Sometimes a smile can make someone’s day.
Other times, a smile can change a person’s life.
It was a smile that led Christine and Dameian Shepard to open their paint-your-own-pottery studio, Just Kiln’ Time, in downtown Menomonee Falls across from at N88W16758 Main St. The Shepards opened the pottery studio Saturday, and will hold a grand opening in a few weeks.
The Shepards' daughter, Aaliyah, was born with cerebral palsy and can seem unresponsive to many things in her environment. About five years ago, the family was painting pottery at a similar type of studio in the Wisconsin Dells. Christine said they affectionately brushed her hand with a little paint and something happened.
“When we painted her hand, she started laughing. We were so surprised,” Christine said. “We were very touched too. That's what got us started.”
Shepard said she started holding pottery-painting parties at her home, and as popularity grew the family eventually opened a brick-and-mortar studio in Slinger. However, they weren’t getting the traffic they expected in Slinger, and moved to Menomonee Falls to get a spot in the busy Village Centre.
“We started with birthday parties, and the kids just loved it. It continued to grow from there,” Shepard said.
At Just Kiln’ Time, customers choose from a wide variety of pottery items to paint themselves. Anything from plates, vases, holiday-themed figures, piggy banks, and more line the shelves at the studio. Then, customers grab a collection of paints, stencils, and other items and add their personal touch to their pottery.
After the item is fired in a kiln, customer’s then have a unique creation of their own a week later. It’s also a great way to gather the family for a fun, hands-on, artistic afternoon.
There's a week turnaround to allow Shepard time to glaze the item, fire it in a 2,000-degree kiln, and let it set for another 48 hours.
“The thing I find most rewarding about this business is all the people I have met,” Shepard said. “I’ve never met more people than I have over the past few years.”
Items run from $4 to $30 on average, and a $6 studio fee is added on top for paint, brushes, and firing the item in the kiln. Just Kiln' Time will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon. through Fri., and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun.
Shepard said Just Kiln’ Time is about a lot more than just painting, however. She will hold special classes to teach specific painting techniques like striping, footprints, stamping, and stenciling. Shepard also plans to add clay and glass projects to customer options in the near future.
Customers can also rent out the Just Kiln’ Time studio for parties, which can accommodate up to 50 people. Shepard also plans to host her own after-hours parties called, “Diva Nights”. She’ll serve wine, teach a few techniques, and open the studio up for interested women. Parties will be held as people sign up.
If you happen to stop by Just Kiln’ Time, be sure to ask about Bella – their new Chinese Shar Pei puppy. She’s irresistibly cute, and is also the unofficial wrinkled ‘guard dog’ of the studio.
If you have any other question about Just Kiln’ Time, give them a call at (262) 255-KILN. You can also reach them online or via Facebook.