‘Jade’ a rural retreat for pottery

Aug 1, 2016

PAVILION — With a small kiln and 50 orders from parents in her daughter’s kindergarten class, Sara Manurung leapt at the chance to quit her day job and hit the road across western New York to lead handprint parties for pieces like plates with their child’s handprint in paint.

“I wanted to do it as a hobby, but it ballooned into a big thing,” Manurung said. “I did so well that I had too many. It was crazy.”

There were late-night alarms to rouse her back to a kiln needing to be unloaded and reloaded to keep up before another switch came, to step-by-step classes and eventually building a barn to house parties lined by shelves of chalky-colored mugs, plates, ornaments and larger pieces; and centered by a cubby of glazes and paints.

“We just built in May,” Manurung said of the new 30 foot by 54 foot structure that’s home to Jade Pottery. “We wanted to have a lot of space.”

She believes 40 people could be working inside comfortably. Friends filled many of the spots Saturday during the business’s grand opening.

While the names of the paints — Glo-Worm, Wine About It and One A-Peel — evoke whimsy, functionality is the focus of Jade Pottery’s brand of art. Everything is fired — there’s no acrylic painting — and plates outnumber gnomes.

“I like the permanence of the glazed and fired pieces. They can be outside. You can eat off of them,” Manurung said.

The studio, located next to the Manurung’s Creek Road home, is open every day of the week. Manurung said having everything so close to her made this version of her artistic business easier to manage, and it’s important to be accessible to everyone, whether they are parents with kids who can play in their yard, working couples who can only come by at night or students on a lazy afternoon.

Today brings the launch of four summer camps at Jade Pottery, with morning and afternoon programs split between those for children 6 years old and up, and ni9ne years old and up. One class will design a large paintbrush wall plaque and paint splatter, and create their own painter’s palette.

The most advanced will be a Tuesday/Thursday camp for creating a Fairy Home from scratch.

“They will learn how to pour, from start to finish, we’re going to create a project, how to load the kiln, do a glaze.”

The ability to host camps, birthday parties and other events was a big push for expanding and anchoring the business. A monthly Ya Ya Night for women has already started up, and is being followed with special art classes and a couples night where men will get a discount for working pottery alongside their wives, with live music and the confidence in your painting that comes from a glass of BYOB wine.

Being in a home-based business off the highway is a set-up that Manurung said was possible because of the commitment potters put into their projects. They could be in for hours, days, weeks to finish a project, making the country-side location an asset for people diving into their hobby.

“This county needs a little more creative (energy) in the country,” Manurung said, noting Jade Pottery has no firing or hourly fee. “I couldn’t see myself on Main Street. I wanted the casual feel.”

“I hate to rush people ... it’s not impulsive. People really enjoy it and find it therapeutic,” she said. “And it’s cheaper than a therapist.”

Manurung, a native of Alexander, has been artistically inclined since her youth. She studied graphic design at BOCES and the Monroe Community College, but graduated as the industry shifted away from hands-on skills.

“I liked the layout, the lettering, type rendering, that’s what I get to do now,” she said. “I’ve never worked an office job; this is what I love.”

A cousin in North Carolina had a chain of make-your-own pottery studios and welcomed her down to manage them. She met her husband Herlan, a chef, and pulled him up to Genesee County.

With three children of their own, there’s an appreciation for young artists. While she wants to give everyone who comes in options in canvas, pattern and specialty glazes, Manurung feels it’s important for parents to take a hands-off approach to the hands-on art.

“I try to tell parents to let the kids paint themselves. They have a tendency to want to touch them up,” Manurung said. “Let them paint a purple dinosaur ... this is their piece.”

She recalled handing over a plate to a 2-year-old whose mother had come in to work on a piece. The little girl “just went crazy” splatting and smearing the paint around. With an artistic addition — Picasso’s “Every child is an artist” — and a firing, it became another keepsake.

Jade Pottery, 10115 Creek Road, Pavilion, is open Mondays through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with adults only after 6 p.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, visit JadePottery.com, Facebook.com/GoJadePottery or call 585-813-1836.

By Jim Krencik, Batavia Daily News