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.
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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!
Get a great deal on all your holiday decorations in July, before the crowds, and at a great rate!
By: Danielle Kearns
We are THRILLED to announce our Christmas in July event is only a week away. Come visit us to spread the cheer and get your Christmas prep done early. We will be providing light snacks and Christmas music galore.
All items come with a light kit, which will warm your spirit and your home. Choose from a cactus tree, vintage ceramic tree, or pick-up truck with tree. (The cactus tree is brand NEW this year, so if you've done one of our tree workshops before, this has never been available.) The other items are our best sellers and have SOLD OUT in the past. By signing up for this event, you will not only be ensuring your item, but getting it a discounted pre-season rate. Once these workshops come back in the Fall, prices will be increased due to the seasonal rush and needs of our studio.
You will have access to our specialty glazes, which provide the most awesome finish and color variance to your piece. Check out the photos below to see how our trees transformed last year and why we had over 100 trees created with us.
There will be more tree workshops to come in the Fall, so if you can't make this one or it sells out, stay tuned for upcoming dates. Join our email list to be the first to know about specials before they go live on social.
Keep it crafty and fun this summer with The Claypen's Art Camp + Summer Movie Series!
By: Danielle Kearns
Looking for some extra help this summer with the kids? The Claypen has several options to keep your kids entertained and creative the whole summer through, perfect for a drop-off date night situation or busy parents. As always, check our Events page for updates. Most of these events will require pre-registration, including our summer camp program.
Our Summer movie series started Thursday, June 27th and will be every Thursday, all summer long, with pizza provided by our friends at Savoy and a corresponding art project. Due to licensing restrictions, we are not able to publicize the movie titles on our website or social media, so give the studio a call if you'd like to learn more about our movie schedule. These nights are a drop-off event for children 6+ and are $35 per child, which includes the pottery, popcorn, and 2 slices of pizza.
We are also running our Summer Art Camp, brought back by popular demand. There will be two sessions this year:
Session 1: July 29th - August 1st
THEME: Around the World
Session 2: August 5th - August 8th
Each session runs Monday-Thursday from 9a-12p.
The cost per week is $250. (Discounted rate of $230 applies if child is registered for multiple weeks or if multiple siblings attend.)
Limit of 15 campers per session.
For any questions about our kid-friendly events, contact our Events Coordinator, Cait at email@example.com.
Local wellness boutique opens in West Hartford Center and has already made fast friends with The Claypen.
By: Danielle Kearns
There's a new small business in WeHa Center. Welcome b. kind to Farmington Avenue, a wellness boutique + collaborative space that focuses on organic products that will benefit your body, mind, and spirit. The space is warm and welcoming, filled with the romantic aromas of essential oils and bath bombs.
Although they've only been around for a few weeks, we have already had our first collaboration with them! Last week, they co-hosted a mandala night with us at our location, providing the DIY essential oil bar and wellness knowledge.
Their stock ranges from home goods, beauty products, chocolates, mixers, clothing, bags, candles, oils, and more. (Let me tell you, I've been using their migraine sleep mask most nights of the week, headache or not.)
And, going forward, if you come to paint at the claypen and we're on waitlist, you will be given a 10% off coupon to use across the street while you wait. How cool is that!?
We'll also be doing collaborative events in the b. kind space! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below!
Mission: b. kind LLC is a wellness boutique and gift shop located in West Hartford, CT. Every product in b. kind is organic, natural, and hand-chosen to promote mindfulness and nourish the mind, body, and spirit connection. Monthly and weekly events will be held in the space, bringing together community members inspired to improve their lives and the lives of others. b. kind promotes a unique way of living - one encompassed by joy, health, wellness, and peace.
this silk city brewery is crafting beers and hand-crafted bars
By: Danielle Kearns
Can you tell we love beer? The whole point of art is to have another method of relaxation in this crazy world of ours. Beer just takes that to the next level. I've mad it a habit over the years to try as many craft breweries around Connecticut as I can get to. Most recently, I visited Labyrinth Brewery in Manchester. It was an otherwise quiet Thursday night, but you wouldn't have been able to tell that sitting at the bar. The place was packed from wall to wall with all different walks of life enjoying a pint, or a mug club, beer after work. The energy was both relaxed and energetic, a perfect synergy for the post-work crowd. The bar itself was dimly lit with their gothic lighting and decor. Dragons perched on the sides of taps while candles and lanterns alike flickered in the room.
I am a particular fan of sours, so I especially loved their pink guava... enough to have two. But the tap list has a little bit for every palette.
