Category Archives: Pottery

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re like me, you pride yourself in finding the perfect gift for your friends and family! You’re on a quest to find something that is both unique and a great match for their personality and interests and sometimes that’s really hard!  I’m here to help you make a match!

My Etsy shop is well stocked for all of your holiday gift needs.  Use coupon code: STAR2015 for 20% off of your purchase. Please note: all orders placed between Dec 3-12 will be shipped on Dec 14-15.  Orders on other dates will ship, as usual, in 1-3 business days.  

Here are a roundup of ideas if you’re stumped on what to get some folks on your holiday list!


For your favorite knitter:
This mug has a rich surface both visually and physically.  The dots feel great in your hands when you’re cupping the bottom of this mug. Available in my Etsy shop and at Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago.  Emily Murphy Pottery knit mug


For households with (or without!) kids:
These foaming soap dispensers are great for anyone who uses soap (which is everyone!), and they are especially great for households with kids.  The foam is really easy for them to spread on their hands, and the heft of the dispenser means it’ll stay put and not get knocked over easily.  I also have a selection of non-foaming dispensers in my shop. Both are available at Gallery 360 in Minneapolis.Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain foam soap dispensers


For folks with kids or with pets:
Travel mugs / lidded cups are great when you have little beings (kids or furry friends) running around and running the risk of knocking over your precious, and much needed cup of coffee.  These lids will help minimize the spillage and keep your drink hot! They can be used with or without the lid and are microwave/ dishwasher safe.  They come in a variety of sizes of styles/ sizes/ shapes. Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain travel mug


For those on the go:
These travel tumblers with silicone lids are perfect for that special someone who is always on the go- commuting to work, heading off to a pottery class or hanging out in the back yard and want to keep the bees out of their beverage! They come in a rainbow of colors and the texture of the dots keep this handle-less mug from slipping in your hand.Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain travel tumblers


For the special kid in your life:
Kids love using real pots and I love making special pots just for them!  As adults, we try to limit the exposure kids have to plastic and what is a better alternative to our plastic saturated world than one of a kind, handmade porcelain mugs!  These mini-mugs sell out quickly and I’m continually making more, so be sure to check back regularly for more colors and designs!
Emily Murphy Pottery kid sized cups


For your favorite gardener:
These vintage seed packet mugs are generous in size (they hold a whole pint!).  Fill the mug with a selection of actual packets of seeds or some hand tools  and help your favorite gardener dream of spring! 
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For a graphic designer:
This thrown and altered “cut and paste” plate is the perfect gift for the graphic designer in your life!
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain squared plate


For the host(ess) with the mostess:
It can be hard to find a small, inexpensive AND handmade gift! You might need one for your kid’s teacher, for a host(ess), for a neighbor that brings in your mail when you’re away or to have on hand in case someone unexpectedly gives you a thoughtful gift and you want to have one to be able to reciprocate! These little dishes  are just $20 (plus 20% off that with coupon code STAR2015). They’re perfect for dipping dishes, spoon rest + teabag holder, jewelry holders or an infinite number of other uses! Chopsticks not included – but you could add a couple of pairs or a box of tea to make a sweet little gift! Emily Murphy Pottery dipping dishes


For the new homeowner (or apartment dweller):
My porcelain honey pots are the perfect gift for someone who has just moved into a new home.  Or maybe you know that they LOVE honey. Pair with a jar of local honey to make a thoughtful wedding gift or housewarming gift!
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain honey pots with dots
Emily Murphy Pottery porcelain honey pots


For the coffee lover:
And of course the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life is a handmade porcelain mug! Everyone has a preference for the perfect type of mug.  Some like a BIG mug.  Others like a smaller, americano sized cup.  Some prefer mugs with a narrow opening to keep their beverage extra hot.  And some like a mug with a tactile surface that they can feel while quietly enjoying their morning tea.

