When you first walk into Joliet Pottery Lounge, you see the shelves of projects just begging to be painted and fired. Then, in the corner of the shop on Essington Road in Joliet, something catches your eye, something that may have no business in a pottery shop – a dog.
Rukia, the pet of wife and husband owners Gladys and Ron Naling, took up residence in the shop a bit more than two and a half years ago. When she was adopted by the family, she was an 8-month-old puppy.
“Her tail is just a whip, but she has yet to break anything here,” Gladys Naling said.
Joliet Pottery Lounge opened a little more than five years ago. Before they even opened their doors, they sold paint-able tiles at the Taste of Joliet and offered the pick-up of the finished pieces the day they opened.
Since then, they participated in three years of the taste, and admit that the bulk of their business comes from word of mouth.
“To us it’s more letting the community folks know that we’re (here),” Gladys Nahling said.
To that end, the store sees a great number of school field trips, day care events and the like. And, if the school cannot get to the shop, Gladys Nahling said they bring the shop to them.
“We’ll go to you, you can come to us, we do a little but of everything,” Gladys Nahling said.
No matter if customers visit the store or if staff comes to them, no one takes home their creation the same day. That’s because the pottery needs to be glazed and fired. Gladys Nahling said the store has its own kiln. Most customers understand that they have to wait for their pieces, save for maybe the littlest participants. But, Gladys tries to explain the process to them.
Falling in Love with Pottery
Gladys Nahling said she was introduced to pottery when she created some pieces at her sister-in-laws shop in Oregon.
She and her husband then took a leap of faith in opening her own studio.
The shop offers pre-made pieces for painting.
“We just paint our own pottery,” she said. “A lot of hand and feet prints, which I love.”
Gladys Nahling does not really see a lot of trends in the field, but she does utilize two techniques in her studio that are quite popular.
The first is a marbleizing technique where they set the pottery piece in shaving cream. Gladys Nahling said customers really enjoy it.
“They find it very intriguing because they get to make a mess in shaving cream,” she said. “There is another (technique) that we call bubbling.”
Gladys Nahling makes a liquid from paint, water and soap for the customers to use.
“You blow bubbles in the water and then you basically let it fall on your piece,” she said.
Gladys Nahling loves what she does. She especially loves watching the customers create pieces with handprints and footprints. And, she still creates her own pieces.
“I tell everyone the more bills I get the more I paint,” she said. “It’s a part of me; it’s definitely a part of our household. Everyone has their own plate, their own cereal bowl their own mug.”