It’s no secret the holidays have become commercialized. Black Friday started on Thursday this year. Personally, I rebel against such commercialism. I search ways to make my holidays about spending time with friends and family, food and experiences, not about emptying my wallet. Don’t get me wrong. I love finding a great pair of boots, just like any other red-blooded American woman. I just prefer to do it another time.
My husband and I have a holiday tradition. We talk and laugh together while painting our own ceramic ornaments that result in a very original Christmas tree. Sometimes we paint cookie jars or coffee mugs for presents as well.
All Fired Up! is a ceramic painting studio in Cleveland Park, DC. They also have a studio in Bethesda. It is family owned, and has been in business for decades. That means there is a personal touch to the place and they allow you to do things here that corporate ceramic studios don’t – like bring in your own wine and food so you can make a party out of painting. I like the fact that their paints are non-toxic, lead free, and water-soluble. They have a wide offering of blank ceramics to spark your interest. Frosty the Snowman, dreidels, menorahs, stars, Christmas trees, reindeer, and so many more. This year I decided to give Frosty and a star some life.
The staff is friendly and helpful. They will show you how the colors work, the different effects you can achieve, and offer creative suggestions. You do not have to be artistically inclined. Just pick up a brush and paint over a stencil. Use a puffy paint to make dots and dashes. Check out the inspiration sculpture to see the results of the many paint results, and copy one. This is the kind of activity you can do alone or with the entire family. No matter your age, if you can hold a paintbrush, you can create you own personal masterpiece.
My color preferences this year are nontraditional. I love teal, so that is predominate in Frosty’s scarf. I’m using leaf green, purple, and orange accents. I find a metallic paint in gun-metal gray that will cover Frosty’s hat and become the background of my star. Here’s what my set up looks like.
I take my time and carefully add layer after layer of color for a rich, deep look once it is fired. Three to five layers is necessary for most of the paints if you want a non-streaky finish. I only use one layer of orange on Frosty’s cheeks for a lighter look than the rest of the colors so it will appear he is blushing. Once I finish, my ornaments are placed on the rack to be fired.
The hardest part of painting ceramics is the anticipation while waiting for All Fired Up! to complete my firing. Will Frosty be happy with his metallic stove top hat? Will my star shine like the night sky?
The normal turn around time is 7 days. More firings are being added as Christmas approaches. I advise visiting All Fired Up! as soon as you can to be sure you get your finished pieces before it’s too late. You may want to call 202-363-9590 and check availability of tables before you make the trip. I called last Sunday, and I am glad I did, because all tables were full and there was a waiting list. I decided to go on Monday evening instead. Got a table immediately and was off in my own creative world in no time.
All Fired Up! is open Monday – Saturday 10 – 9 and Sundays 10 – 6. You can get there easily on the Metro Red line to the Cleveland Park stop. It’s only 1/2 block down the street at 3413 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC 20008. Check their website for special deals and discounts.
Holiday cheers to you and yours,
*All images © 2014 Gina Genis