You can pair a handmade mug with a bag of your favorite coffee. Mine is Terra Nova which is my brother’s coffee roasting company located in Surry, NH.  You can buy some here
Emily Murphy Pottery curvy mugs
Emily Murphy Pottery americano cups

Or you can pair it with a print of this this and include it with their new mug.  I include the ounces that each cup holds in the descriptions in my Etsy shop so if you know someone’s favorite beverage, you can use this chart to be sure you’re getting a mug that fits their favorite espresso drink (you just have to convert ML to OZ).
espresso


*Don’t forget that orders placed between Dec 3-12 will ship on Dec 14-15.  All other orders will ship in the usual 1-3 business days.  Plenty of time to arrive before Christmas!

Emily Murphy Pottery sale

Thank you so much for supporting me throughout the years! It brings me so much joy to be able to do what I love and send my pots out into the world!

If there is something that you’re wishing that you could find, but don’t see in my shop, just ask.  My full inventory is not listed online and I still have 1 decal firing to go before Christmas!

New! foam soap dispensers

I have been working on a new item this fall… foam soap dispensers. I’ve been using (plastic… eek!) foam soap dispensers for a while at home.  Guiltily, I admit. They sit next to my regular handmade pumps. I have been looking for the foam pumps for a while so I can make my own and just recycle the plastic pumps!  Finally I found them!  Foam soap dispensers are so great for kids.  It’s super easy for little ones to get the soap all over when hand washing with foam.  That’s why I started using them at home. But I love them for myself too!

Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser-001

You can purchase foam soap refills in many stores and online.  And you can also make your own! Here is a list of places to purchase foam soap refills:

  • Method foam soap refills form Target (in stores) and Amazon
  • Dial foam soap on Amazon
  • Kiss my Face foaming soap on Amazon
  • Vermont Organics Unscented foaming soap on Amazon also available in a gallon refill here.

A Google search will help you find many more options.  Below the next image are some links to recipes to make your own foaming soap.

Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser-002

Here’s a link to make your own foaming soap by watering down regular liquid soap. And here is one to make your own by using castille soap like Dr. Bronner’s.  You can find tons of variations on these recipes through a Google search.

Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser-0021 

This one is using one of my new glazes:

Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser-0011Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser2

Here is the pump in action!  A special thanks to my favorite hand model :)

Emily Murphy Pottery Handmade Porcelain Foam Soap Dispenser

A quick reminder that Saturday, November 30 starts Etsy Holiday Sale.  20% off your whole purchase (except custom orders), plus $5 shipping in the US.  Enter coupon code: JINGLE at checkout to get the discount. honey pots, travel mugs and soap dispensers1If you’re in Minneapolis/ St. Paul, I’ll be having a Holiday Studio Sale next week, December 5, 7-8, 2013. More to come on that!

Tutorial: How to make a square plate on the wheel

Before I delve too deeply into this post, I want to thank everyone for the warm “welcome back” that I received after my last post; comments on the post, comments on Facebook and some really wonderful emails. Thanks for all the warm fuzzies and cheering on! I’m happy to be blogging again!

And now for the fun stuff! How to make a square plate on the wheel. Or at least my version of a squared off plate.

First you have to start by throwing a deep plate/ shallow bowl. I want to have a nice curve to the piece, even after I cut off the sides of the plate. So I have found that making a deep plate or shallow bowl (however you want to look at it)  is the best form to start with. I am working in porcelain and want my end result to be a small plate. Something just right to hold a sandwich. I start off with 3.5 pounds of clay. Because of the way the foot is cut, it’s good to leave a thick bottom to trim. I also really seem to like these to have sort of a chunky feel. When I make them thinner, they just feel like there isn’t enough clay there. But really, that’s up to you.

It is important to make sure that your plate is in just the right stage of leather hard for trimming and altering. If it’s too soft it’ll warp too much from all of the handling. And if it’s too dry, you’ll just struggle and it won’t have that “fresh” look. I like a look where you can tell something was made without too much fuss. Marks that have made with a single bold movement.   It takes good timing, lots of practice (aka mistakes) and self restraint to not overwork something.

