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Jessica Kinney’s love for pottery came in 2016 during a wheel-throwing class at Arbutus Folk School in Olympia. She enjoyed it so much she bought her own pottery wheel and kiln.
The class was only a couple hours in the evening once a week, so Kinney turned to YouTube videos to further her skillset. Before long, she began crafting ceramic artwork and selling it at the Chehalis Farmers Market. It was early 2018 when she took her next big step, opening her own store, Black Dog Pottery, on North Tower Avenue in June 2018.
She was no stranger to crafting, however. She had done a little pottery in high school, but no wheel-throwing. She had also done antique resale and crafts at a couple shops in the Twin Cities, including at The Shady Lady in Centralia.
“I kind of came from the crafting background, and it just kind of evolved into more of a main focus on pottery,” Kinney said.
Black Dog Pottery is mostly a painting-on-pottery studio. The store was forced to close from March 26 to the end of May, due to not being considered an essential business. Once it did open back up, Kinney began selling take-home painting kits that include a palette of eight different colors, brushes and an assortment of ceramic pieces to choose from. After the pieces are painted by the customer, they bring it back in to be glazed and fired in a kiln and can pick up their artwork back up in a week or two.
“The pottery has already gone through its initial fire, and then once you bring it back, it gets dipped in a clear glaze and then we stick it in the kiln and it fires,” Kinney said. “Glaze is a really fine glass, so when it gets heat up to 1,800 degrees, it becomes liquid glass and that’s when it gets shiny.”
The store has to follow restaurant guidelines, so what was previously the table workshop for customers in the store has turned into a retail section with random novelty items, such as stickers, tea cozies and stuff to get downtown walkers to come into the store.
Kinney had planned to start offering raw-clay stuff and handbuilding, but that’s been put on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic because raw clay is not easy to send home with people. The store is also working on providing fused glass, which was also sidelined after being slated to launch in March.
Black Dog Pottery has always had chairs and tables on the sidewalk on North Tower Avenue but, last week, Kinney purchased a couple tents, outdoor heaters and lighting to allow customers to paint their pottery items in front of the store.
“January and February are typically slower months, so we wanted to bring in the tents to say, ‘hey, we’re still here, you can still come do this,’” Kinney said. “But we’re still putting together Valentine’s Day kits with candies, stickers and pencils. We also have Valentine’s Day items on the shelves you can pick out for yourself and it doesn’t have to be a pre-selected kit.”
There is one table with four chairs in one of the 8-by-8 tents, and one table with three chairs in the other tent, and Kinney said she’d like to maybe hold a painting class with Valentine’s Day coming up.
“When I’m doing classes, I work off the comfortability of the people sitting at the tables,” Kinney said. “We were able to do classes for a short bit before we shut back down Nov. 14. We’re doing our best to follow the rules but also make sure the people who are coming are comfortable with the situation.”
The most popular pottery pieces customers choose for painting, she said, are garden gnomes, mushrooms and coffee and tea mugs. In early December, Kinney began bringing in air plants, or Tillandsias, which look similar to succulents and live entirely off the nutrients and moisture in the air. Customers can paint planters and then pick out an air plant to take home.
The store also has a snack bar and offers black coffee, hot cocoa, hot cider and sodas. Kinney did offer alcohol when there was in-store painting but she hasn’t applied for an alcohol permit for the sidewalk yet.
Black Dog Pottery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday. For more information on the store, visit blackdogpottery.net.
More Information on Black Dog Pottery
Owner: Jessica Kinney
Location: 218 N. Tower Ave., Centralia
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday
Social media: facebook.com/blkdogpottery
Reporter Eric Trent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit chronline.com/business for more coverage of local businesses.