(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Like a lot of women, Chrissy Lawrence wanted to figure out a way to work outside of her home and still spend time with her young children.

And, like some women, she found a way to do it, though her work often feels, and certainly looks, more like fun. Lawrence owns and runs Come Clay with Me, the paint-your-own-ceramic place on Scholls Ferry Road in Beaverton.

'My wedding shower was actually at one of these kinds of studios, and I thought it was so neat,' she reflects. Later on, when this former school teacher became pregnant with her first child, she started thinking about how she might be able to continue with some kind of work and still spend time with her baby. She says with ease, 'I researched it for a year, and then … I just did it!'

Lawrence admits that she has had some hard days, and she explains that while they've been open for six years, it took a lot of work to lay the groundwork and get the business up and running.

'I basically built it from the ground up,' Lawrence said. She gladly shares the glory of her inviting little studio and is proud that her family, friends and even some former students have helped her run the place.

'It is doing great now,' she said. 'I am there two nights a week and I also have some great people who are helping us out.'

She is delighted that some of her former students from when she taught at Raleigh Hills Elementary School in Beaverton are now old enough to work and can come help her with classes, camps and the day-to-day workings of the shop.

Because there are similar places in town, Chrissy knew that she had to have a hook to bring people to her shop. If you've been there, you probably know what she's talking about, and if you've not been there yet, her 'hook' will make you want to go: It is a play room.

The fantastic play area for kids is full of fun toys, gadgets, books and movies for toddlers up to gradeschool-aged children. This means little hands can do a project and then wash up and play while Mom, Dad or Grandma does another project.

Lawrence proudly shares that her grandfather built the shopping center that houses her shop. She reveals, 'It was somewhat low risk for me to open up shop here because I was not involved in a lease situation.' But, her studio has done remarkably well and is now well-known for the wide array of items people can create there, as well as for their community involvement - donating sessions and gift certificates to school auctions and other events; hosting kids' parties, baby and wedding showers, and corporate events; and adding summer camps for the younger set this year.

As a mother of two young children, Lawrence knows that many camps in town are all-day affairs, and that half-day camps run for five days and, as she puts it, 'That's just too long for some kids!'

So she is offering Thursday afternoon summer workshops for children from 1:30 to 3:30. For $25, participants create something to keep (a clock that they paint, for example, or an ice cream bowl), make and eat a themed snack, and share some fun and laughs with staff and other participants. Meanwhile, parents or sitters can run an errand, read a book or even stay to paint their own pottery. A 10 percent discount is given to an additional child who signs up with the first child.

Lawrence is a native Oregonian, and even a native of the little neighborhood where she now lives and works.

'I love it here!' she exclaims. 'My family is close and all my friends from 25 years ago are all right around here. We are just an hour and twenty minutes from the beach, and from the mountains, but there is also so much for families to do right here in Portland!'

For more information on Come Clay with Me, the summer workshops on Thursdays or fund-raisers at the studio, call 503-291-7177.

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