WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | BRUSH UP POTTERY AND ART STUDIO (FORMERLY COBBYGOOSE)
In 2015, Brush Up Pottery and Art Studio (formerly Cobbygoose) in Alpena hit the market. Newly married and thinking of starting a family, Ashley Borchard wanted a career that would allow her to combine her three passions: Contributing to the support of her family, having her children with her at work, and being social while expressing her artistic talents. So, when she saw a post offering the Cobbygoose for sale, she immediately messaged the owner. Within two weeks, she had keys in hand and was ready to jump in with both feet.
Previously, the focus at Brush Up Pottery was painting on canvas. Borchard quickly realized that the interest in canvas painting was beginning to wane; if she was going to keep the business alive, the focus needed to shift. With research, she found that pottery – from “throwing” it on a wheel to painting precast ceramic items – is a creative medium that has continued to be popular. So, she decided to focus on pottery with other media like wood and canvas, offering variety to fill the gaps. This decision was one of the best she has made as owner of Cobbygoose.
With over 200 precast ceramic pieces to choose from and well over 300 canvas and wood designs, there is no shortage of imaginative choices at Brush Up Pottery. Every other week, Borchard offers two-hour time blocks where guests can throw pottery on the wheel. Experienced potters and those new to pottery enjoy this fun time working the clay and forming the mass into a functional piece of art. If throwing on the wheel is not your thing, grab something off the shelf, and the staff will get you set up at a table with everything you need to paint, instead.
After ceramic work, the second most frequent customer request is acrylic pouring, also known as fluid art, a form of abstract painting. Patrons select a wooden shape to paint. Favorites are the deer, turtle, dragonfly, cross, leaves, and the state of Michigan. After guests choose their shape, they select five colors for their pour. The staff adds a solution to the paint to make it flow easily, and the paint colors are layered in a plastic cup. The guest will then pour the entire cup of paint over their chosen piece, tilting the shape to make the colors flow around until it is fully covered, achieving a stunning effect. Borchard says that fluid art is popular for its unique look and because those people who feel they are not artistic can do this and be amazed at what they have created.
For Borchard, the best part of Brush Up Pottery is seeing the excitement in a customer’s eyes when they realize they can create beautiful, unique art pieces. “So many people swear they don’t have any artistic ability, but we are afforded the chance to prove them wrong and help them find a medium they can enjoy.”
Brush Up Pottery welcomes guests of all ages. For children as young as one to grandparents, groups of women, families, birthday parties, and bachelorette parties, this place is a haven of joy. One of Borchard’s favorite things is seeing husbands come to paint with their wives and grandparents who bring their grandchildren to spend quality time together. “For most, it is not about what they create, but the experience itself and coming away with a treasured piece. I love being a part of that,” says Ashley.
Brush Up Pottery and Art Studio
150 North State Street
Alpena, MI 49707