I trim a foot that flows easily into the form. Yes, I love my Giffin Grip. And my Bison trimming tool.

Then I flip the plate back over onto a bat. I use a sharp, thin cutting tool to mark my lines. An Xacto is perfect for this, or there is a similar type tool that I think Kemper makes. I enjoy the not perfectly square shape so I just kind of go with it.

I’m sorry that with all of these photos I do not have one of the actual cutting of the pot. It’s too hard to make the cut and take a photo at the same time. I hold the knife at an angle so you can see the thickness of the pot from the top – which is your typical view when eating off of one. And then I cut. I might hold my breath. I’m not sure. But I do know that I don’t stop or hesitate. Just go in and make a bold cut.

And then repeat on all 4 sides. There are times when maybe the line isn’t quite as fluid as I’d like, so I will use a Surform tool (or a Mudtool Shredder) to clean it up, and then smooth it back out again with a soft little red rib. But again, show some restraint here. Or at least I have to do so myself!

Then I flip the newly squared plate upside down onto a piece of foam. This is important. If you don’t put it on something that is cushiony, then you’re either warp it or mark up the corners of the plate. I use high density foam that I get from Joann Fabrics. It’s the same stuff I used on this post: How to make a foam bat. You can use one of those egg crate mattress toppers or whatever else you might have hanging around.

Then I use my Mudtool Mudcutter. This is on my top 5 list for favorite tools. The wire is very thin and tight. I use it for so many things. For me, it’s the only thing that really works for cutting the feet on these pieces. I tape the wire onto the foot ring to mark where I am going to cut. Then I cut down, over and then up again. And it’s just like cutting the sides of the piece. Make bold, confident cuts!

I think it gives the piece some much needed lift. I just love the movement and individuality of each piece. It’s fun to embrace that aspect of the pots.

And there you go … that’s how I make square plates on the wheel. Although technically much of it is done off of the wheel. It’s quite liberating to cut into a piece. I hope you’ll give it a try and put your own spin and unique character.

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And just a little parting story… The other day I set up a plate for Ada with a fruit snack. Cantaloupe, watermelon and bananas arranged on plastic plate. I put it on her little table. She sat down, ready to eat. Then got right up, went into the next room. And then emerged back at her table with a porcelain bowl. She put it down on her table and started transferring her fruit into the porcelain bowl, off of the plastic frog plate and then started eating. This potter mama was quite proud.


Bowl by Brian Boyer.

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 And as always, if you’d like to sign up to get these posts via email directly into your inbox, just go here: http://potteryblog.com/subscribe/

Thanks for reading!

the not so long lost blogger

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Nearly two years, to be exact. It’s funny, because even though it’s been that long, I still consider myself a blogger. I finally decided that I should just dive back in and write. I’ll fill in some of the blanks now, but some of them later. If I tried to fit 2 years into a single post, it just wouldn’t happen. Actually, that has been part of the problem. So I will mostly go ahead as though my last post was just a few days ago. Thanks for still being around to read this.

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My time in my studio has been quite regular lately.  I haven’t been the most prolific potter (more on that later). I still feel like I’m finding my way in a new world (porcelain…oxidation…electric kiln…new glazes…). But I am also loving the feeling like everything I do is a choice. There are no default answers. I’m trying to really let myself be in that moment for a while.

Mostly I have been on the wheel, but I have been venturing off a bit lately to do some handbuilding. I’ve been trying to keep the timing of things pretty reasonable, not throwing more than I can trim/handle/decorate in a timely manner. Sometimes the pace of handbuilding fits right into that schedule.

I can’t seem to make too many mugs. I can make mugs for months and still manage to not have any in stock. So I make more…. I am not complaining at all. I absolutely love mugs. Making them and using them.

