At studio, people paint their own pottery

September 09, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

Making a career change can sometimes be a risky, nail-biting experience for even the most cool-headed person.

That wasn't the case with Vicki Martin.

When a creative opportunity presented itself, she was eager for the challenge.

The daughter of James Resh, Martin has memories of her dad's popular Dual Highway eatery, Jim's Always. In later years, she became one of the stewards of her family's second restaurant, Richardson's.

As much as she enjoyed her job, her duties took their toll on her back, she said.

"I started thinking maybe I needed to be doing something else," she said.

While on a ski trip to British Columbia, the Hagerstown woman came across an idea for a business - a paint-your-own pottery studio.

"I thought it was a cool idea," Martin recalled. "I went back home, did some research and decided this was something I wanted to do."


Four months later, she opened the doors to Pottery By Me & More.

The ironic thing is, she said, it's in the Always Building, which once housed her father's restaurant.

When Martin came up with the idea, people were skeptical, she said.

"Friends and family would ask, 'Are you sure you want to do this? What do you know about pottery?'"

But three years after starting her business, Martin said, she is comfortable knowing she made the right decision.

"I love what I do," she said.

While she has always liked to draw and paint, Martin said she didn't major in art while in college, a fact that supports the premise of her business.

"You don't have to know how to throw clay; you don't have to be artistic to come into my studio," she said. "If you can color inside the lines, you can do this."

Visitors to Pottery By Me & More will find a variety of pre-molded pieces primed for painting.

"You name it, we probably have it," she said. "Plates, vases, mugs, figurines, candle holders - we have something for everyone."

After customers make their selections, they paint them, spending as much or as little time as they wish.

Then Martin or her staff do the glazing and firing in one of three kilns. One week later, the finished product is ready to be picked up.

The studio also offers "take and make" supplies, she said. Customers can pick out their pottery pieces, take them home, paint them and return them for the firing process.

Martin said her business has attracted people from all age groups and all walks of life. "It's a fun activity," she said. "Once people give it a try, they almost always come back."

In addition to walk-ins, Martin also hosts birthday parties for children and adults, bridal showers, family date nights and pottery camps.

One of her popular offerings is Ladies Night.

"It can be a group of friends or family members who want to get together for a fun evening," she said. "I provide snacks, they can bring their own refreshments and usually, we offer some type of entertainment, such as makeup demonstrations or shoulder massages while they work."

Reservations for special events are required, she said.

Martin also takes her pottery on the road, working with summer camps, after-school programs at local elementary schools, as well as Turning Point and ARC of Washington County. She also visits area nursing homes, where she works with Alzheimer and dementia patients, and has donated items for community fundraisers, including Habitat for Humanity and Washington County Hospital's Crystal Ball.

"Being able to help others is very satisfying," she said.

Since opening her studio, Martin said, business has been steady, even "overwhelming" during certain times of the year, especially right before Christmas.

While much of her business is local, she said she is amazed at the number of people who travel from outside of the area.

"I have a lot of regular customers from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia," she said. "It just keeps growing."

Martin said she is always thinking of new ideas but believes that's part of being a good business person.

"Sometimes I start rattling off things that I might like to try and my co-workers will tell me to shut it down," she said. "But I think it's important to constantly be improving."

Pottery By Me & More is open six days a week but will be on a seven-day schedule from October through March.

More information is available at

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