Customers develop glaze-craze as they help Port Angeles business thrive

11″Sometimes I feel like I need more room,” Rees said, standing in her business, looking at tables full of adults and children, all busily creating personalized Christmas gifts and ornaments.

Aglazing Art Studio is located downtown at 207 W. First St., the former site of Wood-n-Shoe, which has relocated.

Rees has the paint-your-own market cornered on the North Olympic Peninsula. The only similar venture, a shop in Sequim, closed earlier this year.

The shop offers a wide variety of unfired bisque pottery, and all the tools to turn it from white to “wow,” as well as wet clay for custom work and materials to create fused glass art.

“We are a full-service fired arts studio,” she said.

Started with two tents

Rees started out in 2006 ­– May 30 to be exact — with two tents and seating for 12 at the Port Angeles farmers market.

“I wanted to test the market and see if people were interested,” she said. “I’ve always liked art. It’s always been a hobby for me.”

They were interested, and she continued to offer her paint-your-own services at festivals and the Clallam County Fair through the summer of 2006.

In October 2006, she rented a 900-square-foot space on Front Street, near Race Street, where she was in business for almost three years.

“In November and December, it was standing room only,” she said.

After two successful years, she decided to expand. It took her nine months to find a bigger location, settling on the space in a large, wooden building on the west end of First Street.

She signed a lease on the building Aug. 7 and set to work remodeling and upgrading the space.

After removing old carpeting, she discovered much of the original wooden floor was covered with four inches of concrete.

She and manager Corina Felt set to work smashing it up and hauling it to the dumpster, one scoop at a time.

“There were 8.4 tons to be exact,” Rees said.

She opened one month later and has not felt the economic slowdown that has afflicted some downtown businesses.

“I wonder how I did it in a smaller space,” she said. “This is perfect for what we need.”

The front of the store contains work tables and shelves full of paint and pottery objects.

Christmas creations

This time of year, it’s all about ornaments and gifts, such as the hand and footprint angel plates made by the Halberg family.

Mother Christine Halberg said Thursday that the studio has been great for her family, Emi, 6, Lily, 4, and Maryrose, 2.

All the children have created the keepsake angel plates, using prints of their bare feet for the angel’s body and their tiny hands for wings.

Christine has created a variety of items over several visits.

“I’m not an artist,” she said. “The help here is awesome for giving ideas.”

Rees said the studio has a variety of stamps and tools to assist in the creation process.

At another table, 6-year-old Maizie Tucker methodically bounced a paint-covered sponge on a plate, the first layer of her creation, a “layer cake” made with her handprint as the layers.

She announced it was a Christmas present for Grandma.

Rees said the best sellers this time of year are ornaments, mugs and cereal bowls.

Prices range from $3 up to $45 and include all materials and sales tax.

After Rees’ customers have painted their creations, she takes them to a kiln at her house, where she fires them to harden the paint into glaze, then returns them for customers to pick up.

She said the process takes one week, although she can do rush orders in three days, for an extra fee.

“They are more work because I literally have to baby-sit them through the process,” she said of the rush orders.

A large sign in the shop advises that Dec. 17 — Thursday — is the last day to create projects for Christmas.

In addition to walk-in customers, Aglazing Art Studio can serve birthday parties or after-hours parties, at which participants can bring food and beverages.

While the front of the studio resembles Santa’s workshop, full of little elves hard at “work,” the back room is more serene, with tables set up for cutting glass and assembling fused glass creations.

The fused glass is a more expensive venture than the pottery, starting at $7 and going up to $65 for the base plates, and increasing depending on materials used.

On Thursday, Chandra McGoff of Port Angeles was laying thin glass rods on squares of clear glass, which would become votive candle holders.

“I like that it doesn’t have to be perfect,” she said. “It can have flaws, and no one knows.”

McGoff said she has spent a lot of time — and money — at the studio.

“Almost all my Christmas presents are coming from here,” she said.


Features Editor Marcie Miller can be reached at 360-417-3550 or [email protected]

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