In Highland Park shop, paint own ceramics
A completed ceramic hamburger sits on a shelf as a reference for customers at FiredWorks to paint the colored glaze on in Highland Park. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Location: 1813 St. Johns Ave., Highland Park
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; open Mondays and Tuesdays on no-school and no-camp days.
Specialty: Paint-your-own ceramics
More information: (847) 266-1255; www.hpfiredworks.com
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:23PM
HIGHLAND PARK — In 2004, Highland Park resident Laura Temkin took her love for ceramics and made them her livelihood.
Temkin purchased FiredWorks, a paint-your-own-ceramics shop on the east side of Highland Park’s downtown, from former owner Allison Rosenfeld.
“I knew that I would literally jump out of bed each morning if I knew I was going to be doing ceramics,” said Temkin.
The shop long had been a gathering place for residents, and for the past eight years, Temkin has continued to bring its sense of energy to all who walk through her doors.
Bright pink, orange and green walls enfold visitors just as Temkin’s arms do with the warm hugs and hellos she extends to her regular and new customers.
“In this area, the main things to do are eat and shop. My store brings people together to have fun and interact,” Temkin said. “I love making people feel successful and bringing out their inner artist.”
Eight painting tables fill the room, creating an intimate setting for customers, who often form friendships with those at neighboring tables.
The shop offers a variety of food-safe ceramics available for personalization. Items include bowls, cups, tissue box covers, picture frames and figurines, to name a few.
“These little works of art are something that my customers take home and have their entire lives. These are the pieces that the high school kids take with them to college and these are the pieces that make it on to the dining room table time and time again,” said Temkin.
Customers pay for their ceramic pieces, which range from $5 to $80, as well as an $8 daily painting fee per painter. Available paint colors are numerous, including Little Boy Blue, Old Yeller and Jumpin’ Juniper. Customers are provided with pencils and stickers to map out designs, and their imagination is then free to run wild.
“I give all of my customers tips on how to be successful. If they are having trouble, I’m ready to jump in and help them figure out their art plan,” Temkin said.
Upon completion, pieces are fired in one of Temkin’s two kilns. Customers pick up their masterpieces a week later. They also have the option to return to the shop if they wish to complete the painting of their pieces at a later date.
Tyrone Nelson was hard at work on a salad bowl for the family. He sat next to his 8-year-old son, Anthony, who meticulously painted a piggy bank for his little brother, Niko.
“This is a great activity to bring families and friends together. It provides opportunities for children to grow,” said Nelson. “Everyone leaves with a skill they can use and share with others.”
Fired Works sees an average of 100 customers a week.
Temkin employs many local high school students who she says gain a sense of direction and work ethic. She often receives visits from them when they return home from college.
“It’s just so open and friendly here,” said employee Grace Horgan. “I like that people can express themselves through the art on the pieces they create.”
Temkin is currently seeking a buyer for the shop and said she wishes to sell to someone who will keep Fired Works alive and continue to bring the love of ceramics to those who enter its doors.