Meg Jones went from making and coating ceramic teeth to making and painting ceramic pottery.
Meg and daughters Kyla Schmigle and Bianca Jones-Pearson are the talented trinity behind Art by You at WeirdGirl Creations, a delightful paint-on-pottery and art studio based in Barrington that extends to a shopping website full of fantastic, eclectic art.
Meg made teeth in a dental lab while selling hand-painted pots, furniture and mosaics in New York some 32 years ago. She moved her studio to Massachusetts in 1988, then launched her web store and moved into her studio locally in 1998, changing the focus to strictly ceramics.
The catchy name came from a teacher’s off-handed remark. “Mr. Katz, my high school ceramics/art teacher, said I was ‘such a weird girl’ in reference to a clay project that I created,” says Meg. “We added, ‘Art by You’ at Weirdgirl Creations about 10 years ago to be more gender neutral. Some young men found the [original] name unnerving.”
Primarily a web-based custom ceramic studio with a wide range of clients, the women (ages 54, 29 and 21) work with architects, developers designers and a select group of wedding planners. “We are presently designing our own line of dinnerware, handmade pressed plates, bowls, mugs and vases with our signature style and unique shapes,” says Meg. Best sellers on their website include house number tiles, welcome signs, baby nursery name signs, wedding favors, signature platters and vases.
Locals flock to her public studio for baby hand and foot print impressions in wet clay, paint-your-own pottery, and summer camp and after-school art enrichment programs, as well as private wheel and drawing classes.
Meg wasn’t sure of her professional direction three decades ago, but she knew she adored clay and never wanted to work for anyone else. She says that at first, her children “were lovely little chair ornaments” in her basement studio. “Eventually, they became teachers, clay and glaze slingers,” she says.
While the trio has provided creative outlets for hundreds of kids and adults in the East Bay, WeirdGirl Creations has extended its colorful reputation to other states and even other continents. “We had a group of children come to our summer camp last year all the way from Mattapoisett,” says Kayla. “We felt honored that they drove all that way because we offer such a great summer art camp. And we have several children who come to our camp annually while they vacation in RI from their homes in Arizona, Seattle, London, Orlando, Florida, Manhattan and China.”
But the most memorable student creation came directly from Barrington, from a father who told the women he didn’t have artistic skills. “To this day, the best piece of pottery that I have ever seen painted at my studio was created by Bob Tisler, a dad in town,” Meg says. “He painted coasters for his brother’s wedding. He said he wasn’t creative. So, he painted stick figures representing himself and, I think, his brother or sister. One stick figure was pushing the other stick figure down some stick figure stairs. Hilarious, personal, and I am sure, a treasured wedding gift to this day.”
Meg attributes their success to a quality set of products and a niche service. “Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about,” she says. “Our experience makes us successful,” adds Kyla. “We can help our clients because we know what we’re doing... I think there is a definite cohesiveness to the work on our website, but we each have our own unique style as well.” As the saying goes, the family that plays together, stays together and these women know how to have fun. “I know that whenever we are at the studio, we can laugh with and at each other,” Kyla says with a smile. Bianca has also started her own company, Trashy Bow Couture. She creates hair bows and headpieces, all from recycled materials. Clients can mail their “trash” or discarded memorabilia and Bianca will create a wearable hair accessory or bow tie.
The family has also reached out into the community. “There is a real need in Barrington to raise awareness and aid in prevention of underage substance use,” adds Meg. “That’s why we started our not-for-profit FAB, which is ‘For Anything But... alcohol, drugs or tobacco.’ We run substance-free activities all-year from summer art camp, after-school art, Friday night hoops. We hold an annual 5-on-5 basketball tournament, and create the FAB tile murals, which decorate public space in multiple businesses in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.”
“We really love this studio,” says Kayla. “It’s different every single day.”