Ceramic Creations brings artistic outlet to Joliet

Ceramic Creations co-owner Ericka Williams poses for a photo at her Joliet business.

Joliet — Joliet residents looking for a place to unwind or reconnect with friends now have a place they can do so while exercising their artistic side. Ceramic Creations in Joliet opened its doors in 2023 and prides itself on its welcoming atmosphere and unique-to-the-area offerings.

“We first thought about the concept a few years ago,” said shop co-owner Ericka Williams. “On family trips we realized a lot of towns had ceramics shops where we’d end up to paint and talk. We noticed there was nothing like that in the Joliet area, or anywhere in Will County. We like to paint and liked the concept, so we thought we’d bring it here.”

Ceramic Creations in Joliet allows customers to get creative by painting a wide selection of ceramics.

Ceramic Creations offers just that. Customers can make an appointment or walk in, select a ceramic piece from the shop’s offerings and sit down to paint either solo or with friends and family members as a way to catch up without the distractions of technology. Once a piece is finished, the owners fire it in their kiln to finish and give it a professional-looking shine.

While the shop originally opened at 3039 Theodore St. in April 2023, Williams and co-owner Natasha Dillard said that the first six months of business was more of a soft open, and they began to expand their offerings and market themselves more openly in fall.

“Art as a whole helps people express how they feel.Those were the things that gave me hope as a kid and helped me when we went through hardships”

—  Natasha Dillard, co-owner of Ceramic Creations

As the shop continues to gain attention, the owners say they want to expand their programs. They expect to begin offering classes in the coming months as well as summer camps for local students. They also anticipate expanding their morning and afternoon hours in the summer when more children will have free time without school.

“Our shop is open to everybody,” said Williams, “We want anyone to be able to come in and make whatever they want.”

Ceramic Creations offers a variety of ceramics to paint.

Williams also noted that it was important to her and Dillard to make the shop ADA-compliant so seniors and kids with disabilities would be able to benefit from their services.

“We’re currently working with local rehab and assisted living facilities to bring our product in to them for residents to paint, but in spring, once the weather breaks, we want to arrange for them to get out and come to us,” Dillard explained. “We want them to experience the therapeutic benefits of ceramics. Not only is painting relaxing, but it can be helpful for people who have a limited range of motion to practice.”

In addition to walk-in business and plans for groups, Ceramic Creations offers opportunities for parties including birthdays and family reunions. These events can be largely customized to the host’s liking and can allow guests to all paint their own versions of the same item, or to pick whatever they want. They also have made arrangements with local groups to rent their studio space, including for pop-up art galleries.

“Art is very important for us, so we thought it was a great idea when we had the chance to do a pop-up shop,” said Williams.

In addition to offering their space to local artists, the Ceramic Creations’ owners have a partnership with Cornerstone Services’ art studio. Paintings created by some of the artists in the studio are displayed at Ceramic Creations as part of its “homey” atmosphere, but they are also available to purchase for customers of the ceramic shop.

Ceramic Creations in Joliet allows customers to get creative by painting a wide selection of ceramics.

Both Williams and Dillard have been involved in artistic endeavors throughout their lives with both women participating in choral groups at their schools and churches over the years and Dillard being a trained percussionist.

“Art as a whole helps people express how they feel,” said Dillard. “Those were the things that gave me hope as a kid and helped me when we went through hardships. That’s what we wanted to do here. To give people the ability to sit down anywhere you choose in a relaxing atmosphere and create whatever you choose. It’s a small glory for us to provide that.”

Ceramic Creations’ popular store front lounge area.

Their shared interest in the arts is part of what led Williams and Dillard to bond when they met five years ago as members of the Joliet chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

“We became best friends from that,” Dillard said. “We just formed that partnership and our families bonded. It’s been such a blessing for me to have such a sister as Ericka. We have different backgrounds, and we can drive each other crazy like family, but we also learn from each other.”

Dillard lost her mother in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 and said that Williams was always there for her to support her through that loss. A big moment of healing for her, she said, was taking a family trip with her family and Williams’ family to the Wisconsin Dells where they found a ceramics shop and went in to paint together.

“I think COVID caused people to be mindful of what’s really important and to want to reconnect and come back together,” said Dillard. “This opens the door for people to reconnect beyond technology. Sometimes we forget that human touch in life. It’s good for my spirit to see this business doing what it’s supposed to and offering that. The owner of the Donut Den two doors down from us came in with his family on his birthday to paint and he said they had an awesome time. That’s what it’s about. It’s about having fun and creating memories.”

“We really wanted this business to be in Joliet,” said Williams. “We wanted to bring something in art form to the Joliet community and to develop this and partner with other businesses in the area because Joliet will always be home for both of us.”

Ceramic Creations is currently open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.