You Do the Dishes and let them do the rest

New Tampa’s You Do the Dishes might just be the place to create your masterpiece, even if it means stealing some help from a real artist.

The friendly and artistic decor makes You Do The Dishes an ideal place to unwind and forget the daily grind of classes.

“I wanted to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere,” said Cindy Kozlowski, owner of You Do The Dishes, a paint-your-own-pottery studio.

The deep purple walls, comfy velvet couches and soothing music all serve to create a climate that makes it easy to create. Customers are provided with a full coffee bar complete with delicious cookies. Beverages are served in mismatched coffee cups painted by the staff or customer pieces never collected.

Even those with little to no artistic talent can create art at You Do the Dishes. Stencils and stamps are on hand to guide anyone who can’t think of a design.

Pencil marks disappear after the firing process, so mistakes can be made when drawing the design. Even if the brush slips, an eraser or water will take the paint right off. Idea books containing painting techniques and designs are available for inspiration and instruction.

Some of these books are made up of magazine clippings complied by the staff. Another source of inspiration are the sample pieces placed alongside the blank, unfired pieces. The staff members are quick to answer questions and often give pointers on painting techniques.

The process is fairly simple. First, the customer picks out a piece. Painting can commence after picking colors, but it is recommended that the piece be thought out and designed before painting. Once customers are done with the piece, they pay for their studio time and piece. The finished product can be picked up after the staff has glazed and fired it.

Selecting a piece can be difficult because of the variety to choose from. Standard stock includes vases, mugs, bowls, platters and plates, all of which come in different shapes and sizes.

Much of the stock is plain to allow for creativity in design, but, as owner Kozlowski said, “Those uncomfortable with creating their own design can choose pieces with raised designs, like figurines, Christmas ornaments and our fish coasters.”

There’s plenty of Halloween-themed pottery as well, including witches, tiny pumpkins and a gruesome eyeball.

Studio fees are $8 per hour. The staff makes sure that customers get the most out of their time by providing hair dryers at each table to speed drying time between coats.

Customers also pay for the cost of the piece. Pieces in standard stock range in cost from $2 tiles to $40 platters. Studio fees include the use of paints, brushes, sponges and stencils. Firing is included in the cost.

You Do the Dishes runs weekly specials on its studio fees. Tuesday, everybody paints for a flat (not hourly) studio fee of $10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. College students with identification can paint from 7-10 p.m. for a flat studio fee of $8 Thursday night.

On Fridays, kids paint free for the first hour, provided they come after 5 p.m. and bring an adult to paint with them. Bring a friend after 5 p.m. on Saturdays and both pay half-price studio fees.

Those who lack the drive to create an artistic piece but need a unique item as a gift can commission the staff at You Do the Dishes to create a piece. Whether it’s a yearning for a vase covered in parachuting cows or something equally as specialized, the staff can design and paint a piece based on a customer’s idea.

This can be a perfect solution when trying to find a gift for a relative who is hard to shop for. After buying the piece, it’s $10 per hour for the artist to paint your design.

In addition, pottery parties are sometimes held at the store. Parties go for minimum of one hour with a minimum of five people. Arranging for a party at least a week in advance means lower studio fees. The more people, the lower the studio fee per person. Prices for pieces remain the same.

And the parties aren’t just for children. Earlier this month, You Do The Dishes had two sororities from USF throw pottery parties, Kozlowski said.

“I’m really glad USF students are discovering this place,” she said. “That’s why I have the Thursday night college special. You Do The Dishes is an alternative to Ybor that’s safer and closer to USF.”