A recent coffee date with my mom and sister involved a little bit of caffeine and a whole lot of clay! We went to the Clay Cafe at the Ward Center, where customers can paint their own pottery pieces while enjoying some coffee and baked goods.Every day, Clay Cafe inspires customers to put on their creative caps.

This is a perfect activity for the family and an even better way to bring home something you made to remind you of your Hawaii vacation. Bowls, plates, picture frames and little figurines serve as blank canvases for customers to paint. Basically, you choose your piece, plan your project and paint! There are also underglazes, brushes, stencils and stamps to help guide you along in your creative undertaking.

I chose to paint a bowl, while my mom painted a little fish figurine and my sister painted a mug. We found a set of opened seats on a long table. Behind us, a bunch of little girls celebrated a birthday party with paints. And surrounding us along bright yellow walls hung dozens of finished pieces to be used for more guidance and inspiration.

I was elbow-to-elbow with a mother and her daughter from Michigan, who told me they’d heard about Clay Cafe from their hotel concierge. It was exactly what they were looking for – a relaxing bonding activity that involved a touch of creativity. I was curious to see what they had painted, and quite appropriately, their picture frames had a few things to remember their first trip to Hawaii by – a sunset, palm trees and a little surfer dude. (Top) Wonder which team my sister’s roots for? (Bottom) Mom’s fishy friend.

I swear I had every intention on giving my finished bowl to my boyfriend, who has cereal and coffee every morning like it’s a religion. But with each brush stroke, the piece slowly took a more feminine turn that I didn’t think would fit his liking. So by an artistic twist of fate, the bowl became my own, and I couldn’t wait to see the finished product. After about an hour, we put the final touches on our works of art and gave the wet pieces to one of the workers, who added them to the box of items that needed to be fired up in the kiln. They told us to expect a call for pick up within four to seven days.The before (top) and the after (bottom); fill it with cereal, salad, soup, you name it. Gotta love that functional art.

You don’t have to be an experienced painter to go to Clay Cafe. The stencils and stamps do wonders, and the staff was really helpful. I took a lot of art classes in college, but there was just something about being in a room full of creative minds again that made me want to go back to the cafe! After all, I still owe my boyfriend his cereal bowl.

CLAY CAFE • 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., Bldg. A1, Honolulu, HI 96814 • Opens Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm • 808-589-1808 • www.claycafehawaii.com • Parking available; Near bus route


  1. Alyssa, you are amazing! You find these very cool off the beat & track kine of ‘fun stuff fo do’! This is something I am definately gonna do with my mo’opuna (granddaughter) Looks like an excellent bonding type of activity….and what a great idea for our visitors, as these make wonderful memorable keepsakes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this place! My daughter celebrated her birthday here a few years ago – her friends had so much and they loved their keepsakes!

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