By: Danielle Kearns
With construction underway at The Firestone, we are looking ahead to the fine details of everything we'll need to make the our opening amazing. So often, people come in to paint and create and are forced to leave early to grab a bite or a drink. We took that into consideration when planning out the new space and decided to add the cafe to make our customers that much more comfortable.
That being said, a lot goes into creating a commercial kitchen and crafting a menu. If you've ever worked in a place that involves food, you might know that it's required that there always be a ServSafe certified staff member present during food prep. But what is ServSafe and why is it key to the operation?
We believe that food should be sourced locally and seasonally as much as possible, but it is also imperative that regulations are following during the entirety of the food cycle. That means from ordering, to delivery, to cooking, to storing, and to serving you - or customer. For that reason, we have chosen to start out open day with 3 full-time staff members trained and certified with ServSafe at the Manager's level.
We are thrilled to fire up the oven and start serving you! Stay tuned for future updates.
Construction began this week on our new sister studio, The Firestone, opening in Manchester this Fall. Here's a behind the scenes look at the start of construction central.
By: Danielle Kearns
We are OFFICIALLY under construction at 1115 Main Street in Manchester, also known as our new sister studio - The Firestone. We have been asked since our announcement when our new space would be open, but understandably, construction is an unpredictable endeavor and we are just getting started. That being said, we wanted to give you all a sneak peak into the construction zone.
Although early in the process, we are already seeing major changes in a short amount of time. Many of you know this historic building as Pinewood Furniture, but it has already had such a transformation since we got the keys October 1st. We have pulled up the carpeting and hope to restore the wooden floors beneath. The walls have been knocked down that were used to create make-shift rooms. Old inventory has been put into storage. And we are now looking at an open-concept space bringing in tons of light and an awesome view of the leaves changing on Main Street.
The architect has been in throughout the week assessing the blueprints and getting the plan set for our week to week goals. We are hoping to make this renovation as quick as possible to get our studio doors open for you before the holiday season. Follow along on all of our social platforms to see day-to-day updates as this space completely transforms. Our website is currently being updated, so check out its makeover as well here.
Check out this epic video below of us literally tearing the walls down getting the space ready for you! Let us know what you are most excited to see in this renovated space and if you'll be visiting us come opening day.
Meet our pal, Ammie Williams, known in the industry for her brush lettering, informative technique sheets and videos, and her social media appeal.
By: Danielle Kearns
Don't mind us as we fan girl a little bit over here, but we're still riding that Convention high and thinking about all the rad things we saw and experienced. We'd love to highlight one of the our favorite artists who works the PYOP circuit like no one's business: Ammie Williams from Atlanta, Georgia. You may have seen her featured on our social media before because when we do get to see Ammie at industry events, it's like a college reunion for us.
Between visits, though, we are avid viewers of Ammie's Insta-story. This is probably the best place to follow along with her. Each month, Bisque Imports, one of the leading distributors in the industry, sends her a box of goodies to paint and experiment with. Sometimes, these finished products will be used for the item photo on the website. Other times, it will be a detailed tutorial video with technique sheets included. All in all, it's a great union of tips, tricks, and new products with our favorite southern bell whose style is best described as "something chaotic in the best way." That is because her pieces end up absolutely COVERED in color, cursive, and creativity... and let's face it: splatters galore!
Some call her the brush lettering queen. Her natural talent is just enhanced by the hours of training and practice she does from notebook doodles and iPad sessions on the couch. She has and inspired styled and has inspired us to be more passionate about a piece and less stiff about the approach. We would love to thank her for her dedication and enthusiasm she brings to the arts and would love to give her a public shoutout here to influence her brand new crop of fans.
Get to know Ammie on the Internet:
Bisque Imports Technique Sheets
Contributor of BI's Blog Spot
Annual Ceramic Art Studio Convention took place in Buffalo, New York this week with over 300 members participating in professional development classes and enrichment.
By: Danielle Kearns
Hello from Buffalo, New York! I am currently writing this between classes, trying to figure out what and when lunch is today, and grabbing my laptop for my business class later. I am overstimulated, under-caffeinated, and absolutely loving every minute of it. And I'm the newest of the new kids on the block here this weekend.
