Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 18, 2015

Our DIY Painted Bowls + A Gift Idea for a Kid Who Has Everything

Aqua and white pottery bowl

My city is currently renovating the marina and, while the reactions to the development are mixed, I really like the Arts Centre building that was built there.  It's housed in a renovated, historic freight shed and overlooks Lake Superior. 

Historic buildings, renovated
Lake Superior Marina

They offer various classes and last month Hubs and I took our niece to a "paint a pot" workshop.  We were provided handmade bowls, glazes, brushes, etc., and given two hours to work our magic.  The centre has amazing light and we spent a blissfully peaceful afternoon painting.

Paint a pot workshop

Want to see the fruits of our labour?

This one is, quite obviously, my bowl.  I set myself up to fail by choosing an aqua glaze that happened to dry super quickly and I overworked it, so that's why it's weirdly patchy.  I haven't done anything pottery related since I was a kid myself!

Gift Ideas for Crafty Kids
Activities for Kids
Aqua Flower Pottery Bowl

You might not be able to tell, but I actually glazed the entire outside of the bowl with white because the natural colour was sort of ecru.

White Pottery Glaze

Handy Hubby made an adorable bowl.  He struggled with the glazes too, because some went on smoothly but some were chunky and uncooperative.  I had joked before the class that if his bowl didn't look good it would be a "work bowl" for him to use at the office.  With each defeated brush stroke, he'd mutter dejectedly, "yeah, this isn't working, this is going to be my work bowl".

Weekend Activities for Kids
Polka Dot Pottery Bowl
Paint Your Own Pottery Bowl

When we were driving to the waterfront to attend the class, I kept teasing our niece about what we were doing because we'd kept it a secret.  Among my tall tales, one really resonated: I told her we were going to shovel grain (our waterfront has a lot of grain elevators) and this bizarrely piqued her interest, so I explained how we'd get paid $5.00 an hour to shovel dusty grain all day, with no breaks to use the bathroom.  I described in great detail what dusty, terrible work it would be and she believed every fib.  When we arrived at the paint a pot class, I said, "Surprise! We're painting pottery bowls!!! (insert jazz hands here).  Well, the tall tales blew up in my face because at first she was totally bummed that we weren't going to be shoveling grain.  After a few minutes she got more interested in the pottery and was eventually totally engrossed - although still deeply disappointed to miss out on $5.00 an hour doing manual labour.  I was so impressed with her focus; I think she could have worked on her bowl all day.

Unique Gift Ideas for Kids
Purple and Pink Pottery Glaze
Holiday Activities with Kids

Our bowls were fired and ready to be picked up about a week or so later.  Although mine turned out a little wonkier than I hoped, Hubby's is cute enough to be a home bowl and our niece was thrilled with hers.  I'd definitely go to another class with a kiddo and I decided to share our experience in case anyone is struggling to find a gift for a kid who has every toy under the sun.  A gift certificate for something like this - a one day, crafty class - would be so much fun for kids.  It cost $75 for the three of us to attend this class, but it was better than buying a toy, I think, because we spent an afternoon together, making memories.

Next time I have a much cheaper outing in mind: shoveling grain it is!


  1. these are so fun! i love yours, obviously, and i love the dotted one, too!

    1. Thanks :) Hubs will be thrilled to hear you like his design!

  2. Nice designs! If the shop didn't tell you that you needed to do 2-4 coats of "paint" and letting them dry completely in between each coat you should try it again sometime. I used to work in a "paint your own pottery" shop here in Calgary and that was the biggest rule to follow if you wanted your pottery to come out with solid colours. It's a pain to wait until everything drys and to do so many coats but it's worth it.

    1. We didn't get any guidance about the pottery glazes and I think there were different brands/types because some were really thick and dried instantly whereas some seemed more workable. Thanks so much for the tip! Our niece had fun so I'd be totally willing to try it again with her and if I do I'll follow your advice. Don't love the splotchy look I created, but it sure was a lovely afternoon! Thanks again for the info - it's much appreciated!

  3. I love them all,so fun! Had to laugh at the shoveling grain part 😂😂😂

    1. Thanks! She's an adorable kid and I'm thinking I should really be luring her into doing some yard work around the house, lol.

  4. Experience based gifts are wonderful!

    1. Definitely! Previously we've always given toys or books - this was the first time we did an activity with her. Well, one time we ran errands with her and I drove her around in The Home Depot "car" cart very quickly and then took her thrifting, but I feel like that might not count, lol. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for another day course we could do with her.

  5. These are stunning, what a great hand made project :)


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