and then it’s all up to them to create the design and we do the rest. Parents find that it’s a great activity to do with their kids.”

The Glazed Creation cost: You pay for an item, the cost of which ranges between $5 and $40, then it’s $8 a day ($6 for kids) for the use of paints, brushes and studio time—as well as the final firing—and voilà! You have a personal gift sure to bring a smile (or furrowed brow) to someone’s face.

With all the space that Souder has in her store—two large rooms, one like a busy art studio, the other like a formal dining area—she also offers party rental for office parties, children’s parties, bridal/baby showers, and dinner parties in the formal room.

Even if you’re not giving a gift to someone, I would recommend designing something at Glazed Creations just for the sheer relaxation of it. After all, I think someone proved art to be therapeutic once or twice.