I seem to be stockpiling bisque right now. When it’s time to glaze, I really take over my whole studio (who doesn’t?). So I decided that for this round I will have enough for 2-3 glaze kilns full of work. I am also working on some decals for some of my pieces. So when the time comes for that, I can focus my energy there.

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I know that one of the reasons why I still feel like a blogger is because of Facebook. I have been keeping up my Emily Murphy Facebook page pretty regularly with updates, photos and sharing things that I think you might find interesting. And it’s been a great way to have a dialog with other potters, bloggers and lovers of clay. I have really appreciated this outlet over the past few years. Facebook has been making changes lately to try to get people with professional pages like this to pay to have our content reach more than a handful of people. I know that I can’t see myself being able to pay for that, so I’m hoping that you’ll try to work around the system a bit. There are a couple of ways that you can make sure that you’re getting updates from pages like mine. One is that when you “like” a page, you have to make sure that it also has the “show in News Feed” setting (see image below)

The other way is to interact with the page. The more you “like” or comment on something, the more likely it is going to show up in your newsfeed. And a bonus is that it makes things more fun for everyone! Part of what prompted me to resume blogging is because this reminded me that blogging is a better way to make sure you’re reaching people who want to be reached. And for having content that is archived and searchable. For me… for now… there isn’t going to be one outlet or the other. I’m going to keep blogging and keep updating things on Facebook. And I hope that you’ll come with!

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And on a personal note…

This is my daughter, Ada. She was born on April 9, 2011 and has been the most amazing distraction from writing, making pots… sleeping.  (although now she is a champion sleeper, hence the time back in the studio and on the computer…)

Is it ok if I add one more?

Me and my girl

 

New cups, and updates in the clay blogging world

Here are some cups that I’ve been working on…

This is just a little peak at what I’ve been working on. I am making a bunch of tea bowls that will be given as gifts/favors at our wedding celebration this summer. It’s fun to think about these pieces going out to our families and friends all toasting out of these cups, then bringing them home as reminders of the celebration. Ian’s been having fun decorating some of the cups too.  If I could just give away all the pieces that I make, I would be a very happy potter! But it’s not such a great business model… But I’m so happy to have the excuse to give a slew of pots away this summer!

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Here are some more updates, and things that I’ve been thinking about lately…

I was lucky enough to be invited to join in on the first firing of Donovan Palmquist and Colleen Riley’s new wood kiln this weekend. Below are some of the pots that I had in the firing. I’ll share with you the finished pieces when they’re out of the kiln! It’s really amazing to be in Minnesota. There are so many amazing potters here- and I’m having so much fun meeting new clay folks every week!

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There’s a new blogger around. Actually, there are quite a few!  But I wanted to share with you Marcia Tani Paul’s new blog, Ceramic Arts: Clay, Food and More… Marcia is one of the many Minnesota potters that I’ve been lucky to meet. Take a look, and be prepared to be hungry!

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Congratulations to Michael Kline and his 1000th post on his blog, Sawdust and Dirt! Talk about prolific! Michael’s been such a great contributor to the clay blogging community- I’m looking forward to the next 1000 posts!

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I’ve been making a ton of cups in my studio over the past couple of months. You might have seen some of them in my last blog post. In the middle of cup making expedition, this Sequoia Miller wrote this great blog post about cups. It was a very timely read. This sweet jar of Sequoia’s is a cousin to one of his jars that I’m lucky to have in my collection.

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Since I’m talking about blogs…

As you know, I have a big list of clay blogs that I subscribe to and enjoy reading while eating my steel cut oats every morning. I want to ask for a bit of help from you guys out there. Let me know if there are any blogs missing, and also if there are any that are defunct on my list. It’s time for an update! Just leave a comment below, or a note on my Facebook Fan Page, or send me an email. If you’re interested in setting up a blog reader with clay blogs to read over your morning coffee, I have directions on how to do it on my blogroll.

