I recently had the opportunity to review Crock A Doodle, a drop-in pottery painting studio. While attempting to create a priceless work of art, I learned new painting techniques, flexed my creative muscles and had fun catching up with one of my closest girlfriends. We left with smiles on our faces and were looking forward to going back again soon. What I didn’t realize, that what appeared on the surface as simply a fun girls night out was actually a scientifically proven way to not only reduce stress & anxiety but could actually improve our physical health.
The Relationship Between Art and Health
In the American Journal of Public Health, an article reviewed many studies surrounding the relationship between the arts (music, visual arts, dance, and creative writing) and our physical & mental health. Again and again the studies showed a correlation between improved mental states and accelerated healing when patients repeatedly participated in a creative activities. One study in particular showed reduced hospital stays and decreased need of pain medication over those not exposed.
It’s not just all about mental health either, in this study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that HIV patients engaging in creative writing saw “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts” versus those simply just writing. In other words, writing actually physically improved their immune system.
The human brain is so amazing! So think about your next trip to a Crock A Doodle studio like a trip to a day-spa for you brain!
The Crock A Doodle Experience
Crock A Doodle is a Canadian franchise with 24 locations across Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta and with more on the way. Their drop-in pottery painting studios give people of all ages the opportunity to transform ready-to-paint pottery pieces into amazing works of art which are then glazed and kiln-fired to a brilliant, durable food-safe finish. You can choose to either paint in their studio (no reservations necessary) or schedule them for birthday parties, family fun, ladies nights, team builders, classroom and group events in their studios or at a location of your choosing.
Here’s how pottery painting works at Crock A Doodle;
- Pick a piece of pottery off the shelf (so many great pieces to choose from!)
- The price is marked on the bottom (all-inclusive of studio time, paints, glazing & kiln-firing)
- Plan your pottery design or follow one of theirs (that are technique sheets at each table)
- Pick your paint colours
- Relax, have fun and paint! (If you have questions or need help with a technique, they are happy to help!)
- Leave your masterpiece with them to be professionally glazed & kiln-fired
- Return in a couple of days when your pottery piece is ready
Crock A Doodle: Pros
- You don’t need to be an expert; all experience levels are welcome! I loved that at each table there was a booklet of different techniques and designs to follow. The Crock A Doodle staff were also incredibly helpful in guiding us through techniques and making suggestions on how to complete our pieces.
- Girls night IN? Unfortunately Crock A Doodle isn’t licensed for alcohol but your house is! They will come to you or you can pick up the supplies!
- Host a birthday party in their party room! (But I wouldn’t recommend for kids younger than 7. See note below in Tips & Tricks.)
- Looking for great gift idea for the grandparents? Why not immortalize your baby’s finger prints on a plate, Christmas ornament or mug? Or, my favourite, their little bum cheeks!
- Once glazed and kiln-fired the pieces are microwave and dishwasher safe
- Location was clean, well-organized and the service was fantastic!
- Large selection of pottery pieces available to choose from with a wide range of prices to fit anyone’s budget
Crock A Doodle: Cons
- I found the hours to be a little difficult. The location we went to was only open late till 8 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. When trying to schedule around work and children’s activities it was hard to find a day that would work.
- The website was a quite slow, especially the Ideas Gallery and the Pottery Pieces page.
Tips & Tricks
- Each location has their own calendar of unique and exciting events (Whitby and Bowmanville). They have one scheduled right now where you can drop your kids off (ages 5+) for 2 hours and it includes painting and pizza party! Too bad my kids are too young!
- To maximize your studio time painting, I recommend looking online for what piece of pottery you want to paint and how you want to paint it before you come
- Schedule at least 1 whole hour or more for your painting. I would do one and a half hours just to be safe.
- The studio is open to all ages and using your young kids hands and feet to create the perfect gift sounds like a great idea just remember that they will likely lose patience within 30 mins of painting. I would recommend not planning a birthday party for your child there until they are at least 7 years old. I have done it twice with my 4-year-old daughter and she only last 45 mins before bouncing off the walls.
- Need even more ideas and tutorials?! Check out their YouTube Channel with over 200 videos!
- When painting pottery for the first time start with a small and technically easy piece, that way you aren’t throwing $50 down the drain if you new technique doesn’t work out
According to Amanda… the verdict is:
We had an amazing time at Crock A Doodle! Although my mug will not be any winning awards I love the quirky imperfect design. Crock A Doodle has a huge selection of pieces to choose from, whether you want to do a silly mug like mine or a work of art on a large serving platter fit for the queen. During our visit to Crock A Doodle we learned quite a bit and really enjoyed our time. I am looking forward to going again and I think I am ready to tackle something a little more challenging than a mug next time!
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1. Make More Art: The Health Benefits of Creativity by Jame Clear http://jamesclear.com/make-more-art
2. The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature by Heather L. Stuckey, DEdcorresponding author and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/
3. Effect of written emotional expression on immune function in patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection: a randomized trial by Petrie KJ1, Fontanilla I, Thomas MG, Booth RJ, Pennebaker JW http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15039514
In case you were wondering… Crock A Doodle generously provided the painting experience and has donated the giveaway prize. The opinions expressed are 100% my own and I did not hold back any of my thoughts on the experience. As you know, you can always trust me to give you full and honest truth.