Simon Warne shows off some of the figures you can paint at his new ceramic studio/cafe on Willow Street in Chemainus.

Simon Warne shows off some of the figures you can paint at his new ceramic studio/cafe on Willow Street in Chemainus.

New studio creating real buzz

There’s something a little different opening on Willow Street.While there are many places to get a great cup of coffee along Chemainus’ main drag, there aren’t a lot of places where you get to decorate your own cup.Simon Warne is changing that with his new venture.“It’s a ceramics arts studio within a cafe environment.”People will be given the chance to come in and purchase a white piece of ceramic decor and paint it while exploring a showcase of renowned specially made sweet and savory pastries or enjoying a cup of coffee.The choice of ceramics currently range from dinosaurs to coffee mugs to whole dinner sets.Warne said his cafe is very family oriented and will be a great place of parents to bring their kids to cool activity while they enjoy some delicacies.“We’ve also had people say they fancy the idea of coming here just as a coffee shop,” said Warne. “They can just sit and watch people be creative.”Warne said they are not trying to be a cafe and are focussing on their ceramics.The pastries will be supplied by Pam and Gerald’s Sweet and Savory out of Cobblehill and will be specially made for the store — such as a rhubarb and cream cheese.Warne said Pam and Gerald will also be designing the showcase.“It’s all about collaboration,” said Warne.Coffee is coming from Misty Ridge in Port Alberni.Warne first saw these types of cafes in the U.K. and, after moving to the Cowichan Valley, recognized the venture would be a hit here with the strong arts community.“When I got to kind of know the Island, I got feeling for how much creativity, arts and culture there is. We thought ‘Wow this has got to be a great place to do this business.’”People can have the chance to decorate their own set of mugs, piggybanks, even whole dinner sets.While the painting is always a blast, Warne said the most rewarding part of the process is getting your piece after it has been fired in the kiln, which makes the colours really pop.“That’s a really nice feeling for people. The real effect is when they come back and pick it up … it’s really something else.”Help sheets will also be provided so artists can get the most out of their work.Warne was hoping to open his new shop at the south end of Willow Street this week.