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New West biz aims to inspire creativity and collaborate with the community

Paint-your-own-pottery classes are just one of the offerings at this new-to-New Westminster business on Columbia Street.

The owner of BC Palette Art Studio is thrilled to have found a new storefront location in downtown New Westminster.

Narges Aghahosseini, owner and manager of BC Palette Art Studio, had hoped to open her business in a heritage building, but could not find a suitable site when she was preparing to open her studio.

“I was looking for a heritage area. But at that time, I couldn't find any space,” she said. “I went to the Lougheed Mall in Burnaby.”

When a space opened up at 665 Columbia St., Aghahosseini jumped at the chance to set up shop in the heritage building. She opened in her new location on May 1.

After immigrating to Canada from Iran three years ago, Aghahosseini began working in a pottery painting studio.

“I am a painter and ceramic artist. I teach,” she noted. “I have taught for more than 15 years in my own country – pottery and painting.”

As the owner of Palette Art Studio, Aghahosseini hopes to help folks of all ages to unlock their creativity through pottery and painting.

Shelves inside the Columbia Street store are filled with a colourful array of paints and white pottery items that are just waiting to be painted.

“We offer pottery painting. It's a onetime art activity. It is very fun for family and for kids as well,” Aghahosseini said. “We provide all art supplies, art materials.”

According to Aghahosseini, the shop carries a special paint that’s only used for pottery pieces.

“And all our paints are nontoxic,” she said. “If you choose some dinnerware, mug or plate, you can use it after firing. It's completely food safe, and you can use it in the microwave and dishwasher.”

Once folks have painted their masterpiece, Aghahosseini applies a clear glaze on top of the paint and fires it in the kiln.

“After firing, your piece turns to be lovely, shiny and useful,” she explained. “And the benefit is you can decorate, and you can customize your own piece.”

Once the firing process is complete, folks can pick up their finished pieces within a week.

“Mugs and plates and bowls are most popular. The cat mug is very popular,” Aghahosseini said. “And with figurines, the fox and dog are most the popular items.”

Paint-your-own pottery gives painters a chance to use their imagination and express their creativity. (As an example, one customer painted her family on a mug.)

“They love it,” Aghahosseini said. “It's really fun.”

And customers are welcome to work on their piece until they’re satisfied it’s just right.

“Other studios have time limits of one hour or two hours. We don't have time limit,” Aghahosseini said. “As long as they need to stay here to finish their art project, they can stay.”

While drop-ins are welcome on weekdays, Aghahosseini said the studio is usually booked for birthday parties, events and workshops on weekends.

“Tonight, we have a event for 20 art teachers,” she told the Record during a recent visit to the shop. “They bring their own food and snacks. And have fun.”

Community collaborations

In addition to paint-your-own-pottery drop-ins and events, Palette Art Studio is getting set to expand its pottery offerings.

“From July 1, we have pottery classes with throwing, hand building, and we have opened the studio for people who knows how to do pottery,” Aghahosseini said. “They can use the studio facilities.”

Canvas painting and art classes – as well as a variety of workshops, including resin jewelry workshops – are coming up soon.

Palette Art Studio sells a small selection of works created by local artisans, including resin jewelry.

“We collaborate with different artists,” Aghahosseini said. “I'm looking for local artists as well.”

Aghahosseini is teaming up with a group at the University of British Columbia that works with folks who have dementia. Starting in July, Palette Art Studio will be hosting workshops for people with dementia.

“I like to work with neighbourhood and community,” she said. “This is my goal because I like to have a good collaborator with the community.”