“ Select your own piece of bisque (unpainted pottery), draw your design, and start painting. The Ceramic Experience supplies everything from stamps and stencils, to aprons, brushes, tiles and paint, all of which are non-toxic and food safe. With hundreds of bisque shapes for you to choose from. „
Having grown tired of some of the activity areas where children are encouraged to run round screaming, then frequently get lost for a period of time, it was time to find something new. About a year ago, little lady was invited to a party at the Ceramic Experience and we haven't looked back since.
The activity area is located off a main road in a very small industrial estate; when you drive off the main road, there is ample parking space and so far, we have never had to struggle for a space.
Through the door and you are faced with the logo of the Ceramic Experience, whcih is a great big daisy. Colourful pictures lead you up the stairs to the first floor. This first floor concept is going to be the one thing I mention which I don't like about the Ceramic Experience (from now on c.e.). The area is designed for children and it seems silly to have it on the first floor- what about buggies? To date, I have not been able to locate a lift, and there are alot of stairs.
Once you get up the stairs, it's through the double doors and then inside.
My initial impression the very first time I went was "what exactly is this about?".
There are long trestle type tables dotted about the room with a ball pool and play area at the far side. The cafe area is close to the painting tables and at the entrance side is an area complete with sofas, small tables and newspapers, so that parents and carers can have a rest.
We soon learned how to use the activity centre. All along the sides of the very large room, are tables and shelves, bedecked with a dazzling area of ornaments, plates, cups, tiles, some painted and some waiting to become that masterpiece. Entrance to c.e is free, but there is an assumption that you will be buying an object to paint, and these don't come cheap. They range from round about £4 upwards but if you want something a bit cheaper, there are often out of season items (Christmas tree decorations in August?) or slightly chipped items. Little miss won't entertain the idea, it's usually the small animals she wants
Once your piece is selected, it's quite simple, decide whether you want it glazed or not, as this will affect your choice of paints, and then set to painting. There are lots of inspirational books dotted about the place but I would advice avoidance tactics with them because it's quite dispiriting when you try to copy and it all goes horribly wrong.
The ornament has to be taken over to the hair dryer every so often so that it is quickly dried off...take care with little people's hands, the hair dryers are hot. Once painted, take it to the till and pay for it. If you want it glazed, the ornament has to be left and collected at a later date; we have never managed this as little miss insists on instant gratification.
After paying for your little ornament, it is sprinked with "fairy dust" (if required-yes please), wrapped in tissue and put into a large bag bearing c.e. logo.
Children can then kick off their shoes and enter the ball pool and play area whilst parents and carers go for a well earned sit down on the sofas and read of the papers.
So that's how it's done, what about the other bits and pieces?
THE CAFE sells a selection of hot and cold drinks as well as sandwiches, baked potatoes, cakes and chocolates. These are quite expensive but entrance is, as I said, free, so you are just paying for what you consume.
PARTIES are catered for, and for a fixed fee, children get to paint an ornament to take home, food is provided as well as time in the soft play area.
Adult parties (of the strictly ceramic kind) can be catered for- take your own wine.
SCHOOLS can book to take classes to the c.e, and should phone for full details.
OPENING TIMES are Monday- Saturday 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm), Sunday 10am-4pm (last entry 3pm)
WEBSITE for information on all the franchises and some history of c.e. is www.theceramicexperience.com
CONTACT telephone number 0191 414828
Unit 7, ist Floor
This road has excellent road links, is close to the Metro Centre, and most importantly, if you don't know the area, can be found on a map.
This is an excellent experience for adults and children alike, and is just a little bit different to running around an often crowded and noisy play area. It has a bit of everything- play area and craft activities.
We particularly enjoy going near Christmas to make Santa decorations, painted in all colours of the rainbow, and grandma was delighted to receive a glazed cup with little lady's hand on the side.
There is space for adults to take a break whilst the children play, and the cafe offers all the refreshments you would need.
All in all, a pleasant way to while away a couple of hours.
Thanks for reading