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Paint-It-Yourself Pottery


Five years ago, it would have been difficult to have walked into a store to paint, say, a vase with delicate floral designs or a funky pasta bowl. Now, it's possible to walk into a bright, open studio, paint nearly anything your heart desires and have it sitting on your mantle by the next day.

At Color Me Mine, customers come from far and near to paint functional and decorative pottery. Pieces such as vases, mugs, bowls, candlesticks, platters and picture frames can be decorated with 100 types of paints, stencils, decals and glazes. Neither the pottery nor the paint contains lead, and both are safe for dishwashers and microwaves.

Prices for the pottery range from $5 to $50. It costs $6 per hour to paint at the studio, which provides paints, supplies, instruction, access to the store's books and firing of the piece. Pieces are fired in an on-site kiln at 2,200 degrees for nine hours and are available for pickup the following evening.

"I always try to do things with my children that they love and I love," said Cristina Ferrare, a West Los Angeles resident who was painting with her 5-year-old daughter on a recent afternoon.

The idea for the store comes from Robin Monroe, a former casting director, and her husband, Josh Culver, who worked for a local limousine company. When the couple couldn't find a feeding bowl to fit their parrot's cage, they made one themselves and painted it. Then came the idea to set up a studio where people could come and paint almost anything they wanted.

"It was such a flukey idea," Robin Monroe said. "It was one of those accidents that changed my life."

For those concerned about their lack of creative talent, the owners are more than happy to offer a few suggestions. They advise tracing designs or reading some of the store's instructional books to get the hang of things. After painting a few strokes, they say, let the creativity begin.

"It's a very social (experience)," Monroe said. "People have a lot of fun. . . . They find (the painting) therapeutic and relaxing, which keeps the atmosphere mellow."

Color Me Mine has two Westside locations: 633 N. La Brea Blvd., Los Angeles, and 1109 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. Hours are from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are requested. For the Los Angeles location, call (213) 965-0900; Santa Monica: (310) 393-0069.

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