By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — Behind the ostentatious turquoise-colored storefront trimmed in deep purple and sunny yellow in the heart of downtown Bertram, lies the home and headquarters of a surprising enterprise with a national following — Ceramic Dino’s.
Don’t let the name fool you. Inside is an amazing collection of quality Americana arts and crafts in the making and much more including a variety of services and supplies.
“We call our business Ceramic Dino’s (dinosaurs),” said artist and owner Chris Allman, “because we have worked with clay for 50 years and have watched the industry become nearly extinct. Throughout history, ceramics have identified civilizations. Our ceramics will become the relics of the 21st Century; thus our tagline is ‘Make a Relic Yours Today’.”
Located at 247 East Vaughn in Bertram, Ceramic Dino’s is the largest facility of its kind in Central Texas. Ceramic Dino’s finishes pieces in hundreds of techniques, reflecting limitless possibilities in style and design.
Their custom services include hand-building and custom molds. Custom projects, hand-designed tiles and mass production are the backbone of the business. Plans are underway to add garden-like sculptures to their product line.
The Bertram business has an incredible selection of bisque and greenware as well as an array of beautiful finished pieces. They also sell Mayco glazes, Cress Kilns, molds, and many varieties of clays, brushes and tools.
Owner Chris Allman had Chris’ Ceramics in Austin for 38 years before relocating to Bertram. Chris literally grew up an artist, glazing by age three and crafting custom pieces from molds at the age of five. Her staff of artists have vast experience in a wide variety of finishing styles and types.
“Whether it’s an architectural reproduction or an original work, all pieces receive the greatest care and attention,” she said.
The business also offers vast options for custom orders ranging from large tile murals to seasonal decor items like ceramic pumpkins, ornaments and snowmen that can be personalized with any school, business or phrase.
“We can bring to life almost any idea, from prototype to mold and mass production,” Ms. Allman explained.
Ceramic Dino’s also produces one-of-a-kind private artwork, lasting memory keepsakes honoring those special people and animals in people’s lives. Among the private artwork they produce includes body castings of hands, feet, face and torso, ceramic busts and animal busts.
“We produce such pieces in ceramic, preserving minute details of hands, feet and faces for such special cases,” she said. “These pieces take considerable time and attention to produce, so we do not solicit them commercially. The value of the finished piece far outweighs the cost of preserving a part of your family history.”
A variety of commercial products are also produced by Ceramics Dino’s for national distribution. Some of the products include chili bowls, serving and dip trays, mugs and cups, crematory urns, candle holders and tiles.
Previously, the business produced 4,000 piggy banks and 12 museum-quality reproductions of an original 1911 Houdini bust.
Mass-produced custom tiles for public buildings, businesses or homes can be made in high relief, textured, painted, or stained and glazed and be produced in a series where every tile is different or in sets of repeating patterns. Some of their work includes producing logos for swimming pool bottoms, and murals and mosaics for public spaces.
Ceramic Dino’s also welcomes groups of all sizes including scout troops, birthday parties, clubs and social groups to have a class and a great time at the facility. Ms. Allman said that the shop is kid-friendly and the staff also enjoys working with older adults and teenagers. She hopes to add Saturday groups and “Ladies Nights.”
“We are committed to keeping this unique craft alive. People need gentle and creative hobbies,” Ms. Allman said. “We may be dinosaurs, but our existence is a testament to living our passions. We can work from your prototype or create one to your specifications.”
For an art class, a beautiful American handcrafted gift, a business project or just to watch master artisans at work, look for the bright turquoise-colored storefront with the large Ceramic Dino’s sign.
Ceramic Dino’s is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.ceramicdinos.com.