It was my youngest daughter’s fourth birthday at the weekend. This left me scratching my head over where to take her and her sister for the day. With a yellow weather warning for wind and rain in place, it had to be indoors and so a plan for bowling was made. I wasn’t sure if this was more a plan to suit the adults than the ideal activity for a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. So when my brother’s partner said she’d come up with a better idea, I was pleased, even if it was to be a surprise…
The surprise was an afternoon painting pottery at Bella Ceramics in Weymouth, something I would never have thought of. Due to the foul weather, my sister and brother-in-law’s activities for the day were cancelled, so they and my niece and nephew joined my brother’s partner, my brother, my daughters and me.
We were given a warm welcome by the proprietors Jo and Faith on arrival and shown to a large table with nine places laid up for creating our masterpieces. The adults quickly decided that concentrating on painting a beautiful piece of pottery while monitoring four children under eight would be an exercise in futility, and the kids were duly sent off to choose their pieces to paint. A budget was set, but it was still difficult to choose from such a wide variety of blank pieces of pottery. From practical to decorative and from small to large, it seemed that there must surely be something for everyone.
Once the children had made their choices, Jo gave us a short explanation of how it worked and left us to our own devices. The kids were soon busy choosing their brushes and squeezing out their paints. We did have to explain that they should concentrate on one or two colours at a time chosen from the supplied ceramic colour wheel rather than squeezing every colour onto the palette and then deciding which to use, but apart from that, things were pretty uneventful.
Down to business
Had we not just eaten a big lunch, we would have been able to enjoy something from the menu of coffees, teas, muffins, biscuits and treats. As it was, we chatted amongst ourselves and kept an eye on the children while gently nudging their artistic direction when we felt it necessary. We all thought it a shame when what had been a beautifully painted flower became an unrecognisable splodge, but as long as the artist was happy, who were we to question her intent?
Once the children felt their pottery had been sufficiently decorated, Jo offered to write their names on their pieces using her steady hand and fine applicator. With that, we paid our bill and left our work behind to be glazed and fired, excited and curious to know how they would finally look when one of us returned to pick them up in a few days.
Although we went with children, it’s an activity that would appeal to all ages. I felt that even with my lack of painting ability, I would have enjoyed a spot of colouring in!
Bella Ceramics is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Monday. You can check out their Facebook page here. There is a £5 studio fee per painter to cover the cost of the glazing and firing plus the cost of whichever piece you choose to paint. If you’re visiting from out of town and leaving before your work is finished in the kiln, they can post it to you at home.
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