Hearts of Clay opens in Columbus

Published 4:24 pm Monday, May 9, 2011

Joanna Vaughn of Inman and Jessica Brock of Landrum, both teachers at O.P. Earle, spent their afternoon last Thursday, May 5, painting ceramic cat figurines at Hearts of Clay in Columbus. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

Tamara Jones and her sister, Heather Condrey, fell in love with the idea of Flying Saucers, a paint-your-own pottery studio in Spartanburg, S.C.
For eight years, they spent their free time there brushing paint strokes across whimsical ceramic pieces as gifts and decorative items for their homes.
The two had been customers of the pottery studio for eight years before purchasing it in August 2010.
Not five months later, Jones and her husband, Jay, were leaving dinner with family at The Brick in Columbus when they noticed a neighboring storefront.
They knew instantly it would be the perfect spot for a second studio. At the time Jones had no clue it was the same spot where her grandfather, Ralph Cochran, once displayed and sold his handiwork.
“I’m renting the same building that my papa rented to make furniture and I’m doing what my grandmother loved to do,” Jones said.
Her grandmother, Ethel Cochran, also loved creating ceramic pieces.
Hearts of Clay officially launched its second studio in Columbus April 1.
The studio offers customers the ability to paint their own pottery pieces – piggy banks, jewelry boxes, travel mugs and platters – in the colors and designs they choose. She said each piece can be as personalized as the customer wishes to make it.
“I know what I wanted as a customer and I think that helps me make good decisions as an owner,” Jones said. “One of the things we changed was getting rid of the studio fees. Now they can sit in here for hours working on a piece, and people love that; you don’t want to have to be on a time schedule.”
Jones explained that instead of paying $6 for every hour in the studio, customers now pay a flat fee for the piece they paint.
“It’s about fun and it’s about relaxing,” Jones said. “Those are two things in the world people need more than anything.”
Landrum resident Jessica Brock, a teacher at O.P. Earle Elementary, needed a hobby and an escape from everyday life.
“I’m glad it’s here because it’s so therapeutic for me,” she said. “I needed something to come and do after work, something to get me out of the house.”
Jones said she’s happy to hear the shop provides a great atmosphere and “something else to do in Columbus.”
The studio plans to host a seven-week homeschool program for the area beginning in September. Hearts of Clay already hosts birthday parties, summer camps and fundraisers. For fundraisers, Jones said organizations could receive 15 percent of costs from all pieces sold.
Hearts of Clay plans to host a grand opening event May 21 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Jones said there will be prizes and giveaways such as a free birthday party.

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