Just inside the door to Clay Cup Studios, a quote by Pablo Picasso is stenciled on the wall. Every child is an artist , it says, The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
This “problem” is one Amy Owens, owner of Clay Cup Studios, takes to heart, as she endeavors to solve it one customer at a time. “ [I love] getting to see families coming in and their kids get excited but the best part is seeing the adults get excited because it’s been 20 years since they’ve painted something, and they are amazed they did something that they actually like,” she said.
I got a chance to sit down with Amy recently, and felt as comfortable in her store as I do in my own living room. As her assistant, Vicki Hallcom had to say: “She has a really big heart and cares so much about families. She’s very positive and uplifting.” This is all true. I myself met Amy as a customer one rainy Saturday when I ignored my instincts about 4 year olds and breakables. We walked through the door and I saw shelving stocked floor to ceiling with cute ceramic figures and hesitated. But Amy welcomed us with her characteristic warmth. “Is it ok for him to be here?” I asked. “He’s 4.”
“Yeah! Of course!” she said grinning, and within seconds, I felt like I’d known her all my life. Long story short? My son knocked into a shelf that morning, and a painted display dinosaur shattered on the concrete floor. AND WE STAYED. We felt so welcome, in fact, that not only did we manage to collaborate on a glazed triceratops, I came back several times with my other children. The glazed and painted robot banks and dinosaurs and toe shoes found their place of honor in our home. They’ve been brought to Show and Tell. They’ve been proudly pointed out to guests; “I made that!”
Amy showed me a piece that had been created by her two year old, a beautiful layering of finger paint on a small platter. “We had a birthday party here with seventeen 2 year olds,” she said. Not for the faint of heart, but she was excited to show me how simple it can be to create a substantial piece; a mug or a dish that you can use forever that memorializes your child’s first artwork. The older kids, for whom Amy has created a “Tween Night,” (9-13 year olds), tend to gravitate toward projects involving a technique called glass fusion, and showed me the endless and beautiful possibilities for keepsakes and dishware.
As my family discovered, when you go to Clay Cup, you’re not just buying a product, you’re paying for an experience, and a memento of the time you spent together. And that is precisely what inspired Amy to open her business in Galveston.
“I used to take my son Caidyn to ‘The Painted Potter’ in the Bay Area...being a mom, I noticed there was a lack of places for local kids to go...we have Moody Gardens and we have The Pleasure Pier, but there weren’t a lot of affordable options to take your kid any given day, when you’re not going to be overrun by crowds..and I get to see families spending time together. I know that’s really cheesy, I know it is, it’s horrible! (laughs) I volunteer at a lot at PTO’s, I’ve got 3 kids now, and between dropping your kids off at ballet, soccer, baseball, it gets hard, you never get to spend one on one time with your kids…families and art is my passion.”
Clay Cup Studios welcomes walk ins and their pricing starts at $5. They also have specialty workshops and regular events, such as Family Date Night, Tween Night, and Tiny Tots Tuesdays. They are located at 409 22nd Street in downtown Galveston. Check out their website claycupstudios.com for upcoming events.