When my nieces came to town recently, I wanted to help them make something special to give their dad for Christmas (without having to drag them all over the place). Enter Pottery-A-Go-Go.com, a Fernandina Beach business that brings pottery and all the supplies to paint it to your door.
Owner Linda Lee Smith lets you take as long as you like to paint your masterpiece, then she picks everything up, fires it in the kiln and delivers the finished product to you, all for an extremely reasonable price. I paid less than $50 to decorate four mugs with my nieces and my toddler.
Mugs of every shape and size are just the beginning of Smith’s pottery choices. There are teapots, large serving platters, figurines, dessert boxes, pitchers, even salt and pepper shakers. In fact, there’s a whole “kids menu” of items like piggy banks and tea sets.
Every detail of Smith’s service was charming. She brought a large, red-and-white polka dot bag to my door with all the supplies:
the pottery I selected from a list of choices on her website
bottles of paint (three colors of your choice are included in the price for each piece)
waterproof place mats
paintbrushes of various sizes and textures
pallets to put the paint on
There really wasn’t anything complicated about it. When it came time to paint, I handed the directions to my 9-year-old niece, and she had no trouble understanding Smith’s advice. Paint light colors first, then dark. Paint three layers to give a thick, defined look to your design. Anticipate that colors will look darker once they’ve been fired in the kiln. Those kind of basic pointers.
My niece and I had a ball painting mugs together. She was very particular about hers, making cool stripes all the way down the inside and a big love note to her dad on the outside. While I was painting my mug, I didn’t even realize she managed to handle all of the cleanup on her own, which really only involved dumping the water out and rinsing off the pallet and brushes. Smith takes care of the rest, including cleaning the soiled washcloths.
She also handles the “boring part” of adding a final layer of clear glaze to the pottery once the final layer of paint has cured.
I expected the project to be much messier when we then helped the toddlers with their mugs. My younger niece, who is only 4, and my son, who’s 3, aren’t exactly neat freaks. Nevertheless, with the place mats to absorb most of the drips, it really wasn’t bad.
Each of the little kids did more of a spatter paint design, but they both couldn’t have been more proud. I was grateful Smith had forewarned me to hide the black paint from the little guy: she said boys tend to want to cover their designs in black, and in fact that is exactly what he wanted to do. As it turned out, both their mugs came out very colorful and pretty. Their dads were very touched by the gift.
My older niece was especially thrilled with her beautiful mug… in fact, she told me she wanted a pottery wheel for Christmas.
Smith made the whole experience so much fun and hassle free. A passionate artist, herself, Smith also sells her own artwork and pottery through a second business, ChocoLate Soup Designs.
She used to own a shop in downtown Fernandina, but found it was more cost-effective to run the business through the Internet. She’s especially popular with out-of-towners, who hire her to bring her wares to their hotels. She later ships the finished pottery to their homes. She also hosts kids’ parties and even offers a party featuring a guest: her pug, Pinky. The children paint ceramic pugs in that option.
I have to say, this is a great idea for kids, and really for grown-ups, too. The toddlers were tickeled with the whole thing… especially my son, who had just seen his idol — the cartoon character Caillou — paint a mug for his mom on a recent episode. At the same time, when I told my 80-year-old grandma about the business, she also lit right up. And, who am I kidding, I didn’t have to paint my own mug when I set this up for the kids, but I just couldn’t resist. I, too, was delighted with the whole experience, so excited to see the end result, and thrilled when my completed, pretty mug was hand-delivered to my door.
Note: While this pottery is a work of art, it’s also fully functiional. It’s completely dishwasher and microwave safe.
If you’re interested in Pottery-A-Go-Go
Where: Web-based business in Fernandina Beach, will deliver to you on the island or arrange a meeting place for off-island customers.
Cost: Depends on the pottery you choose. Also, the delivery/pickup fee starts at $8 for on-island locations.
Contact: Call 904-261-7039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org