Not only is this my first ever Convention, but I still haven't had my first birthday in the "paint your own pottery" world yet! But that doesn't mean I'm not soaking everything here up with a synthetic pottery sponge.
Let's just say, we are fired up as a staff -- and not just because kilns are a main topic of conversation around here. Did you know that paint your own pottery (PYOP) studios are most often a part of the CCSA - the Contemporary Ceramic Studio Association. They are responsible for much of the professional development in our industry and provide a wealth of knowledge and materials to set each of our studios up for success. This year, the national Convention is being held for one week in Buffalo, and a few of us staff members are currently in the thick of it! This weekend is FILLED with classes, tutorials, trainings, product debuts, paint demonstrations, mentorship -- and our favorite -- a SNEAK PEAK of so many NEW bisque pottery options.
As a first time attendee, this has been an overwhelming but thrilling experience for me. Never have I ever been in one place with so many PYOP enthusiasts who have the same small business mindset and dedication to the arts as we have. Classes are offered daily, covering all the heavy hitting topics: ordering, hiring, human resources, marketing, techniques, planning, finances, and of course, general art tricks and tips. Since four of us went this year, a record for The Claypen, we were really able to spread out and hit as many of these classes as possible, gaining a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for the future at both The Claypen and The Firestone.
We hope that you have been following along with us on social media. If you have any questions about the benefits of being a CCSA member, feel free to comment below.
Join the organization
Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association
Great for FAQs + finding a studio near you
Paint Your Own Pottery
A big thank you to all the sponsors + contributors that made this weekend so special, especially:
By: Danielle Kearns
Let's talk about glass, baby! A few weeks back, we did a blog on bottle slumping -- an option that is available for glass fusing here in the studio. You can read all about that here. But there's a lot more available in terms of glass. Most notably, draping and slumping. Both options will allow the glass creation to take on a shape that will slowly melt in the kiln to create a fold or curve to the edges. But before I go there, let me break down where it all begins.
Glass fusing might be a term that confuses some. It most often get confused for glass blowing or stained glass, but glass fusing is a little bit different. It is an art form that basically means you do the arrangement of glass and the kiln does the fusing for you. We teach you how to (safely) cut and assemble glass in the forms of scrap, pebbles, frit, or rods. These will all go on a base tile, which will ultimately determine the final piece's shape. Your job is to create a visual you like by arranging the glass fragments and keeping them attached to the glass base using either hair spray or school glue, believe it or not.
The glass will then go into the kiln for its first load. This round will actually be the fusing step where the top layers will melt and adhere to the bottom base, ultimately "fusing" your piece as one. For many, this may create the final project. This is perfect for sun catchers, wall hangings, night lights, coasters -- or really anything that can be flat. But if you want to make things a little more interesting, you can opt to have your glass shaped. This requires a second go around in the kiln where a mold will be used to achieve that shape.
A slump is the most basic. It uses a mold in where the glass will be laid and the kiln will do all the work. The temperature is the perfect rate where the glass will take the shape of the mold, creating subtle, smooth curved edges. This allows the piece to be slightly more functional in your house -- this a soap dish, appetizer dish, or even a catch all. The "slump" technique is also how we achieve those bottle slumps everyone loves.
A drape makes for a more exaggerated shape. In this process, the glass is put on a mold that resembles an upside down tumbler. The glass will then melt down in the kiln, creating more dramatic edges. This sort of piece is most often used to create a candle holder. The final form will never be exactly the same every time and the weight of the piece will play a part. Check out the rainbow glass in the photos below to see the crazy curves that came from this drape.
Want to know more about glass fusing? Send your questions to us in the comments section below and we'll be sure to answer them. Glass workshops are live on our website. Register for them here.
You heard it here first! Glass fusing will only be available at our West Hartford location for a couple more months. During the holiday season, glass fusing will move to The Firestone, our new sister studio in Manchester and will no longer be available on a walk-in basis at The Claypen.
