Wendy Ives

Wendy Ives, owner of Artful Designs studio in Bloomington, IL, has had great success with her Paint Your Own Pottery business since 1999 that started as a mobile studio, inviting people to paint out of her kitchen and basement. She has recently integrated Mayco Stoneware into her studio creating stunning pieces and holding classes virtual and in-store to introduce more PYOP artists into stoneware.

Interview with Wendy Ives

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Charlevoix, MI, which is my most favorite place in the whole world. I went to Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI for high school, which started my love for the arts and ceramics. I have a BA from Albion College, with a concentration in Ceramics in 1989. I am a mother to 2 grown sons who I’m extremely proud of, and I’ve lived in Bloomington, IL for 30 years.  

How did you get into PYOP?

I had gone to a small PYOP studio in Northern Michigan with a friend and thought it would be a really fun business to start. Once my boys were in school full time, it seemed like the right time. What started as a hobby turned into a full-blown business. My husband, whom I have been married to for 30 years, helped me start my PYOP business in 1999, working out of my home. I invited people to come paint in my kitchen and basement. As my mobile studio grew, I moved out of my home into a brick and mortar in 2001. I’ve been in my current location since 2004. 

How long has your store been open?

22 years, the first two out of my home. 

How do Mayco glazes and products fit into your work?

All of my stoneware currently is made by Mayco. I hope to create some of my own in the near future, but for now this is exclusively what I use. Mayco Stroke and Coats are my main color line in my studio and Mayco Stoneware Glazes are the ones I use 98% of the time. I’d like to dabble a little more with their Jungle Gems and Elements. Of course, I use those in my studio as well! I love it all! 

Your Stoneware classes are a huge hit! How did you get started with Stoneware?

The pandemic played a pretty big role in my exploration with Stoneware. I had some in my studio that I had purchased previously but didn’t know how to sell it. It just sat there. I had to close my studio for almost 2 months, so I started experimenting a little at home and then decided to take the Mayco Virtual Stoneware Pottery Camp in September of 2020 to learn more and figure out how to sell it better in my studio. The project library on Mayco’s website has been very helpful with ideas as well as Mayco Mud Room Society on Facebook.  Everyone is always so willing to share and you never know what’s going to inspire you. I was able to use this inspiration to make it my own. The beauty of Stoneware is that no two ever turn out the same. And I wanted to challenge myself to make flux more user friendly instead being discouraged to use in the PYOP setting. Getting comfortable in front of a camera is something I thought I’d NEVER do. The pandemic forced me to do this, and it’s been a blessing. It’s become a very important part of my business doing Facebook Lives and teaching online classes. People love to see their pottery come out of the kiln. This was something that was always done behind the scenes. Now these live broadcasts have become second nature for me, and I highly recommend getting over that fear and just doing it! Sharing my client’s projects and my own stoneware to different groups on Facebook and the feedback I received gave me the encouragement I needed to host my first online class.  

What’s your favorite part about owning a PYOP studio?

I love the interaction that I have with my customers on a daily basis. A lot of my creative inspiration comes from them. And seeing the joy that painting pottery brings to so many people. I think it’s one of the biggest stress relievers there is. I also love having the ability to collaborate with friends that I’ve made in the industry and bring ideas to life in my own space, and be creative along the way.  

What is some advice you would give to someone who wants to open their own PYOP studio?

I would suggest not taking on too many mediums at once. Start small and add as you go. And try and find the best help that you can. Having a good POS System in place is extremely helpful, and try to stay as organized as possible and continue to educate yourself. Joining the Contemporary Ceramic Studio Association is a must and an incredible resource for support. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming classes/workshops?

November and December are my busiest months in my PYOP studio because everyone loves holiday related gifts. I will be concentrating on more online classes starting after the holidays. For now, my Recorded Online Stoneware Class Using Flux is available for purchase any time. It’s been fun to see how I’ve inspired people all over the world to explore with flux and make it their own. 

What are your top 3 favorite Mayco product?

If I have to choose three, they would be Sandstone Stoneware Glaze, Light Flux and all Stroke and Coats! I’m a bit obsessed with Mayco’s products, and I want to have all the colors! It’s really hard for me to pick just 3 products! 

What do you do when you’re not working?

Exercise is a huge stress reliever for me. I usually start my day on my Peloton Bike and then I walk my dog, Mila. I’m a huge animal lover and sit on the board of my local Humane Society. I would like to sell more of my work, so I try and create as much as possible outside of my PYOP studio. I also enjoy travel when we can and love spending time with my family in Northern Michigan. 

Projects by Wendy Ives