Paint Your Way to Happiness at Hot Plate Pottery

Alright, I’m not an artist by any means. Ask me to draw a person, and I’ll draw you a stick figure. Ask me to draw a tree; it’s going to be a brown trunk with a giant green blob on top of it. This is why I did not go to Hot Plate Pottery for the longest time, despite working right across the street and staring at it almost every day.

But then I finally drew up the courage to go, and bam! I was an artist.

“Everyone is an artist when they walk through that door.”

This is what I heard after voicing my fears to the Hot Plate Pottery staff. Ok, kind of cliché, but at least they had my back! Considering they host artists of all ages, from young to old, I couldn’t be the worst they’ve ever seen, right?

It’s a very simple process:

  1. Pick out a ceramic plate, cup, bowl, coaster, hot Plate, animal, shot glasses, ornaments, or something else. There are more than 100 different ceramic shapes to choose from! They have a few smaller shapes under $10 and then some larger objects that are more towards that $75 dollar mark.
  2. Pick out your colors, stencils, tracing paper, brushes, and other painting supplies. They also have a large selection of books to get inspiration from, in case you haven’t already picked out a masterpiece on Pinterest to attempt.
  3. Test out your creations on sample blocks. If you are new to the game, it is suggested to try a few brushes and strokes to see what works best for your project. I used three sample blocks to make three different attempts till I decided what I liked best (as I said, I was nervous).
  4. Go for it! The paint dries pretty fast, within a minute. No long waiting-till-it-dries in order to put another coat on. The color goes on the ceramic a different color than the end result will show (something to do with the kiln that dries the paint and makes it dishwasher safe). When picking out your colors, they have a chart to show the actual end result colors, so there is no guessing game.
  5. Leave it (& your mess) for the staff to take care of. Yup, you don’t even have to pick up after yourself!
  6. Come back a week or so later and pick up your final project!

How I Became an Artist at Hot Plate Pottery

I decided to paint something that commiserates with the Upper Peninsula, so I chose the blank shape of the UP with the Northern Lights in the background. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, considering the U.P. does not have the shape of Colorado or some easy state like that!

And, of course, the beauty of the Northern Lights is not easy to recreate. But with the pep talk of the staff and the inspiration of the 8-year-old birthday party happening next to me, I decided to go for it.

I chose to make a smaller hot plate that will probably end up hanging on my wall one day because it’s too pretty to put pots on. I picked out an array of colors to represent the lights based on actual colors from real photographs and was given the shape of the U.P. to trace. I also got a bunch of brushes to try out. The easy part is done here in Hot Plate!

On my first sample block, I tried to recreate the photograph and quickly realized that was impossible. I didn’t want to give up on my idea, though, so the staff suggested that I try an abstract view of the lights. The second attempt was way easier and looked great. I tried out the third attempt and decided that I liked my second piece the most.

Painting on the actual ceramic hot plate was the hardest part. It’s not any different than painting on the samples, but I was so worried about messing up. Good news: practice makes perfect, and my final project turned out just as I planned.

Bottom Line

You may not think you are a great artist, but just wait till you go to Hot Plate. They make you feel comfortable and help you out through the whole process to get the best-finished product possible.

Other Things to Note: On Fridays, NMU students get $2 off all purchased products. On Sunday, everyone gets $2 off and a free tootsie pop! (You pay the day you create your piece). They also have a party package for children. For more details on that, check out their website:

Hot Plate Pottery Location

Hot Plate Pottery is open from 11am to 7pm Monday through Saturday and 12 to 4pm on Sunday.

How to get there?

Hot Plate Pottery is located on the corner of Third and Washington in downtown Marquette, 153 W. Washington. Near parking, food, drinks, and shopping, so make it a day if you are in town for a visit!

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Lindsey is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.