By: Danielle Kearns
As we are expanding, we want you to get to know us a little better. The heart of The Claypen is a staff who love coming to work, creating something special, and interacting with our customers. People often remark on the beautiful sample pieces decorating our studio and storefront, so we'd love to start by our highlighting our very talented artists who are responsible for most of our samples and commissioned pieces.
Danielle W is a recent graduate of Hall High School. Growing up, she was surrounded by the arts and decided to keep it as a focus. Her specialities include drawing and painting, especially with colored pencils, water colors, and mixed media. She enjoys both abstract and realistic pieces, which is befitting since she considers life an expression of art. "Anything and everything is art. And art can be incorporated into everything you do, everyone can do it, and it will always keep you learning," she says. Danielle will be attending the University of Vermont in Burlington this Fall where she will be working towards a BA in 2D art with a studio art major at the college of Arts and Sciences.
Visit Danielle's LinkedIn
Lindsey is a West Hartford local and first heard of The Claypen when she attended a birthday party here as a child. She's now been a Custom Artist here for almost 2 years, while simultaneously studying AP Studio Art with a concentration in acrylic painting at Hall High School, where she recently graduated. Her style utilizes vibrant colors and experimentation in both the abstract and realistic. When painting pottery, she prefers a more minimalistic approach and loves playing around with fonts and calligraphy. Art has always been a favorite subject and hobby for her. Lindsey will be attending FSU in the Fall and hopes to be accepted into the Interior Design Major in the Fine Arts College.
Gleidymar is the newest member of our artist team. She is inspired by botanicals and keeps herself busy working both at the claypen, local farmers markets, and keeping up with her online Etsy shop. She has a Studio Art minor with a concentration in ceramics from Wheelock College. She did two independent studies there to enrich herself further into the arts. Her online shop highlights hand embroidered patches and totes. She has assimilated quickly into life at The Claypen, and we couldn't be happier to have her aboard.
Shop Gleidymar's Etsy Shop
Explore Gleidymar's Instagram
These are some of Gleidymar's favorite pieces she's painted so far at The Claypen. We have to say, we love them too!
By: Danielle Kearns
We were proud to be donors for this year's Cruisin' on Main Street - an annual event that brings Manchester together for the combined love of cars and community. We were thrilled to be a part of this event and get to meet some of you in person to chat about our upcoming recent announcement about The Firestone opening this Fall.
It is one of the oldest car shows of its kind in the Northeast, which has drawn in over 400,000 spectators since 2001. Our table highlighted some of our art mediums that will be available on a walk-in basis with the classic Cruisin' logo. Attendees were invited to come up and ask about our new space and enter to win one of these awesome pieces of art.
Congrats to our raffle winners!!!
Fused Glass - Megan Gagnon
Ceramic Platter - Alan Bieber
Cruisin' Linoleum Stamp - Steve Bradley
Wood Sign - Linda Zimmerman
Canvas Painting - Tricia Enderli
By: Danielle Kearns
Try something new the next time you're at The Claypen. Bottle slumping is a creative way to repurpose and recycle something to become functional and beautiful home decor. And, if the bottle is painted, the artwork will remain on the piece, like the sample above. How gorgeous is that? All you have to do is drop the bottle off.
Here are the requirements before you do:
- bottle must be completely clean of labels/paper
- bottle must be completely dry
That's it! Seriously. The kiln will do the rest of the work. We can melt the bottle down flat or arrange it on a mold to create a shape.
Here are some bottle options to try out:
- wine bottle
- champagne bottle
- vodka bottles (think Grey Goose or Absolut)
- whiskey/bourbon bottle
- glass milk jug
- beer bottle (bomber bottles are perfect)
Some uses for your slumped bottle:
- candle holder
- spoon rest
- wall hanging/sun catcher
- appetizer/snack dish
Note: Glass has a 2 week turn around
Check out this informative video from another studio to get a better sense of how bottle slumping works. Love the awesome molds they're using.
And be sure to drop a comment below if you have any questions about glass bottle slumping or any of our other glass fusing options.
