Breaking the mould

Posted on: 5th October, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

There aren’t many places where you get to pick up a paintbrush in one hand and a really good cup of coffee in the other. When Sophie Miall and Suzanne O’Connor set up Cré Pottery Studio in Skibbereen town last March their aim was to create a friendly ceramics painting studio and coffee house where young and old could come to unwind and get creative. There is also a selection of delicious home baking to complement the fine roast coffee.

Once word spread, it wasn’t long before families and friends from all over West Cork started calling in to spend some quality and fun time together.

West Cork’s first paint-your-own-pottery studio has hundreds of pieces of blank pottery in all shapes and sizes to choose from and lots and lots of stencils, sponge shapes, glaze colours and brushes to help with inspiration!

With prices starting at just €10, you can paint your own piece of art, the studio will glaze and fire it for you, and it will be ready for collection in just three to four days.

“Fabulous studio and way to spend an afternoon, for children or adults alike!” commented one happy customer. “Wonderful variety of things to make and paint, great value and owners are very helpful and friendly. The decor is very pretty and relaxing too. Thanks for a lovely afternoon…my mum really enjoyed it. Wishing you both many years of success.”

As well as pottery painting, the studio runs ceramic and pottery wheel classes. It’s a wonderful venue in which to celebrate a birthday, hen party or special occasion with lot’s of party packages to suit individual needs. The perfect place to get a group of friends together, adult parties are welcome to bring their own wine, with food provided by the studio on request. There are a number of party packages available.

On the first Friday of every month, the studio is open between 6 and 9pm and adults can bring their own bottle of wine and nibbles and enjoy a sociable, fun and creative evening.

Children’s pottery classes run on a regular basis for four-week blocks and take place on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Adult classes run for four-week periods on a Wednesday evening or Tuesday morning.

Private tuition on the potter’s wheel is also available.

“One lady visited us regularly over the summer. She made
an entire dinner service from pressing her wedding lace into clay,” says Suzanne.

Why not create a unique and wonderful keepsake of your baby. Call into Cré to make prints and impressions of your baby’s little hands and feet. Cré will personalise your piece and glaze and fire it for you in studio.

Clay Play takes place every Saturday morning between 10am and 12pm and costs just €5 per person. “It’s a lovely activity for families to do together on a Saturday morning,” says Suzanne. “You can enjoy a quiet coffee while your little ones get stuck into the clay.”

Sophie Miall has a degree in Ceramics and will be familiar to many from her previous business in Skibbereen – the fabulous Toto’s toyshop. With four children, ranging in age from three to 11, the artist is well aware of the enjoyment that children can get from a relaxed activity like painting pottery. And it’s not only children who benefit. “It’s a wonderful tranquil, almost meditative activity to share with your child or grandchild,” explains Sophie. “It’s amazing the quiet that descends once the paintbrushes are picked up.”

It’s an idea that Sophie had been mulling on for years, even before setting up Toto’s, but it wasn’t until she started seriously talking about it with close friend Suzanne O’Connor, that a business plan started taking shape.

Suzanne has a FETAC level VI qualification in Professional Arts Practice from Rossa College in Skibbereen and lots of experience teaching in schools and working with children.

Over the past 11 years, the friends have worked on many projects together, from providing party entertainment to pottery classes.

After identifying a suitable premises in a central location in Skibbereen, it wasn’t long before Cré Pottery was born. “Everyone’s been so supportive and hands-on,” says Suzanne “and both our partners have been champions behind the scenes.” Jessica Challcoombe painted the playful tree mural on one of the walls of the bright and attractive studio space.

Cré has disabled access and groups from Cope and CoAction have already enjoyed numerous visits.

“It’s an excellent activity for children with Autism,” says Sophie. “To see a child who doesn’t say much usually, get on the potter’s wheel and start talking non-stop, is a wonderful sight.”

There are Halloween and Christmas workshops coming up and bookings are now being taken for Christmas parties.

Cré Pottery Studio is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm and Sunday, 12-4pm. Keep an eye on facebook ‘Cré Pottery Studio’ for details of upcoming classes and events or check out Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at Cré.

Phone 028-22913, email

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