While sitting there, I couldn't help but notice just how historic and beautiful the architecture of the place really was. Labyrinth was started up by 3 friends in 2017, one of whom happened to be there that night and gave me a little insight. The building that makes up the taproom, production facility, and art gallery is over 135 years old. Manchester used to be known as a "mill town," so this building has been through it. When established, Chris, Sean, and Adam decided to keep the building as intact as they could and utilize the elements on the property itself. Trees had to be cut down in order to make parking spots, so they used those trees to make the bar, by hand, that spans the length of the facility. The space is beautiful and creates a warm and inviting atmosphere you should be sure to visit.
We are proud to call Labyrinth Brewing Company one of our new partners in collaboration.
save the date for our in studio tasting : june 14th
preregistration is required for this event
must be 21+
By: Danielle Kearns
A few weeks back, we had a 90s theme night at the claypen. I was in my element. I am a 90s kid at heart, and had way too much fun revisiting all the highlights of the era. And what’s even better? Some of those things are still around and well to this day! Did you hear that they tried to remove Friends from Netflix and it cost them a million to keep it available for streaming because people were going to boycott the service? It might seem crazy, but people feel really strongly when something from their youth is readily available to them, and then suddenly, might not be. It is the ultimate comfort blanket for any bad day. It is the familiar that we can quote backwards and forwards and bond over as a generation.
While preparing for the event, I couldn’t-help-but-Carrie-Bradshaw wonder what the main icons would be that stuck out for these different groups of people. What for me was a decade filled with Girl Power and the launch of the internet, others remember the launch of Starbucks and the rise of Boy Band Power.
Here are my best tips to throwing a proper 90’s theme party:
By: Danielle Kearns
The local craft beer scene has completely exploded over the past few years and I am all for it. There are now over 50 breweries in the state who are doing their best to cater to the growing interest, and I have made it my personal mission to visit as many of them as I can. Each time I feel like I’ve made a dent, a new place seems to pop up. I have visited a good portion over the years, but have made it a tradition to indulge in a flight upon each inaugural trip. I highly recommend this practice as it gives you a good sense of the scope and flavors they are playing around with. From there, I choose my favorite to order a full pint of.
I recently visited Alvarium Beer Company in New Britain. It was on a Sunday, which has now become synonymous with brunching and day-drinking, so needless to say, the place was absolutely packed! I made my way through their draft list… strictly as “research,” of course. Their flat screen menu was rotating behind the bar with their most up-to-date tap list, kept up to date with the help of UNTAPPD. The current menu includes 14 beers, ranging from IPAs, ales, Hefs, sours, and lagers -- as well as a rotating guest tap and snacks from The Drunken Alpaca.
We are so excited to announce that we will be hosting our first brewery collaboration with Alvarium this month, so mark your calendar and save your spot now, because spots are already starting to fill.
During the event, a member of the Alvarium team will be at the studio pouring some of their current selections while you are painting any piece of pottery of your choice, but knowing we’ll have some professional drinkers in the house, we are sure to stock up on some appropriate drink-ware including wine tumblers, shot glasses, and beer steins. But you can truly paint whatever you want that evening and enjoy the ambience and tastings all the same.
save the date: friday, march 15th
Pre-registration is required. This is a 21+ event.
**Registration costs covers your Studio Fee + use of silk screens. It also reserves your seat! You will pay for your pottery of choice same night.
We will be welcome Alvarium back on friday, may 24th
Pre-registration is required. This is a 21+ event.
a management mention
We’re hoping this is the start of many more collaborations for us in the future, especially with other small and local businesses. If you might be interested in planning an event with us, contact our Events Coordinator, Cait. We can also come to you! That’s right -catered claypen is available for team bonding, networking, fundraisers, events, and more. Inquiries can be submitted to our owner, Sophia.
By: Danielle Kearns
Have you heard of the new kid on the block? Donut Crazy has been open since late November, and it has already made quite a name for itself right here in WeHa Center. And let’s face it -- their donuts are not just crazy with toppings, but insane in creativity! And that is something we have in common. As our neighbors, we can’t help but resist a visit there… multiple times a week! (How can you not when they’re just a few doors down?) And we’ve noticed this trend with our customers as well. As we are always a BYOB studio, we find the pairing of pottery, a coffee, and a sweet treat from next door the perfect combination.
The concept is pretty brilliant. Fresh donuts, made daily, and dunked, dipped, and topped with flavors galore. And the toppings aren’t the only thing to change. The “dailies” menu are their staple items and as “normal” and consistent as they get. But the “crazies” vary and are the reputation of the place. They can be a new concoction based on a new trending, crazy flavor combo or upcoming holiday delights. Amongst our staff, we have personally taste tested the gamut of flavors. My current favorite is the strawberry pop-tart, but I can’t say enough good things about the cookie butter donut, the pecan pie, and (oh yeah) the tater tots.
That’s right… they’re not just donuts, folks! Donut Crazy also serves BEC sandwiches, omelettes, avocado toast, nitro + cold brew coffees, fruit smoothies, and more. Some of our upcoming events will feature donut delights as we continue to collaborate with our new favorite neighbor.
