New pottery studio takes first steps

Happy Hands Art & Pottery, a family-oriented art studio, recently opened in the River Road Plaza at 5 River Road in Wilton. The owner, Alla Ionescu, a businesswoman and mother of two, cut the ribbon in late April.
She has already found ways to involve the neighboring companies with her own venture. Bow Tie Wilton Cinemas 4 and Tom-E-Toes Restaurant & Pizza, for example, provide popcorn and pizza for the “Friday Kids’ Night Out,” a biweekly dropoff program offered by the studio in which children paint and watch a movie.
The studio features a number of cutting-edge technologies, including two new kilns that can be monitored by smartphone, a dipping vat, and the smallest slab roller currently available to the public. All materials are 100% non-toxic and food-safe, and the kiln fire is chemical-free, Ionescu said.

Opportunities for crafting include handbuilding, sponging, dipping, and painting a variety of items from practical items such as plates, picture frames and vases to mementos such as handprints, footprints and plaques. People may even craft tiles with value designations to be given as gift cards.
“There’s a little something for everyone here,” said Ionescu. Among the services offered by Happy Hands are weekly summer camps, dropoff programs, play dates, and birthday parties.
In addition, new mothers may participate in programs designed for newborns and toddlers up to the age of 4. There is also an event called the “Frozen Paint Party,” where children are able to listen to music from the popular Disney film, Frozen, while creating and painting Frozen-themed ceramics.

“We’ve had adults, kids, babies, and teens up to the age of 14 come and enjoy themselves,” Ionescu said, “and we adjust our programs to offer greater challenges for the older kids.”
She believes firmly in the balance between constructive direction and creative freedom. “We guide children with the use of specific techniques while still giving them the room and freedom to follow their own designs.”
Ionescu credits much of her new business to inspiration she received from her 10-year-old daughter, Stephanie. In fact, Stephanie chose the colors of the interior as well as those of the outdoor awning, and she produced a number of pieces that are now on display as samples.
“My daughter is the artist and my son is the technician,” Ionescu said with a laugh. “He understands all of the technologies we use and he helps me do everything on the tech side of things.”

Ionescu’s plans for the future are already underway, and include reaching out to local schools, working with Girl Scouts, and incorporating special needs programs. She also expressed an interest in coordinating outings with assisted-living organizations.
When asked, “Why Wilton?” Ionescu revealed that she chose her new place of business over the rest of Fairfield County and she did so out of a strong desire to operate in a family-oriented area.
“We’re thrilled to be in Wilton, and we’re so excited to work side-by-side with such a great community,” Ionescu said.