Looking in from the outside window of Jessica Kinney’s downtown Centralia shop, you see shelves of unpainted ceramic plates, mugs, and miscellaneous décor. Inside, you’ll also find samples of her own work, from hand-crafted pottery to beaded jewelry. At nearby tables, customers are hard at work, covering their pieces – and sometimes themselves – with colorful ceramic paint. A red neon sign presides over all, bold enough to not need illumination, simply inscribing the word “ART.”
For Kinney, owner of Black Dog Pottery Studio, this is the motivation behind her work. An artist of many trades, she has dabbled in crafts such as woodworking, sign making, reclaimed items, jewelry making, crocheting, and leather tool-work, to name a few. You may recognize the name Black Dog and its logo from her other creative ventures, from Black Dog Art and Photo to Shabby Black Dog vintage products sold at the local Country Chicks Market and the Shady Lady.
A Lewis County native, Kinney lives in Napavine with her husband, Travis, and their dog, Copper, a red coonhound. The namesake for Black Dog was her black lab, Gabby, who passed away in early 2018, and whose spirit lives on in Kinney’s creative ventures.
Kinney always wanted to open her own shop, and that dream came to fruition when she obtained this space from Holly Phelps, owner of the Shady Lady.
Since opening in June 2018, there has been nothing but positive reception and busy weekends for Black Dog Pottery. “The community has really welcomed it; they’re very thankful that we’re here,” said Kinney.
At the paint-your-own pottery studio, customers pick pre-made pieces and paint them to their liking. Kinney provides a wide selection of painting tools, including sponges, etching supplies, bubble painting equipment, and more. She also hosts Workshop Wednesdays in the party room, where she guides classes on specific art pieces, giving them thorough step-by-step instruction.
Once a piece is completed, it’s dipped into a clear glaze and baked in the low-fire kiln at 1,800 degrees. Due to a long drying process and high order volume, most items take about a week to be ready for pick-up.
Between long hours in the new shop and time spent at the kiln, Kinney gets stretched thin from time to time. “It’s been really awesome, but it’s also been really exhausting,” she said.
Fortunately, there’s a reward for all this hard work. Kinney’s favorite part is sitting back and watching customers create new pieces, making discoveries throughout the creative process.
“Once you take the time to sit down and create something, you’re going to be better at it than you think you’re going to be,” she said. “It’s about practice and taking the time to do it. I love giving that opportunity to people.”
Although she’s still learning how to teach classes, Kinney says she would like to expand her services and class offerings. Someday, she’d like to add an open mic night and possibly get a new kiln to teach pottery making lessons. With the addition of local craft beer to the menu, which already includes coffee and hot cocoa, Kinney joked about adding a men’s stein-painting class as well.
“I want to be an outlet for all types of art,” she said.
In addition to providing creative opportunities, Kinney also gives back to the community in other ways. For example, during the holiday season, Black Dog Pottery sponsored a giving tree for the Lewis County Foster Parent Association. Customers who brought in gifts for foster children and their families received a free ornament to paint. The shop also lends its time and services to community events, such as the Lighted Tractor Parade and Girls Night Out.
“It’s a great, local, convenient spot for people,” said Kinney of her shop.
And based on current projections and a high volume of gift card sales, the kiln is just getting warmed up.
Black Dog Pottery
218 North Tower Avenue
Tuesday-Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
No new painters ½ hour before close