Who We Are
We are proud to announce our, sister location to The Claypen, West Hartford family: The Firestone | art studio + café, which will be located in Manchester, CT.
The Claypen has been a fixture of West Hartford Center for over 20 years. With many customers coming from east of the river, we’ve had requests to have an option closer to home as well as a business need for a larger space to accommodate parties and events. We have been working behind the scenes for quite some time to find the perfect location to meet all these needs and are ready to make the official announcement.
The Firestone | Art Studio + Café will open Fall 2019. We will be located right on Main Street in Manchester, CT, an area that is dedicated to growth and development and keeping its community at the focus. 1115 Main Street has a long history in the Manchester community and we’d like to respect and honor that. Pinewood Furniture was run and operated by the Ed Firestone, who has been a fixture on Main Street for over 24 years. Ed Firestone worked with us closely to make this exchange go as smoothly as possible and is onto his well-deserved retirement. We appreciate all of his cooperation on this journey and are excited to mirror his commitment to Manchester and the community.
What We Offer
The art studio at The Firestone will offer DIY projects, available on a walk-in basis as well as a variety of events. Our studio will be open 9am-9pm daily. During our open studio hours, you can create your own project, such as:
We will continue to offer workshops in both locations. The Firestone will utilize our party/meeting space to offer additional classes and educational opportunities. This party space will also be available for private parties, team building events and more.
In addition to the DIY arts, we will also have a café on site! Our emphasis in the café will be good food, sourced locally. We are proud to be teaming up with CT based vendors to provide our ingredients and beverage options, including:
Manchester, CT -- especially the downtown area -- is a thriving area for small businesses. We are fond of their atmosphere, proximity to other small businesses, its active community, and its plans for development and growth. It’s no surprise that Manchester has been voted Money Magazine’s #1 Place to live in Connecticut 2018! We have had requests for years to have something on the other side of the river available for customers who were often making the trek out to see us with small children and wanted to have something more convenient to them. Manchester is that perfect location.
Manchester is committed to long term growth. Their newest initiative, Downtown 2020 , exemplifies this commitment. We are proud to say The Firestone will be the first project to receive funds from the Manchester Downtown Investment Fund Loan Program. The Town’s Board of Directors established the program earlier this year to promote economic development by partnering with property owners to address contemporary code and access requirements that may serve as financial barriers for transformative property development projects.
Want to stay up to date with The Firestone project?
Connect with us on
We know you have questions! Please leave your questions + comments below for us to get you ready for this exciting new venture and your new favorite spot!
By: Danielle Kearns
The summer is flashing by! Let's talk about my favorite items to paint this summer, which are exclusive to our summer shelves. Paint them before they're gone.
1. ice cream cone bowl + pint mug
Who doesn't need more ways to enjoy their summer ice cream? These are my two current favorites. The first is our ice cream cone bowl. The second, a pint mug, which is the perfect size to fit your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to enjoy in the comfort of your home air conditioning and reduce the mess.
2. rope bowl
We LOVE these nautical rope bowls, new these year. They make a wonderful center piece for your summer table or can be used to plant flowers or simply hold your keys. They are the perfect "catch all."
3. lighthouse lantern
An iconic image for Connecticut and all of our favorite beach towns. Put in a tea light candle to illuminate this lantern from within. I have one on my mantel, but it's perfect for the front porch with a citronella candle.
4. sea shell hanging lantern
Put these all around your outdoor summer table to give the perfect ambiance to your evening at the beach house. These can be hung around the garden to create an enchanted atmosphere.
5. beach pails
We love these for flower pots, but they're also perfect to play in the kiddie pool or bring to the beach with you. Check out the sample below painted with our specialty glaze, perfectly named "Mermaid Scales."
Missing a seasonal favorite? Comment below with your suggestions and questions. We'll let you know if we have them in!
Photos provided by Gare, Inc.
Danielle is a CT native, She started at the claypen in 2018 as a Studio Associate and quickly became a Team Lead and our resident blogger on staff. Her previous experience includes teaching, writing, and photography. You can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn or reach out with questions via email.