A couple of reminder notes about my list. I have to keep the list limited in some way- so I only include clay blogs, and mostly pottery blogs at that. And I try to limit them to ones that have mostly clay content. And it needs to have original content- not only Etsy listings or sale updates.

If you want a really complete list of blogs, check out the really complete list over at Slipcast, The Ceramics Blog.  It’s impressive!

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I have some more things I’ve been wanted to share with all of you, but I think I’ll call it tonight and write another post tomorrow. Until then…

Assignment: Exploring a form, part 1

I taught advanced throwing and soda firing classes at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago for the past 10 years. I’m not currently teaching, but I am giving myself assignments. It’s something that I’ve always done to push myself to discover new forms, new surfaces and refine the old standards. Last month, Michael Kline posted an assignment on his blog, 12 before noon. Blog readers  had a lot of fun with, so I’d share the assignments that I give to myself.

So here is first part my favorite self assignment.

  • Pick a form. Something simple: mugs, small bowls, tea bowls, etc…
  • Pick a weight for the piece. If it’s cups, I usually do a small range: 3/4 lbs – 1 1/4 lbs. If it’s plates, I usually pick the same weight. Maybe 3 lbs. I did mugs this week, so all the descriptions below are for mugs.
  • Weigh out and wedge up at least 12 pieces. (Do more if you can. The more the better. Do 40 or 50.)
  • Think about the different parts of the form: lip, handle, foot, curves… Think about how these parts relate to one another.
  • Consider future glazing and decorating. Segment the form for clear places to decorate. Add lines for a glaze to break. If it’s going to be fired in an atmospheric kiln, think about where the liner glaze will stop.
  • What will the cup be used for? it might be used for: coffee, tea, cocoa, latte, espresso.., and
  • Think about who might use it and where. A coffee cup for the office, a mug for a nightly cup of Sleepytime Tea, etc… Is the cup going to be cradled and savored? Should it have a narrower opening to keep the coffee extra hot? If the user has little kids or pets, something with a wide, stable base is really important.
  • Start throwing – different forms. Push each form to be different from the previous one. Some will be radically different. Some with be variations on earlier pieces. Some you’ll love, some you’ll want to smush. But don’t, yet. You’ll want to study it to figure out why it didn’t work and might discover why part of it did.

Note: All these pieces shown below are porcelain in greenware/leather hard state. They are not decorated yet- that’s not part of this part of the assignment. (btw, I took these quick snapshots on my new studio photography set-up. Blog post about that coming up!) I want a form to be able to be strong and stand on it’s own regardless of the decoration, glaze or firing of the piece. So to study them in a leather hard state is perfect.

I shared some quick thoughts about the forms below each grouping (which are in no particular order). These notes are not at all comprehensive, deep critiques, just quick gut reactions to the forms. Feel free to just look at the images. Or if you want to know what my thoughts are about them, you can read the notes.

group 1:

top left: I’m usually a no-trim mug kinda potter. But I’ve really been loving the yunomi/mug hybrid. I love how the handle placement is so obvious.

top right: This is a standard form for me. I love how it feels to hold when you’re drinking from it, but I don’t love the handle placement. Need to push this more.

bottom left: Great for atmospheric firing. Top third can be glazed and has room to run.

bottom right: Eh- not my favorite. But playing around with yunomi hybrid.

group 2:
a

top left: I like the easy curves of this piece. But I think I want it to feel “fuller”

top right: Standard “diner” mug. Should try it thicker- with a heftier lip. But that’s hard for me to do!

bottom left: I like that the top and bottom of the handle have obvious placement. The curves and lines of this mug will be great in a soda or wood kiln.

bottom right: The form a a bit weak for my taste. But this type of form is great for hot chocolate with whipped cream.  There’s lots of room to top it off. Also good for a latte. I want to play around with this. Taller form, lower handle placement.

