Nestled in Walton-le-Dale, sandwiched between a row of unassuming shops, is Fired 4 U. It’s a pottery painting workshop run by Jane Fox, a former hotel manager who decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue her passion for arts and crafts.
Having managed a hotel in Preston for 4 years, Jane attended a weekend pottery painting workshop in Pontefract, deciding there and then she wanted to start a creative business.
‘I came back from that weekend and announced I was handing my notice in to start a pottery studio!’ says Jane. ‘A couple of months later I went for a startup course with one of the suppliers and came back with 2 cars full of pottery.’
Jane has been running Fired 4 U for almost 5 years now, initially starting out a mobile business, visiting people in their homes, before moving into a proper studio. The business is very popular with children, and Jane hosts many Birthday parties. Blog Preston went to visit her and watch her paint a plate on the wheel (see below for our video, and for the finished glazed version, click here)
‘Children love putting their names on things they’ve made themselves. They can’t wait to come back the week after and eat from plates that they made. I also get mums telling me that if they knew getting children to eat their tea was as easy as giving them a plate with their name on, they would’ve had personalised plates years ago.’
Personalisation is something that Jane thinks is very important. There’s a sense that you can informally paint a piece of pottery here, and really make it your own. Plates, bowls and vases all adorn the shelves on the walls. Painted mushrooms, fairytale characters and animals also poke their faces out from between lovingly painted pottery. As Jane cheerily chatters away, watching the pottery wheel go round and round is relaxing, hypnotic even. My colleague Daniel remarks that he feels like he’s just had a light nap, to which Jane chuckles.
‘It’s as relaxing to do as it is to watch really. You notice the change in children especially, they all go deathly quiet when they’re working on their plates, concentrating really hard.’
I ask why Jane thinks young children are so calm when painting.
‘I think it’s because they start using the part of the brain that’s more creative. We all get so caught up in schedules and analytical thinking that it’s actually quite hard to talk and do this at the same time!’ she laughs.
It’s interesting to note that some of the pottery in Fired 4 U is a bit rough round the edges, but that just adds to the charm. All handmade, the pieces will never be as pristine as the mass produced items in shops, but they have a distinctive appeal all of their own.
As well as making a unique piece to take away, Jane hopes that she can encourage people who wouldn’t consider themselves arty to come and have a go at painting.
‘It’s really good to convert those who’ve been told for years by their art teachers that they’re useless’ she says. I conjure up memories of my childhood art ‘projects’, malformed pieces of clay and blobs of paint that were still ‘beautiful’ in the eyes of my charitable mother, making me the ideal customer.
‘It’s true though! It gives me great joy letting people get stuck in and make something creative. It’s a bit of a barrier that you have to get over, but you don’t have to be Picasso.’
So what more encouragement do you need? Book a session at Fired 4 U, the perfect pottery painting experience that really is for everyone. Paint a plate that’ll keep you smiling at mealtimes for months to come, or create the ideal customised plate for a Birthday or Christmas present.