Interview with Brian Hockman

Paint-Your-Own Pottery at Claymates.  Photo: Liza Becker
Paint-Your-Own Pottery at Claymates. Photo: Liza Becker

Owner of Claymates, Located in Dillsboro & Waynesville, NC

interviewed by Dennis Ray

Claymates is owned and operated by Carrie and Brian Hockman. They currently offer Paint-Your-Own Pottery and DIY Glass Fusing. Daily, monthly, and ongoing specials and discounts are available, as well as specialty nights, group discounts, party packages, and fundraising opportunities.

Rapid River Magazine: Talk a little about how you first got into business.

Brian Hockman: It was an accident. Our Dillsboro store was originally designed to showcase my nature photography (along with other local artists). ‘Claymates’ was merely a side project that my wife wanted to try using a spare corner in the gallery.

Needless to say, Claymates soon gained momentum and within nine months we moved to a larger facility to accommodate the growing interest. Little by little the gallery was phased out as the popularity of ‘paint-you-own-pottery’ grew. In July, 2012, the start of our 4th year, we opened a second location in Waynesville (Hazelwood Ave.).

RRM: Tell us a little about what you have to offer.

BH: For pottery, we offer a wide selection of plates, mugs, bowls, figurines, picture frames, kitchenware, etc. You pick the piece from the shelf and choose your paint colors; we have dozens available. We’ll then glaze and kiln-fire your piece(s) so that they are durable, waterproof, and food safe. The process generally takes up to a week.

Glass Fusing is new to most people. Basically, you start with a square or round glass ‘blank’ to which you glue colorful bits and pieces of glass your make the design of your choice. We teach you how to use our glass cutting tools to gets the desired shapes.

After everything is glued in place, we kiln-fire your project and ‘fuse’ everything together. We can take it one step further if you choose, and re-fire it over a mold so that it takes on one of a variety of shapes we offer. Sun-catchers, jewelry pendants, candle votives, bowls, and nightlight are just some of the projects we offer.

RRM: It’s a great place to hold a birthday party. What does this all include?

BH: Birthdays are a popular choice (which is one of the reasons we initially moved to a larger facility!) For $100, we offer two hours in the party room, eight pieces of pottery off our ‘party shelf’, a dinner plate thumb-printed by all the party guests (with the birthday child’s handprint in the center), and a friendly staff member to help orchestrate the event. You are welcome to bring food, decorations, clowns, ponies, you name it!

RRM: What are the most popular items or projects you offer?

BH: Handprints and footprints on pottery are very popular. They make great gifts for the family. As for particular pieces, owls, zombies and painted on mustaches are very trendy right now, don’t ask me why.

Flattened wine bottles are popular, too. You bring us a wine bottle and $5 (it’s ok if it’s full, we’ll empty it for you!), and we’ll flatten it in our kiln. They are very useful for spoon holders, cheese trays, or just to commemorate a special occasion.

RRM: Any specials or events you would like to share with us?

BH: We offer specials nearly every day including discounts for seniors, good grades, collegiate students and staff, hospital employees, etc. Check out

As for events, our most popular is our monthly Ladies Night; we alternate month to month between the two studios. We provide free hors d’oeuvres, and discount pottery and glass by 20%. Other specialty events we’ve hosted include Wine & Dine (where I cook for everybody!), Margarita Nights, Mommy & Me days, and Kid’s Nights.

We are also very excited to announce our first ever Painting Techniques Class at our Dillsboro location. Mark Sundie, a Duncan Paints Seminar Ambassador, will be travelling in from Knoxville on Saturday, June 15 to teach a three hour class. Call us at (828) 631-3133 to register.

Claymates Pottery
31 Front Street, Dillsboro, NC
(828) 631-3133
460 Hazelwood Avenue,
Waynesville, NC, (828) 246-9595
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