group 3:

top left: This is my least favorite of one of my new favorite forms. The lines are too stifled.  I prefer the curvier ones. But didn’t know until I played the form in both directions.

top right: This is a form that I always have a hard time with handle placement. I have a mug from another potter that gets it perfectly. But I can’t do it. I’ll always try, and maybe someday I’ll get there. I love drinking peppermint tea in the winter out of a full mug like this.

bottom left: I love the elegant flow of these curves. The taller form keeps the hot liquid hot too. And the curves feel good to hold.

bottom right: Another one of my favorite new forms. I’m excited to do some simple decorating on this form. The band is just calling for some attention.

group 4:

top left: This is a pretty large, wide mug. Maybe good for soup?

top right: This form is getting a little closer to what I want. I love the fluidity of the form. But I want the proportions to be a little different.

bottom left: This form is working a little better for me than the previous iteration. But still isn’t quite gelling. Something to push a bit more.

bottom right: I love the looseness of this form- both when I was throwing it, and the finished product. It has that night balance between a nice strong form and an ease of form.

group 5:

top left: This is similar to one in the previous group, but I tried to play around with having a stronger line and it doesn’t quite work. Next time I think I’ll make the top of the form a bit taller.

top right: I like the curves of this form with the break in the form at the top. I also like that that break gives me a nice place to attach a handle.

bottom left: Another version of one of my new favorites. Something that doesn’t come through in these photos is scale. Some of these similar forms are quite different in size.

bottom right: A taller diner style cup. But this one is quite large. Great for someone with big hands. The very linear lines of the form work well with most of my decoration. A big blank canvas.

group 6:

top left: This is my favorite one of this kind of form. The proportions and fluidity are just right. This is a very generous size cup.

top right: This gets the mix of the softer curves with the stronger angle/line break in the form. Will definitely explore this form more.

bottom left: This is a form I haven’t played with before. I was thinking about those stacking mugs. I didn’t think about making them actually stack, but maybe I will.

bottom right: Again, this cup is a different scale from the previous one. It’s a bit smaller. More “standard” mug size.

group 7:

top left: The curvy mug with a straighter top.

top right: Diner mug with more of a waist. I like that it give you extra room for your knuckles without having the handle loop out too far.

bottom left: I really like the strength of this form. I am mug, hear me roar.

bottom right: This is a variation of one of my first mug forms. I like playing with the proportions of the top and bottom. A slight change makes a major difference.

group 8:

top left: The curvy tea bowl hybrid with a straighter top. I like the swelling of the bottom part of the form, and the restrained upper part.

top right: I wanted to push the idea of the indented band around the cup, but it didn’t work. Often times, creating a whole new form with a very specific idea leads to an overworked piece. But sometimes that’s just where you have to start.

bottom left: Similar to earlier ones, but with a straighter bottom. Prefer the curves.

bottom right: This is another new form that I want to play around with. Nice and stable and a nice break in the form that can be a nice inspiration for decorating this piece.

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There are a couple more parts to this assignment, but that should be enough to get you started for today.

This assignment is something that I do pretty regularly. Not just for mugs, for all different forms. I prefer to sketch in clay rather than paper. By doing so many different forms, it really pushes me to try things that I wouldn’t do otherwise. When you start getting to number 10, you’ll really have to start creating new forms and pushing your standard ones.  If you do this in the next 2 weeks- take a photo of your grouping and email it to me: emily at emily murphy . com. Maybe line them up and take a photo of them in a row. It’ll be easier for me to post than to have to edit individual photos.

Have fun!
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If you’re a Facebook user, become a Fan on the Emily Murphy Pottery Fan Page. I post there almost daily- links, updates, photos, and questions. It’s been a really fun way to get to know you guys and some great information and advice is shared and debated on there.

Pretty coffee stains

Take a look at these cool pieces by Bethan Laura Wood that evolve with use.

coffee-stain-1acoffee-stain-1b

coffee-stain-2acoffee-stain-2b
About these pieces:

Stain is a set of a teacups designed to improve through use. This project examines the assumption that use is damaging to a product (For example, scratches on an iPod).

