The faint wafting of BBC’s classical music channel could be heard throughout the store on Brighton‘s North Road but my mind was entirely focused on painting. Each stroke gentle, trying to stay between the lines; three coats of paint, so much to remember.
Step 1. Trace your pattern onto the mug
As I traced my design onto the mug I’d chosen to paint store owner Gil told us about the array of things to do at the Painting Pottery Cafe. Having been established for 12-years locals and visitors can walk in and choose a piece of pottery off the wall to paint, take part in pottery classes, or host an event at the cafe – birthday parties are a frequent occurrence and Hen’s parties have become more and more popular where the group can bring some nibbles and bubbly and relax in their downstairs studio allowing privacy for the party and the use of the upstairs studio for others keen to work in peace. Why Hen’s parties? “People seem to be up for something a bit different,” Gil explains.
Step 2. Begin to paint, 3 layers, stay between the lines.
As Gil left my partner in pottery painting crime, Dylan from The Travelling Editor, and I to work on our pottery masterpieces something overcame us. We’d allocated 1, maybe 2 hours to spend painting our pots before exploring what else Brighton had in store but we became absorbed in the process – Dylan with his intricate design and perfectionist ways, and I with my bright, fun, multi-colour design. When we looked up it was 2pm – we’d been painting, relaxed by the process and the classical music, for three-hours.
After a quick fish & chip lunch break we were back to painting. Each stroke inside the lines, mixing colours to create something unique – the process was calming and a much needed change from the fast pace that London life bought.
Step 3. Place varnish on, leave in kiln for two-weeks.
Whilst our journey to Brighton ended the pottery which was painted still had a few more weeks before it was ready to be useable. But there were always gentle reminders of our day spent at the Painting Pottery Cafe – a shop of intricately designed pottery in Kyoto, Japan or traditional Bulgarian potters at a conference taking it in turns to ‘throw’ or paint which lead me to reminisce on a unique experience which can be found in the lower level of the Brighton store.
Whilst at the cafe we were tempted downstairs to watch a throwing class. ‘Throwing’ is where the artisan uses the pottery wheel to shape the clay by hand – a process a lot tricker than what the teacher and student made it look. The rhythmic whirling of the pottery wheel with the click of the camera shutter were the only sounds as concentration furrowed the room. Soon the pot began to grow, taking on it’s own life guided by the creators hands.
Step 4. Collect. Take home. Use.
The finishing product surprised me. When painted onto the dry pottery the colours appear bland, perhaps somewhat lifeless but as my piece of pottery was presented to me, having been sitting in the shop window for a few days after leaving the kiln, the colours were bold and eye-catching – just what I had in mind when choosing the tiger stencil which now adorns my mug.
Whilst I’m not sure if my level of pottery painting is not good enough tobe displayed in art galleries but it will be displayed in a very important space – my kitchen – and I will drink tea from it every day.
The Painting Pottery Cafe can be found at 31 North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YB
To book a class or arrange a time to paint pottery ring 01273 628952.
Walk-in’s are welcome providing there is room.