Paint Your World in Oak Harbor

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I headed to Paint Your World in Oak Harbor with my teenage daughter and her friend. The girls spent about ten minutes searching through the store’s large selection of items to choose from. Not only do they have super practical stuff that you can use every day, like cups, bowls and plates, but also a bunch of silly monsters and other creatures that youngsters might want to display on a shelf somewhere.

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After choosing their items, a cat for one, an owl with a topper to go inside of a sand dollar for the other, the teens chose their paints.

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Once they were set up with all of the supplies, one of the owners, Laura Apgar, gave instructions: three coats required, a glaze would be sprayed on that would make any unpainted places shiny, choose additional paints as you wish. Most importantly, have fun!

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I had no idea how long it would take, but at the rate they were going for the first about twenty minutes, I realized that it could take quite a while for them to finish. So, in spite of the fact that I am artistically challenged, I decided that I may as well paint something. After I did so, a small round box with lid, I chose three colors: red, white and black. Meanwhile, the place started to fill up. A woman with her grandson, and two twenty-something pairs of girls showed up. Soon, the birthday boy whose decorations had already been set up arrived with his parents and friends. The place was jumping! The girls noticed a menu with water, sodas and various types of espresso on their table, talked me into ordering drinks, took a quick break and returned to their projects.

When I asked Laura about a particularly cute pattern on a plate, she patiently explained the procedure, which involved simply dipping the back of three correspondingly smaller diameter brush handles in paint, blotting it on the ceramic, waiting for it to dry, then moving to the next size. I quickly completed three coats of red, then moved on to doing the dots, while the girls switched from paint to paint (to paint, glitter and all). My kid decided to add a couple of dots to her cat, which became several, which became a new style of feline fur.

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When I’d finished, I wandered around the place a bit to see what we might want to do there in the future. I walked towards the back of the place and peeked into the Apgar’s office to take another look at the cute dogs we’d noticed when when we arrived. Poppy and Winston had taken over the room’s best sleeping spots. According to Laura, when not snoozing, the two have done a good job of helping kids get over their fear of dogs.

Nearer the street side, I noticed a display about glass fusing (and glass fused jewelry), which looks pretty cool and can be done during classes that they hold each month.
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Obviously, I’d already noticed that it’s a good place to hold a birthday party. Laura told me a birthday party at PYW will run you $125 plus tax for up to six painters including the ceramics, all painting supplies, cupcakes, juice, balloon bouquet and clean up.
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Not only can folks paint ceramics and do glass fusing projects at the store, but students from Oak Harbor elementary schools can also participate in Paint Your World family fun nights (helping to organize these at a couple of schools years ago was my first experience with the Apgars). During these Family Fun Nights, Paint Your World offers either a reduced price on the ceramics or the regular price with a donation back to the school’s PTA, which typically runs and sponsors these events.

Here is some other information I found out. Owners Ron and Laura met on met on a blind date for the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1994, hit it off and married in 1995. Ron’s background was hotel management and engineering, Laura’s was corporate sales and teaching. A year later, after visiting a studio elsewhere and thinking that was what their town needed, they opened their business with the same name as today, in Napa, California, which they ran for eight years. In 2004, thinking that Washington state is a friendlier place for a small business than California, the couple moved to Oak Harbor and opened Paint Your World downtown. Like all small business owners, they spend a lot of time at work. Fortunately, they have a part-time employee which allows them the chance to have time off, during which they love to travel and see friends (many of whom started out as customers) or just relax and enjoy the island.

Altogether, we spent nearly two hours there, which was plenty of times for the girls to catch up one what they’d been doing since they’d last seen one another. They instructed us to return after three o’clock on Wednesday to pick up our fired items. We learned that the reason it takes several days before you can see your completed pottery is because of all the work that goes into getting them customer-ready. After you paint them, items need time to dry. Then, after being clear glazed, they must dry again, overnight. Finally, it takes about eight hours to heat items to the required 1860 degrees (that is not a typo) and a day to cool down. Fortunately, their three kilns can each hold about forty items at a time, depending on the size.

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Paint Your World is a great place to try out your artistic (or not) skills. Find out more information about painting ceramics, glass fusing classes and other things you can do at their web site or Facebook page.
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