The Pottery Burn changes hands
The pick and paint studio has been located on Superior's Tower Avenue since 2019.
SUPERIOR — At The Pottery Burn studio in Superior on July 15, Nicole Presuhn and Ashley Willis sat together, painting a memory of friendship that could last for years.
When Presuhn reaches for the utensil holder she painted, or Willis pulls out the serving platter she made, they may recall this moment.
“You can remember when you were with a friend painting it,” Presuhn said. “It’s really fun.”
That’s part of the reason they’ve been stopping by the studio for years. The other is the ability to put their own stamp on items they use every day.
“These are things that we’re going to use in our lives, but it’s going to be personal as to the way we want it to be,” Willis said.
“You can make what you want to make with all the colors,” Preshun said. “Any idea you have, and you get to have fun with a friend.”
The 10-year-old business, which moved to Superior’s Tower Avenue in 2019, is under new ownership. Gina Wheeler purchased the business from Amanda Korhonen June 1.
“I’ve always been artistic,” said Wheeler, a University of Minnesota Duluth graduate.
While she enjoys painting and collage work, pottery was something new to her. Wheeler trained with Korhonen for months before taking the helm of the business. She also employs two additional staff members.
Over the past 10 years Wheeler has worked for a variety of local organizations and businesses, most recently as a manager for Duluth Trading Company.
“That kind of prepped me, I think, to be cognizant of business operations and the things that go into it. Of course, it’s very different then owning a small business,” Wheeler said.
The move to business ownership also means she now shoulders more responsibility, but being her own boss has been a positive change.
“I absolutely love it. I feel like I’m on vacation,” Wheeler said.
Going from downtown Duluth to Superior has been another change for Wheeler. She said she’s excited to see Tower Avenue continue to develop, and appreciates the walk-in traffic spurred by the many neighboring businesses.
Wheeler plans to shake up the interior color palette of the studio, steering more toward neutral colors than pastels, and tweak hours to stay open later. The Pottery Burn currently offers pottery that visitors can pick and paint as well as canvases to paint on. Classes are offered for hand-made bowls, as well.
People don’t need to be artists to paint their own pottery. Wheeler and her staff can provide instruction and help with painting techniques, stenciling and special effects if visitors need it. Classes on new painting techniques are also offered.
Wheeler said she would like to bring in a pottery wheel for thrown ceramics projects and add other artistic activities, such as nail-and-string art. She wants to capitalize on the fact that the paint-your-own pottery studio is one of a kind in the Twin Ports.
“People are definitely looking for more experiences, or things to experience, and I think that we create that,” Wheeler said.
People can bring their own food and drink, hang out for the afternoon and create a ceramic piece that reflects them. Wheeler said they should expect to spend one to three hours at the task. It’s both a shared experience and an individual one.
“It has the potential to really bring a lot of people together without the screens, without other distractions,” Wheeler said. “I can definitely serve a lot of our community that way. I feel like families, friends, anyone who’s not looking to hang out in a bar, essentially, this is a great option for you to still enjoy time with people while creating something, which I love.”
The Pottery Burn is open from 2-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The studio can also be rented for private events. Wheeler said they’ve held everything from birthday and graduation parties to a bachelorette party. For next week’s Sidewalk Sales event, which runs July 27-29, The Pottery Burn will be offering discounted prices on pre-painted samples, and run a special price of $45 for a mug, plate and bowl.