Not sure what to order? Here are some of our staff favorites from their rotating menu:
By: Danielle Kearns
I solemnly swear that I’m a grown human with a major thing for Harry Potter, and there is no shame in my game, so don't try and Horcrux this up for me! No lie, I once spent over six hours at the Warner Bros. Studio Lot in London touring the real sets and original costumes from the films, so yeah, I’m sort of qualified to speak on this front. Harry is where it’s at. My generation grew up with the Hogwartians (is that a word?) and considered Harry, Ron, and Hermione as our own, personal friends. I am a Gryffindor, through and through, and I just need to share with you our newest claypen additions that I’m so psyched out of my mind about -- HARRY POTTER SILK SCREENS! This might be the best thing we've offered yet, in my nerdy opinion.
Think of a silkscreen like the ultimate adult stencil. It’s made out of a super thin material with microscopic holes that allow paint through, but just enough for fine-detail work. You just use your fingertip to apply, peel the screen off, and you've got a pretty magical finished project that looks just like the real thing. This is the first time we've ever offered anything Harry Potter related, and we're super excited to see all of the majesty as each item comes out of the kiln. Choose whatever piece of pottery you'd like to paint that night and apply one of your favorite Harry Potter themed images and symbols faster than you can say Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.
Here's a list of some of our available silkscreen options:
Can you wear costumes? We hope you do!
Can you bring food or drinks? You better.
Will you be tested on your Harry Potter knowledge? You bet. We will be featuring some Harry Potter trivia throughout the night for some extra fun. Get ready for it! We hope to see you there.
save the date: saturday, march 2nd
sign up on our events page
See you there, witches.
(Muggles welcome too.)
By: Danielle Kearns
Somehow, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Don’t ask me how or when, because I honestly feel like the trick-or-treaters were at my door just yesterday. The turkey and stuffing leftovers are long past gone. I have mourned a thousand deaths after putting all of my Christmas decorations away, and here we are. My only saving grace after each holiday ends is focusing on the next one. If you read my last post, you would know I don’t consider the “big game” a personal sacrificial holiday, so I am moving onto the next big thing.
I get it… it’s a “commercial” holiday that most people would rather skip over or make way too big of a deal over. I sit comfortably in the middle of these two forms of thought. Do I demand a bouquet of roses before I’m even out of bed in the morning on February 14th? No, but I’ve never had a V-Day where my honey didn’t get them for me, so I consider myself lucky. Do I need reservations at the fanciest restaurant this side of West Hartford? No, but I like food the other 364 days of the year, so I wouldn’t mind eating some yummy delights, indulging in some extra carbs, and toasting with some bubbly… but again, that’s pretty much me on a year-round basis. Valentine’s Day can be whatever you and your other half want it to be and make it to be. In my nearly six year relationship with my man, we’ve had all the versions of the holiday you might expect and, for that matter, never expect.
Our first Valentine’s Day we shared together, I had the stomach bug. And not just your normal, 24-hour thing. I had this demon from Hell for 10 solid days. It was not glamorous. It was not fun. There was nothing dreamy about it, but we did spend some romantic nights on the couch catching up on TV and nursing some Gatorade instead of my champagne. We’ve gone for a paint night and painted opposite sides of a common canvas. It was cute, I got drunk, and his came out ten times better than mine… which happens all too often when we do anything artistic. (Don’t even get me started on how he can decorate a Rice Krispy treat like a work of art. It is insanely frustrated as a natural competitor, individual who works at an art studio, and a prior teacher.) Anyway… back to my point. I’ve had friends who could care less about the “holiday” and would be confused if their partner showed up with a card. No matter your opinion on the day, I’d like to give some suggestions on how you can spend it here at the claypen and some of the options for all the folks out there -- taken, single, or apathetic.
Here’s what’s happening this month for Valentine’s Day:
sunday, february 3rd mommy + me “my little valentine”
friday, february 8th kids: craft LOVE party
saturday, february 9th daddy breakfast date
sunday, february 10th kids: best friends painting party
wednesday, february 13th mommy + me “my little monster”
thursday, february 14th date night (*2 separate sessions)
friday, february 15th gal-entine’s day party
sunday, february 17th state love board art
wednesday, february 20th kids: yard bird
saturday, february 23rd magic mike adult only night
thursday, february 28th “just my type” platter
As always, sign up for any of our classes online to reserve your spot. We are constantly updating our events on Facebook + Instagram, so follow us out there to keep an eye out for availability.
Is your gift for your loved one a surprise? Items should be painted by Thursday, February 7th for a Valentine’s Day pick-up. Have your item hidden here until you need it. Last minute shopping? Items can be rushed for an additional fee. Happy Valentine's Day, friends!
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.