La Grange ceramic shop more than artistic expression
Thomas Rademaker admires the inside of his decorated bowl. He had his 8th birthday party at Ceramic Art Cafe. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
In the cafe
Name: Ceramic Art Cafe
Address: 26 S. La Grange Road, La Grange
Phone: (708) 579-3033
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Updated: February 21, 2013 10:38AM
LA GRANGE — For those who consider the art-making process a form of therapy, Ceramic Art Café in La Grange aims to soothe the creative soul.
The studio offers a relaxed setting where guests can take refuge from the stresses of everyday life by shifting their focus to creative art design.
Guests come to the paint-your-own pottery studio to eat, drink and chat while designing a one-of-a-kind piece of ceramic art work that is fired in a kiln and picked up a week later.
Owners Sue and William Martin opened the business 15 years ago, and have since hosted more than 5,000 painting parties for groups ranging in age from 5-year-olds to adults.
“Art therapy is relaxing because it gets people away from the everyday stresses of life by forcing you to change pace and slow down,” Sue said. “Everyone is a Picasso here because art is truly in the eye of the beholder—a child can have the messiest looking art piece and they’re enthralled with it.”
Here’s how it works: customers can either walk in anytime during business hours for an impromptu painting session or book a group party in advance.
They select a piece from a collection of hundreds of white bisque ceramic items such as dishes, wine glasses, jewelry boxes and vases, and then sit down to design and paint their masterpiece using paint, stencils, sponges and brushes.
Ceramic Art Café has turned into a popular spot for “moms night out,” where groups of ladies bring bottles of wine and spend a night painting and chatting away.
Wedding showers are also common. Sue Martin said bridal parties often come in to paint pieces for the bride as an alternative to traditional china sets and other dishes that appear on gift registries.
Ceramic Art Café has also turned into a popular date spot.
“Last weekend two couples on a double date came in and said it was a better idea than going to a movie because the four of them could sit there and paint while getting to know each other,” Martin said.
The idea to start the business was sparked by a trip to Door County, Wis., the Martins took almost two decades ago, when they stumbled across an art studio hosting therapeutic painting sessions.
Sue Martin had been running a medical billing and coding business from home for nearly 30 years and was ready to retire after raising three sons.
“I decided I wanted to get out of the house, and this seemed like the perfect business idea for me because it allowed me to follow my love of painting,” she said. “We just love doing what we do and feel blessed.”