Piece Makers Studio refers to themselves as a Paint-Your-Own-Pottery (#PYOP) studio and its owners are dedicated to creating a calm and fun creative space for customers. Piece Makers Studio is located on 905 E. Main St. Their hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
At Piece Makers Studio there are three rules:
1. Pick it.
2. Paint it.
3. We’ll take care of the rest.
There are no appointments necessary for customers, in fact, walk-ins are welcomed and encouraged. Customers can come into the store and browse their walls of various ceramic pieces such as mugs, plates, animals, model cars; the list goes on. Once the person chooses their piece of art to paint, the employees walk customers through the steps and then let them get to painting. Once the artwork is done, the customer leaves their project in the hands of the employees who glaze and fire them in a kiln to make them more durable, waterproof and give them a glossy appearance.
One of the many shelves in the store stocked with various pieces such as mugs, wine glasses, plates, cowboy boots, letters, etc. There is no shortage of things to create.
“I wanted to create a space where everybody of all skill levels [and] all ages feel welcomed. We tell people you pick it; you paint it, we will clean it up. All they have to do is pay for it and leave.” The store’s owner, Ruby Woodward, said.
These are the kilns used to create the glossy look on the finished pieces. The kilns are named Lucy (left) and Ricky (right).
Woodard said that this studio has been a lifelong dream of hers. After being an art teacher for years, she left behind her rigid work schedule and creativity stifling environment to open her own business.
“I love making my own schedule and I love being around people that want to be here,” Woodard said. “It’s a happy place.”
An issue that seems to plague new and innovative businesses, such as Piece Makers Studio in towns like Nacogdoches is that they go out of business quickly due to a lack of repeated customers. Kimberly Harper hopes to change that pattern. Harper is the director of sales and marketing. She believes that the key to having a successful business in a small town is customer service.
“It is the only way to succeed in this town,” Harper said. “[It is] to take each and every customer that comes into this store and treat them with excitement and joy and help them create… [and] think outside of their box. We want to be extremely open to any and everyone.”
Another aspect of running a successful business is fair pricing. The prices at the store range from $6, for miniature pieces, up to $100 for large pieces of work. The pricing is all inclusive— the cost includes the piece, paint, glazing, handling and firing in the kiln. Piece Makers Studio also gives a ten percent discount to students, teachers and people serving in the military.
To keep the store fun and exciting for customers, there are various promotions and events happening. The first Friday of the month is “Friday Fun,” which is a themed night— this month is Day of the Dead where customers can decorate sugar skulls for ten percent off the normal price. Story Time with Ruby occurs every second Saturday of the month where Woodard reads a story while people work on their art projects. Another promotion is Thirsty Thursday, which is a Bring-Your-Own-Booze event— the store is open late, and all beverage ware is ten percent off.
Ruby Woodard holding her favorite creation, the unlucky cat. What was originally going to be trash turned into an amusing and fun art piece.
This is only a small portion of the massive selections of paint they have in store. The ceramic hearts are used to show what the color will look like after a cycle in the kiln.
This plate is giving an example of the process at Piece Makers. The customers start out with a clean canvas they can draw designs on, and then paint their masterpiece. Once it’s painted, it is glazed with a clear coat and the fired in a kiln. This makes the colors vibrant and glossy.
Kimberly Harper is holding her favorite creation she has made so far. The ceramic donut doubles as a coin bank.
The “Damaged with Potential” section features broken or improperly manufactured pieces. Customers can purchase them at a discounted price and get creative with their painting like how Woodard was with her “unlucky” cat.
This crafty sugar skull is a part of the Day of the Dead collection. There are various types of sugar skull crafts such as mugs, plates and full skulls. They will be available for purchase until November 2.
All photos are by Lexus Jacobs