By Brenda L. Holmes
PLAINFIELD — Molly Hammond began her career painting porcelain in her home, creating one-of-a-kind sink and back splashes for clients all over the country.
“I would work from my home,” she said. “I would e-mail with clients.”
She first learned the art of painting porcelain from Penny Nagle who lived on the Westside of Indianapolis.
“She was excited to have a young person who wanted to learn the craft,” Hammond said. “There was nobody in this area teaching with the exception of one lady who teaches out of her home in Avon.”
One of her most memorable sink commission pieces was done for a couple in Chicago.
“It was created in memory of their son,” she said. “It had cherubs, butterflies, and ribbons.”
She began painting classes in a space at the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatics Center.
“I had a space there for about six months,” Hammond said. “The class grew, so I knew I needed more space. I’ve been here in the store front for about six months.”
She opened The Porcelain Art Studio at 111 S. Center St. in the Town Center of Plainfield. Hammond grew up in Carmel and has lived in the Clayton area for about 20 years.
“I knew I couldn’t have a shop like this in Clayton so I came to Plainfield,” she said. “I needed a store front with lots of activity out front.”
Artists who paint on porcelain use a powdered form of paint they then mix with a medium.
“I prefer to use an open medium,” Hammond said. “The paint is filled with ground minerals and glass that when fired melts. The painting will not deteriorate as it can on canvass.”
She said the type of pain she uses never really dries out. You can mix it and leave if for a year and you can still paint with it, she said.
“I also prefer to use a multiple fire method so you can get a really good depth of color,” she said.
She has a kiln in her studio, as well as the large kiln she has in her home she used to use to fire sinks and back splashes.
“I use a computer to regulate the temperatures in the kiln,” she said. “I can also fire all the students’ work here.”
When she was holding classes at the rec center she was taking the wet pieces home to fire.
“When I got more students, I told myself that I could not possibly haul 18 plus wet pieces home each week,” Hammond said. “This space has been a real blessing.”
She said one reason she really enjoys the porcelain painting process is the realistic features an artist can create and then pass down from generation to generation.
“I’ve also been doing some commission portrait work,” she said. “I have one coming up of some show dogs.”
Last year, she won a grand champion ribbon in the professional division at the Indiana State Fair.
“I was pretty happy with that,” she said. “It was the first year I had to enter as a professional and I won.”
The piece she did for the state fair was a vase she painted of an owl.
“I had to purchase the photograph because it had to be a completely original piece,” she said. “It took me about 80 hours to complete the project.
“This is my passion. I will work on a piece until it is perfect. I will never let go of a piece until I’m happy with it.”
She said many of the students she works with enjoy the realistic images they learn to create.
“Some do like the detailed work but many of them like abstract work,” Hammond said. “As long as you’re not in a hurry, anyone can do this.”
She said no artistic ability is needed to complete a project in her studio.
Students will often paint on plates, trays, or ornaments.
“They want to create heirlooms they can pass down in the family,” she said. “This spring we did a lot of Easter eggs.
“And I have students of all ages. I have some older ladies, some moms, and even two 12-year-old students.
“But most students are not really interested in learning the art. They just want to make something beautiful. But others want to learn everything about design lines and colors.”
Classes last for two hours once a week. She said the group will visit while they work around the table.
“Some of them tell their husbands they’re going to therapy when they leave the house,” Hammond said. “We do have a fun bunch.”
But she says it isn’t a women’s group.
“I have three men who I’m teaching,” she said. “You would think they would make something manly but they’re interested in the florals and animals. One of the men is painting his family crest.”
She said her students are often shocked to see how beautiful their pieces turn out after they’re fired.
“And when they accomplish something, I think I accomplish something too,” she said. “I enjoy the time we spent making the piece and I enjoy painting.”
She said some of her students will soon be ready to begin painting portraits.
“We are not there yet, but we’re ready to enter some things in the Hendricks County Fair,” she said.
Hammond has been married to her husband, Paul, for 30 years. They have two grown sons — Zach and Jacob.
Classes at The Porcelain Art Studio are $40 a month which is $10 a class. All supplies are included in the cost of the class.
Hammond also teaches jewelry making.
For more information, call Hammond at 965-3371. The website is under construction but there is basic information online at theporcelainartstudio.com