Channel your inner artist at these paint-your-own pottery studios
Whim Studio Space
Gretchen Hoenecke taught art classes at Glen Ellyn Park District and operated her first pottery studio, Out on a Whim, in Glen Ellyn for more than two decades. In 2019 she opened this studio and now offers pottery painting sessions for all ages by appointment. She makes most of her pottery in the studio, offering a unique selection and one-of-a-kind pieces. “You pick out a piece of pottery and select your paint colors,” she says. “Everything is hands-on; I think that’s the best way to learn. Even the little guys—it’s OK if you spill, that’s allowed.” Prices start at $20 and include paint and finishing. At the end of your 90-minute session, Hoenecke will keep your creations to coat in a clear glaze and fire in the kiln; they’re ready to pick up in about a week. She also offers clay-making sessions (especially popular with groups like Scouts) where you learn how to complete a project step by step, such as a flower bowl or a pinch pot.
Good to know: Prefer to create at home? Order to-go kits for pottery painting or clay-making from the online menu and drop off creations to be glazed and fired. Birthday party packages at the studio and custom offsite sessions are also available. 120 W. Wesley St., Wheaton; whimstudiospace.com
Color Me Mine
Part of a franchise with 100-plus locations globally, this paint-your-own pottery shop is owned by the Ashby family, who have lived in Naperville for more than 20 years. “I run the studio, and we have four children who have all worked here as well,” says Katherine Ashby. “It’s our family business, and everybody pitches in. We are a walk-in studio, so our slogan is, ‘You pick it, you paint it, we fire it, and you pick it up,’ ” she says. Choose from hundreds of pottery pieces that range from functional (platters, bowls, coin banks, ring holders) to whimsical (dragons, unicorns, mushroom garden statues). Once glazed and fired, everything is food-safe. “If you paint a mug, you can actually use it at home and have your kid’s handprint on it,” she says. Depending on the pottery you pick, you can expect to pay $25 to $35 total.
Good to know: The studio’s “Painting With a Sloth Saturday” events sell out every month. Participants paint their choice of sloth pottery in the company of real-life sloth, Xena. “She just hangs there on a bar while people take pictures and paint,” Ashby says. 2835 Showplace Dr., Naperville; naperville.colormemine.com
Joumana Khouri has always loved painting. “Shirts, tablecloths—any material you can give me, I can paint on,” she says. Pottery Bayou opened in 1999 in downtown Naperville, and when the original owner retired three years ago, Khouri’s brother bought the business. Now Khouri lives her passion every day through her customers, as they paint everything from plates to mugs to decorative figurines. “For little kids, I can see their joy when they see how much the piece comes to life after it’s glazed and fired,” she says. Khouri is also constantly impressed by the ideas her customers come up with. “We had a couple come who wanted to ask people to be their best man and bridesmaid, so they made bowls and wrote a message inside, so after they eat their ice cream, they will find out they will be asked.” Walk-ins are welcome, and Khouri requests that groups of five or more call ahead for a reservation. Pottery starts at $10, plus an $8 studio fee.
Good to know: The studio hosts birthday parties and special events such as wedding or baby showers. “For a group of 10 people or more, we always give them a gift from the studio, like a personalized plate worth $35 that is for the occasion,” Khouri says.
210 S. Washington St., Naperville; potterybayoustudio.com
Photos: Whim Studio Space; Pottery Bayou; Ashby Media