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Pottery favorite not moving far

Kiln-Man-Jar-O uproots to new office only a few blocks down the road
by: Vern Uyetake, 
Leyna Harman, left, and her grandmother Sandra Harman, right, at Kiln-Man-Jar-O pottery in Lake Oswego.

Linda Sirianni fulfilled a life-long dream the moment she left behind the bland corporate world to buy Kiln-Man-Jar-O, a colorful pottery-painting studio in Lake Oswego.

A collector of Italian hand-painted pottery and a cancer survivor, she knew she could pursue personal bliss while inspiring kids and adults to tap into their creativity.

'I honored the little voice inside me that said, 'You're right-brained, so do what you love,'' said Sirianni, a Portland resident. 'This is my present to me.'

But when she took over the studio in November, Sirianni realized that for it to survive, it would need to move. The cost of rent was simply too high and the lease agreement was too cumbersome.

Most of all, she didn't want it to leave downtown Lake Oswego.

'It could either stay here and die, or find new life in a new space,' she said.

So, with the help of her husband and friends, Sirianni will carefully box up her ceramics at the end of April and move them to a new studio at 425 Second Street in the Country Square Shopping Center - two blocks from its current location on B Avenue.

'When I tell people we're moving, they get this stricken look on their faces,' she said. 'And then I tell them, 'It's just two blocks!''

Hearing the news is a relief to many - especially kids. For the past 10 years, Kiln-Man-Jar-O has achieved significant popularity, especially among the young crowd. It is the only studio of its kind in town.

'At least half of Lake Oswego's youth have had a birthday here at some point in their lives,' Sirianni said.

Kiln-Man-Jar-O makes most of its profit by hosting group celebrations - anniversaries, births and birthdays to name a few. Customers choose a blank ceramic piece - such as a bowl, plate or statue - and add a touch of color to personalize it and commemorate the event.

'Most people paint a mug their first time here,' Sirianni said.

The Portland Red Lizards Running Club, for example, came together to paint giant ceramic lizards and drink beer. A female step aerobics group, the 'Step-Sisters,' painted a plate to honor a friend's birthday.

Scout packs, church groups, bridal showers and fund-raising teams also congregate at the studio. Painting becomes a way for friends, co-workers and families to bond, Sirianni added.

'It's so wonderful to watch the daddies and daughters work together,' she said.

It's also a joyous occasion, she said, when the finished product comes out of the kiln better than its creator expected. Sirianni places them in her 'Masterpiece Window' up front to await pick-up.

'The fun part of the business is opening the kiln after a fire,' she said. 'It's like, 'Pow!' and color like the Fourth of July.'

'People are astounded all of the time,' she added.

Her new studio will feature about the same amount of public space, but the theme will focus on Italy instead of Mount Kilimanjaro, the enormous mountain in Tanzania.

Its new name, Dipinto De Mano, means 'painted by hand' in Italian. The term is often stamped on the bottom of Italian pottery.

Sirianni plans to outfit the new space with Italian décor and host a grand opening with Italian food and drink. The date of the event has not been determined, but Sirianni hopes to move into the new digs before May 10, Mother's Day.

'People are really attached to this place,' she said.