Q. Poke-A-Nose Pottery is family owned and operated, right? Tell us about yourselves and when you got started.
A. We are a family owned and operated business. In the beginning, Jason and I (Kelly) met at the University of Tampa in Florida and got married in the beautiful Poconos on October 13, 2000. I grew up in the Poconos and graduated from Stroudsburg High School (Go Mounties!), so I consider myself a Pennsylvania girl. Jason graduated from Osceola High School in Kissimmee, FL. Jason has a BA in Music/Music Education with trombone/brass, and I have a BFA in Fine Art with concentrations in ceramics and painting and a BA in Psychology. My LOVE for art naturally brought the two art forms together, so painting ON pottery was a perfect choice for my career in life. The studio had a bittersweet start. My mother passed away in 1999, and, with my small inheritance and an angel on my shoulder, Jason and I started Poke-A-Nose Pottery on August 1, 2002. Without my Mom, Poke-A-Nose Pottery would still just be a dream. Then, after almost a decade of trying, we finally added a member to the Poke-A-Nose family. Drake joined us on August 20, 2010 and helped with our booth at the West End Fair at four days old. He’s been “helping” ever since!
Q. This was one of the first interactive art studios in our area. How did you come up with the idea and bring it to life?
A. Our studio is considered a contemporary studio. This idea started in the 90s, either in California or New York City – there is a big debate over that. While we attended the University of Tampa, there were four or five studios within a few miles of the campus. Some came to the university to do activities with the students and some we went to just for fun. After a few years, we realized we REALLY liked it and did lots of research on how to start one. One day, about a month before Jason graduated, I received a call that my grandfather was very sick and we need to move to take care of my grandparents. Just two days after Jason’s graduation, we moved to PA. After helping my grandpa get back to a healthier state, Jason and I started looking for a storefront while taking grandpa to dialysis and back, three days a week. Finally, we found a modest place in a good location with lots of room. We rented it, ordered the pottery, kilns, tables and chairs, and paint – everything needed to start a Paint-Your-Own Pottery Studio. Jason’s dad is a wood worker by trade and helped us build over 60 feet of wooden shelving and cabinets from scratch. It was SO much fun! We opened the studio doors on August 1, 2002 with proud grandparents, shelving barely scattered with pottery, eight tables, 32 chairs, a few bins of design tools, 40 colors (without a color chart), zero kilns, and LOTS of hopes and dreams! Don’t worry, the kilns came four days later.
Q. Owning a business and running a family is a lot! How do you manage both?
A. Owning a business and running a family is VERY hard! We have an amazing son who has been a part of the business since before he was even born. He learned to crawl, walk, talk, and run all at the studio. For us, business and family go together. We have made LOTS of family memories at the studio, and they are SO cherished. However, it can be hard when both the studio and the family need our full attention at the same time. Our son has, unfortunately, learned that sometimes business comes first. We have to miss out on many events and plans because the business is how we make our money and feed our family. The balance of the two is very tricky. Our family is part of our business, which can be a tug of war at times. The number one thing that helps us balance business and family is having a few awesome and trustworthy employees so we can get out of the studio once in a while.
Q. What can a new customer find at Poke-A-Nose Pottery?
A. We have more than just pottery to paint; we have a welcoming atmosphere, creativity, laughter, happiness, imagination, and wonder, too. Okay, besides all that, we have a relatively new art medium in our studio called Glass Fusion. Glass Fusion is a pretty “hot” art form – it is the process of layering glass pieces that have the same melting and cooling temps and creating a design with the different glass colors and shapes. The glass is not hot when you design it; it stays at room temperature while you work with it. Then, we fire your glass creation in a kiln to fuse, or melt, it together. It’s a neat process. All of our art mediums need to be finished by being fired in a kiln, which is a seven day process. There is no need to be intimidated to come into the studio. We have many ways of helping you make a wonderful piece of art. From stamps and stencils to different techniques and artists on staff, we can help you with ideas and designs.
Q. What is something special that people might not know about Poke-A-Nose Pottery?
A. Most people don’t know how long we have been in business – we are in year 17! Many people don’t know that I have a fine art degree and Jason has a music degree. I think the most special thing is that we do a lot with the community. We give thousands of dollars in donations each year to local charities, auctions, and tricky trays. We tell kids about how much fun it is to own an artistic business at local schools’ career days. We do many events with children’s camps, daycares, churches, scout troops, and other non-profit groups.
Q. As we head into fall, is there anything new people can look forward to?
A. We always look forward to our fall inspired classes, like our Leaf Painting technique class, where we paint glazes on real, fresh-picked leaves and press them onto a plate or platter. It looks amazing and professional! We also do many Mommy & Me classes for toddlers, school age classes, a super fun Halloween Party, and many, many Hand Print Turkey platters, just to name a few.
Q. Poke-A-Nose Pottery is fun for all ages, but is there a certain age group that you serve most?
A. You are right, we do cater to all ages. We can do hand and footprint pieces with babies, and toddlers make the most adorable and colorful messes, I mean masterpieces! School age children are SO involved when they are painting, both physically and mentally. Adults also need art as a stress eater. Seriously, after a few brush strokes, the stress starts to melt away. Our most common artists are from 3-13 as well as adults. We get about 56% children and 44% adults in the studio.
Q. You also host birthday parties, too! What can someone having a party there expect?
A. Birthday parties are SO much fun for the kids and SO easy for the parents! There are several aspects that make us stand out from other birthday places. At Poke-A-Nose, we have a private party room, so walk-in customers don’t interfere. We also set aside the specific pieces you choose, whether it’s pottery, glass, or clay, so the guests don’t see ALL of the items on our shelves. Once projects are completed, we clear away pieces and wipe down tables, so the party can continue with food, cake, and games…whatever the parents choose. We even clean up! Items are labeled by name for easy distribution a week after the party date. Besides birthday parties, we also cater to scout troops, church groups, camps, adult birthdays, and more. We have the lowest minimum around, starting at six guests, and our party room holds up to 20 guests. We have plenty of room for large groups in the main studio, seating for about 60, with special reservations needed in advance.
Q. Do you need to have any artistic ability to have some fun at Poke-A-Nose Pottery?
A. NO artistic ability is needed to make awesome artwork. We have many ways of “cheating,” including stamps, stencils, sponges, and creative employees that can draw for you. If you see something you love, we can figure out the best way to help you get very close to creating the same thing. If you have been to the studio, you know we have LOTS of ideas for inspiration all around the studio. Something is sure to catch your eye and spark your imagination.
Q. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
A. Support your local businesses. Mom and pop shops, like us, need you. You help us put meals on the table, allow our son to explore interests like music and karate, and enable us to have employees so we can spend more time with our family. Your support is all we need, and, in turn, we will support your family. We will help you make memories of painting together, laughing together, and spending time WITH each other (without a phone/tablet). Poke-A-Nose is a great place to escape the rush and stress of everyday life. You can spend a moment together and capture that memory in a piece of pottery that will last thousands of years. We’re not just your rainy day activity, we’re your ANY day activity. •
3400 Rt. 611, Suite 101, Bartonsville, PA