Passionately Potty

Feature by Simone Gray | 15 Jul 2006

There is but a handful of social alternatives in Glasgow that don't encourage us to pass our free hours boozing or enjoying the effects of yet another caffeine buzz. But for those who don't follow the herd, Great Western Road in the West End has a little place called Go Potty Ceramic Studio that is providing a colourful and artistic alternative to mainstream options.

The aptly named studios have been opened for over a year, and in the rather spacious surrounds much has gone on in that time. The idea of a café where you could choose a ready made ceramic and pattern it to your own liking, whether you be a master or a muppet with a paintbrush, is not totally foreign. Yet, until recently, Glasgow, unlike other metropolises like London, had been unexplored territory on this front and offered an ideal location for owner and self-confessed enthusiast Katherine Kerr to launch the concept. In truth, when down in London, Katherine became so used to the pleasures of creating her very own personal ceramic range as a relaxing leisure activity that when she arrived up north, the thought of having to make do with the mass produced - and in comparison very plain - crockery displeased her very much. And so the idea of a ceramic studio café that could serve the public a creative alternative was born.

After a two-year process, Go Potty opened its doors to the Glasgow public. First and foremost the paint-it-yourself option is the driving force behind the idea. If walking in off the street, it really couldn't be simpler to unleash your creative beast. The ready made ceramics line the wall and range in use and style from one of the cheaper options of a coffee mug at a fair price of £5, to figurines, teapots, jugs, bowls, plant pots and even dishes for your favourite furry friend (of the canine or feline species), to the most expensive option of large plates and platters that go for around £39.99. Once your object of focus has been chosen, seat yourself down and away you go. Everything you might need is at hand including brushes, sponges and stamps and an exciting range of colours with some inspiring names like Hawaiian Blue and Spearmint. If you are intent of some sort of caffeine buzz, there is a limited choice of snacks and beverages available to oil your creative machine.

Happily, the most pleasing aspect of this design process is that your efforts don't need to conform to any floral preconceptions and can, like some of the examples on display, include just about anything. My favourite one was the black mug with a skull and cross bones. Take that and drink it with your cuppa for a bit of morning cheer. But if a Monet or Van Gogh is your heart's desire, this is your chance to give it a bash.

Once you've finished your masterpiece, for a studio fee around the £3 mark, the staff whisk your work away to glaze and bake - to ready it for taking it home and frightening your flatmates.

If you would like to be part of the process from start to finish, the studios also offer pottery classes. Initially an induction class for a mere £15 will help you evaluate whether this tactile route is one worth exploring. Once decided, you then have the option of learning the skills of clay and wheel by signing up for a ten-week beginner course priced at £120 or an advanced ten-week course for £140.

If you still don't think pottery is for you, bear in mind that any artistic endeavour can truly be the therapy you might need. In fact, this route has impressed people so much that surrounding councils have been collaborating with the studio to provide art therapy. Small work groups have been set up for a range of people including groups of autistic kids, arthritic elders and refugees. "Clay is a great medium for therapy," owner Katherine says, "whether it be to fine-tune motor skills in a gentle way, or to provide a relaxed space to converse, interact and therefore learn. Seeing the creation inevitably has a knock-on morale-boosting effect." Perhaps it'll have the same effect on us.

Go Potty Ceramic Studio, 691 Great Western Road, Glasgow.