Fired Fired Up Up Just past the bustling streets of downtown Iowa City, a little brown house stands. It looks just like all the others houses; there’s even a dog lying on the front porch. In fact, passerby might assume people live there until they notice the sign, which reads “Fired Up”, and the painted plate on the porch that reads “Open.” Fired Up is a paint-your-own pottery shop that opened in 1998. It was the first business of its kind to open in Iowa and is now one of only 6 in the state. Co-owner Nancy Westvig says her shop’s universal appeal makes it unique. The business caters to all ages, and groups of adults or kids with birthday parties enter to create their own masterpieces. “We don’t really fit into a specific niche because this kind of activity appeals to a range of ages,” Westvig said. “Our most popular customers are 7 year olds and 50 year olds.” The room is decorated with potted plants, painted chairs, and, of course, pottery projects. The whole place has a laidback feel, which is fitting since Westvig says her favorite part of painting pottery is that it’s relaxing. “There is more of a therapeutic aspect to it. It’s nice for people to not have to worry about things,” said Westvig, who mentioned one of her shirts that reads “Cheaper than Therapy and Way More Fun.” “The biggest thing there is to
worry about here is what color to paint your pot.” Besides the stress-free atmosphere, the owners say they both enjoy working in a place bursting with creativity. “There’s something really nice about seeing people do something creative and totally surprise themselves,” Westvig said. “And it’s totally fun,” co-owner Michael Burt chimed in. “It’s not a real structured setting.You can paint a tree blue, or you can paint the sun green.”
Art as therapy University of Iowa professor Non Eumquo says business Fired Up can sometimes be therapeutic for her customers, especially those who take time out of their fast-paced day to sit back and create art. “Art can be especially beneficial for those with busy schedules,” Eumquo said. “It also helps those who sit at computers all day have something tangible to show for their work. It gives them a sense of accomplishment.”
Photo by KAITLYN ETIENNE
Kaitlyn Etienne Bear Facts Writer
An Iowa City pottery shop draws creative customers of all ages with its laid-back vibe.