The interior surface of the cup is treated so as to stain more in predetermined places. The more the cups are used, the more the pattern is revealed. Over time they will build up an individual pattern dependent on the users personal way of drinking tea.

I have a soft spot for coffee stained mugs.  I don’t have any cups that have stains as fancy as these, but my favorite pieces definitely are marked from years of use.

People tend to have very strong opinions on the interior glazing of mugs. I have customers who come in wanting dark glazed interiors so there is no chance of staining. And others who want a light interior so they can see how steeped their tea is.  I make some of each depending on the design of the piece. My personal preference is a lighter glaze so I can see how much milk I’ve added to my morning coffee.  What’s your?

Dinnerware, a platter, wall vases and a whole bunch of cups

As promised, here are some photos of some recent work. I got them out of the kiln right before our July road trip. And had the photographed this week by my photographer, Guy Nicol.

This is some new dinnerware that I’ve been designing:

And this is part of my newest platter series:

I’m really excited for these new wall vases.
These pieces are sort of a hybrid between my oval vases and the wall pieces.
And this is a new surface that you’re going to start seeing on more of my pieces.
I’m really excited for a floral designer to go to town with them! Unfortunately, my favorite designer, Amy Lemaire, has moved away! Amy has done all the arrangements over the past 4 years. You can see some of her past work here

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been in a cup making groove.
I really love the curve & tension in these handles.


You might remember these masked mugs from an earlier post.
The curve of this mug makes me want to fill it with hot cocoa and cup it in my hands on a cold autumn night. That’s not going to happen for a while.
And here are the peace cups that you might remember from a previous post too.
hope. peace. change.

A new compost jar.

One of the great things about being a potter is to be able to make a pot to fulfill a need that I have at home. I can make something that is ‘just right’ instead of ‘good enough’ for the job.

We were in need of a compost jar. I had many parameters in mind when designing it. You might think that it just looks like a regular old jar, but it is oh so much more…

We have these great compost bags that needed to fit the jar but have a bit of an overhang so they can get tied off. There is a groove cut into the jar about a half inch from the lip of the pot so a rubber band can be used to hold the bag in place. The hefty lid is super snug and also acts as a compactor.

You might remember that we live in the middle of Chicago and you probably don’t think about Chicago and composting going very well together. (Actually, you probably don’t think about Chicago and compost at all…) Well, here’s how we do it… We’re friends with our next door neighbors (neighbor Eric is a potter and we work at Lillstreet together.) and they have a great yard and a compost bin on the other side of our scrappy fence. So we just reach over the fence and dump our compost in their bin (the bags make this especially easy). It’s all very quaint and neighborly. We chat over the fence, share homegrown veggies and compare grilling tips.

Here’s Ian dumping the compost tonight:

It might sound a bit silly, but this is another one of those things that makes me happy to live where I live. When we moved to Chicago 9 years ago, I didn’t think that my city life would have much in common with my life growing up in New Hampshire. But it does. We grow vegetables and herbs (on a porch instead of in a garden), go to the farmer’s market, we compost our food scraps and have truly great neighbors.

Masked Mugs

I’m getting ready for a soda firing next week…. and that means that the big pieces are drying and I’m focusing on the smaller pieces, like mugs that will dry more quickly. So many mugs…
I use masking tape on a lot of my work to mask out slip areas. Each side of the mug is different from the opposite side, and all the mugs are different from one another. You can see the mess of masking tape that is sticking to my table after I’ve finished up with a baker’s dozen of mugs. (A mess… but a satisfying mess.) I was excited to find masking tape in about 6 different widths last week. Oh the possibilities!

I’ll post pictures of the finished mugs after next week’s firing! Hopefully there will be a bunch of goodies to show you (and maybe finally some pots will be up on my Etsy page!).