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Pottery offers full palette of fun

Do-it-yourself pottery painting studios offer adults and children creative outlets for their talents.

By EBONY WINDOM
Published May 24, 2004

[Times photo: Lance Rothstein]
During her birthday party Friday, Kayla Walton, 6, of New Tampa paints a kitty cat at Creativity Calls, a paint-your-own-pottery studio at Shoppes of New Tampa in Wesley Chapel.

WESLEY CHAPEL - For Tanji Coats pottery painting brings back fond memories. As a child, she transformed a clay lamp into a funky, purple masterpiece. Now it's a keepsake.

"These are the things you cherish," said Coats, 35, who lives in Land O'Lakes.

The idea is catching on.

Folks are discovering how much fun can be had with a blank piece of pottery and a bevy of colors. Do-it-yourself studios such as Creativity Calls in Wesley Chapel are sprouting up in suburban neighborhoods such as Tampa Palms, Citrus Park and soon, Longleaf.

They offer folks a creative outlet.

It's all the rage.

For local owners, location is key.

Before Cindy Kozlowski opened You Do the Dishes six years ago, she did her homework.

"We researched (the area) for a year," Kozlowski said of Tampa Palms. "You always do a demographic survey. We realized (this is) a growing area."

Kozlowski relies on business from the nearby apartment complexes where turnover is high, she says.

Students at the University of South Florida flock here on Thursdays for College Night. Soon, Kozlowski will kick off a summer camp where youngsters can hang out and paint.

Folks get comfy, here. You Do the Dishes is part pottery studio, part coffee house. Walls are colored purple and gold. Clusters of tiny lights hang from the ceiling. Groups gather here to sit, chat and paint. They can slide into comfy booths and sip a cup of the specialty coffee offered here.

At You Do the Dishes, customers choose from a variety of items such as picture frames, dog bowls and teapots. Pieces range in price from $4-40. An hourly studio fee is added, too.

For years, Kozlowski had almost no competition for miles. Now, as the trend popularizes, others are cashing in, she says.

"A lot of these places are springing up, and I think that the market might get saturated," Kowlowski said of Tampa.

But she admits demand is high.

Folks can make personalized mugs and one-of-a-kind clay tiles.

People create memories, too.

At You Do the Dishes, one man painted "Will you marry me?" on a bowl and presented it to his girlfriend.

"He flipped out a ring and got on his knee," Kozlowski said.

That wasn't the only time. They've seen three engagements here.

One family decorated a clay urn to store the ashes of a loved one.

Creativity Calls is the only pottery studio in Wesley Chapel. Business has been "surprisingly good" since it opened in November.

Owner Karen Torres knows pottery.

It's a family tradition. She grew up in Puerto Rico where her grandmother sold hand-made, clay vases from her own shop. Torres, 34, learned the craft hands-on.

At Creativity Calls, she mail-orders each white, bisque shape. There are more than 200 to choose from.

Pieces range in price from $5 for a small figurine to $55 for a large bowl. Because Torres charges a flat studio fee - not by the hour - folks can sit and relax, she says.

There's glazing and firing on site, too. Torres houses a kiln in the back of the studio that heats up to 2,000 degrees. The finished product is smooth and glossy. At Creativity Calls, folks can return to pick up their finished pottery in about a week.

Customers can sit at high-top tables and paint. Others gather at a corner nook for birthday parties, bridal and baby showers.

Coats is planning a unique bash for her daughter's fifth birthday. She booked a paint-your-own pottery party at Creativity Calls. It's a fun activity for kids, Coats says. Torres will supply the paint and tiny, kitty figurines. Kids bring their imaginations. The party will set Coats back about $300. But, she says this will be one the kids won't soon forget. "Everybody wants to do it themselves," Torres said. "It (gives) a sense of accomplishment. It lets you express yourself."

- Ebony Windom can be reached at 813 909-4609 or toll free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4609. Her e-mail is ewindom@sptimes.com

If you go

CREATIVITY CALLS

WHERE: The Shoppes of New Tampa, 1742 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., No. 128, Wesley Chapel, (813) 994-3558.

HOURS: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.

TOU DO THE DISHES

WHERE: The Shoppes of Amberly, 15357 Amberly Drive, Tampa Palms, (813) 975-1700.

HOURS: 10a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 01:00:32]


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