I took Dee pottery painting for the first time last Saturday. I’d been meaning to take her for ages and finally got round to it on a cold, windy January morning – perfect for indoor activities and hot chocolate!
Mudpie is a beautiful, family run pottery and craft studio in Folkestone, Kent with a calm, clean, kitsch vibe. It’s a beautiful place, from the decor to the tasty array of cakes on the counter. The owners design and produce all their own pottery for visitors to paint, and have recently expanded to include a clay studio where visitors can try their hand at making their own pieces by hand or on a wheel.
We went with a friend and her daughter who is the same age as Dee – they’ll both be 3 this month. I won’t pretend I wasn’t terrified of them sending pottery crashing to the floor as they ran off to choose their pieces to paint! Luckily, we have amazingly well behaved girls who stopped running when asked and handled the pottery like precious treasure when told to be careful not to drop it.
There was so much to choose from, from coasters and mugs to little animal figurines and bigger pieces like plates and gnomes. The girls chose their projects surprisingly quickly, as toddlers often do (I wish I had my daughter’s decision making ability!)
Dee chose a small race car and her friend chose a little cat figurine which they carried very delicately back to our table.
After wiping them down with a damp sponge to remove dust and loose bits, the girls chose some paintbrushes from the rack. Back at the table, the girls equally quickly picked the glaze colours they wanted from the colour guide (the colours are much paler before firing) which we squeezed out on to palettes to make sure they didn’t use too much. Then they were away!
It was lovely to see Dee taking such care over her painting while her friend used big bold strokes. Such different styles and approaches by them both!
Her friend was done within about 10 minutes, whilst Dee took about 45 minutes with a cake break in the middle.
Was pottery painting suitable for toddlers?
I was concerned it would be a bit messy but I think (nearly) 3 was a great age to do it as they had good control over their paint brushes and were able to keep it reasonably clean. Dee got some glaze on her fingers but it’s easily washed off and not dangerous.
We were told at the beginning it’s best to do 3 coats for good coverage, but any more than that and the glaze can crack.
I won’t lie, whilst I tried to make sure she didn’t put too much on, I absolutely didn’t stress about doing enough layers – I think she’s still too young to grasp that concept. She was splodging glaze all over the place rather than being precise about where she put it so it would have been difficult to cover the same areas precisely for a second or third coat.
My other concern was the fact that we had to leave it behind for them to fire in the kiln. I was preparing for a distraught toddler, being made to leave behind her new prize! In an effort to soften the blow, I explained a few times before and during the painting that we would have to leave it to be ‘cooked’ and we could pick it up again next week. After we got over the confusion about not being able to eat it after it was cooked, she was all good! Not even a wobble.
It’s not the cheapest activity – the lowest priced item was around £7, and the race car Dee chose was £10.50 – I think other places have similar prices. You do get something substantial to take away at the end of it though, and they’re great gifts for grandparents or other family members for special occasions.
All in all, it was a great activity to do with a toddler and a great way to spend an hour or so.
The finished piece
We picked the finished piece up yesterday and it looks fab! We used star stickers to make the star shapes, painted over them and picked them off before they were fired.
Have you been pottery painting with a toddler? How did it go? Would you consider it if you haven’t been before?