June 17, 2020

Color Me Mine, Paint Your Own Pottery Is Now Open For In-Studio Painting

CREATIVE COLOR: “I like the idea of making art more accessible to people. All ages enjoy coming to Color Me Mine, including kids from 3 and up, as well as their parents and grandparents. They all like to come and paint and create!” Krystal Spadafora, second from right, owner of Color Me Mine in the Princeton Shopping Center, is shown with her husband and co-owner Tom Spadafora, and their three children, from left, Erik, Emily, and Katy.

By Jean Stratton

Explore your inner artist! Release your creativity! Are you ready?

These opportunities are waiting for you at Color Me Mine, the “Paint Your Own Pottery” studio in the Princeton Shopping Center.

Originally opened March 19, “it got off to a great start,” says owner Krystal Spadafora, and then COVID-19 forced a changed in everyone’s lives, including owners of business establishments, and the business was put on hold.

“We were so encouraged with the initial response from customers, and also, all the other Shopping Center merchants were so welcoming,” reports Krystal, who co-owns the business with her husband Tom Spadafora.

“Now, we are so happy to reopen. We look forward to sharing all our programs and workshops with customers and encouraging them to create and have fun.”

Twists and Turns

The Spadaforas’ journey to Color Me Mine took many twists and turns, and is really the result of a remarkable story.

Krystal Spadaforas’ previous career was as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry, with a focus on human resources and leadership development.

“I was very career-oriented,” she notes, but unexpected circumstances forced her to change her life dramatically eight years ago. Following an illness, stemming from a brain/skull condition, Chiari malformation, she had to leave her pharmaceutical job. After successful surgery, treatment included art therapy, which was very beneficial.

“I had never been interested in art,” she explains, “but the art therapy was so helpful, and I began to enjoy it. I also had a change in my personality. I became more relaxed. I was always a type A, but now I wanted to take more time to enjoy things. And I have a family, with three kids, and I wanted to spend more time with them. Then I heard about Color Me Mine, and it seemed like the perfect answer for me.”

Initially, the Spadaforas opened a Color Me Mine studio in Hamilton in May of 2019. Then the mall in which they were situated closed, and a new location became necessary. The business had done very well, and they definitely wanted to continue.

“We very much liked the idea of being in Princeton,” reports Krystal. “We thought it would be a good match for Color Me Mine. Also, we really like the Shopping Center location. It’s very family-friendly, and everyone has been so nice.”

Painted Pottery

An independently-owned franchise, Color Me Mine is one of 150 in the U.S. and abroad. Started in California 25 years ago, it has become a wide-ranging success.

The concept is very appealing. Customers can select an item — anything from a vase to a piggy bank to a fire engine — to paint, and then it will be glazed, and fired in a kiln. And voila! A special piece of painted pottery for your very own — or as a hand-done gift for a special recipient.

Everything you need to create your own personal masterpiece is available at the colorful studio. Tables and chairs for your work space and  fun displays highlight the large room. Paints in 60 different colors, plus specialty paints, brushes, and sponges are all provided.

“We use non-toxic paints, and all our products are completely safe,” says Krystal. In addition, they are dishwasher- and microwave-safe.

Instructors are on hand to help with advice and techniques, and step-by-step help is available for people to get started on their project. The process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. An hour-and-half time frame is often typical, and there is no time limit.

Manager and creative artist Alexia (Lexi) Sullivan provides special guidance. In addition to the pottery, painting on canvas is also offered.

Pots and Planters

Once the pottery has been painted, it must dry for 24 hours, then it is glazed, and dried for another 24 hours. After this, it is baked in the kiln for seven hours, and then cooled for 12 to 15 hours. It will be available for the customer in about a week’s time.

“We want customers to enjoy themselves and relax,” points out Krystal. “They can be very comfortable asking questions. We are here to help them create something they will be proud of, and also have fun with. Choices can be whimsical and decorative like animal figures or Star Wars characters, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Ryan’s World characters, or functional such as wine coolers, cookie jars, vases, bowls, spoon rests, trays, mugs, flower pots, and planters.

“Kids love the Ryan’s World and Marvel characters,” she adds. “And girls, especially, love the horse and unicorn figures. Dogs and cats are always popular, and also llamas have become a big favorite, along with pineapples. In addition, faceted animals are now in demand, with their different look.”

Literally hundreds of different items in all sizes are available to paint, and certainly, there is one for everyone’s taste — and artistic bent.

Moment in Time

Some customers like to capture a moment in time, and baby footprints and children’s handprints have become very popular choices to memorialize on a plate, platter, or mug.

There is also a display of pieces already painted to give ideas and encouragement.

Skill is really irrelevant, notes Krystal, although some customers do take on more complicated projects, which require more time. “The idea is to come and have fun. The most important benefit of Color Me Mine is that it is a safe place and outlet to explore your creativity. And we all have it! It can also open your mind to new areas and ideas you never considered.

“This is a great chance for us to connect with kids and also to connect with the community and schools. In addition, it can be a fun Girls Night Out. If a group of women want to have a night out, they can come and be together to create and try doing something new. And they can bring wine and food, if they want.”

Color Me Mine will also offer weekly workshops for adults and children and summer camp for kids (ages 6 and up) In July.

“Camp will be held in the studio,” says Krystal, “but we will also have kits for virtual summer projects, which will include a variety of projects.”

All Levels

The opportunities at Color Me Mine are available for people of all levels of ability, she emphasizes. “In Hamilton, we had special needs adults who came, including those with autism and Down syndrome. They responded very well, and enjoyed having something different to do. It is also a chance for others to share the space with special needs individuals.”

Now that the studio is open, it will follow all the state safety regulations. Masks and social distancing will be required.

“In the beginning, we want people to make a reservation,” points out Krystal. “We will have social distancing and also two or three tables outside, and a separate space for parties. Birthday parties for kids have always been very popular at Color Me Mine. We also have a very strict cleaning protocol. If we touch it, we clean it!”

Costs for painting include $25 to $30 for a child, and $35 for adults per hour.

Krystal is very enthusiastic about the reopening, and looks forward to greeting all the clients. “I especially enjoy the customer interaction. I love to see them tap into their creativity, as I have tapped into mine. We are excited about sharing with the community, and helping everyone to have an individual art experience. It is a pleasure to bring this opportunity to people. You are only limited by your imagination!”

Color Me Mine is open Sunday and Monday 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call for a reservation at (609) 581-9500. Website: princeton.colormemine.com.