The case of the missing pottery blogger: solved!

Well… after a loooong hiatus from both blogging and making pots, I’m back. I never intended to take such a long break, but the rest of my life kind of took over. Thanks to all of you who inquired about my whereabouts! I kept meaning to write a little update, but it’s been a whirlwind of time the past six months.  I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to in this post.

As many of you know, I recently moved to Minneapolis after 10 years in Chicago. The move was crazy, but the real crazy part was that we bought a duplex last winter that was condemned, and we brought it up to code through months and months and months of intense renovations. The house had a total of 4 units (2 original, 2 illegal units)- which included 4 kitchens and 4 bathrooms and not a single part of any of them was salvageable. The house has 54 windows, and only 4 of them were worth keeping. The house had been empty for 2 years when we bought it. I’m sure much of the deterioration happened during that time. Minnesota winters are rough! But we saw past all that and we fell in love with the house. It’s brick, after all! And the raw space and layout were perfect for us. So we dove in head first and have learned a lot along the way.


Ian and I live on the 2nd floor, and my sister Nora, and her two little boys, Ayrie and Shiya live on the 1st floor. The attic is Ian’s office, and guest space. The basement is my studio and a shared family room. Lucky for me the basement has tall ceilings and full sized windows. It’s the perfect space for me.

For the construction, we tried to hire people that were friends, family, friends of family and friends whenever possible. Most people commuted to work on bikes, so this is what our yard looked like on a busy day:


This picture will just give you a little idea of what the house looked like when we bought it. Our Realtor thought that we were crazy, but now thinks we were brilliant :)

This is what our kitchen looks like now. It’s a pretty dramatic before and after!

We designed these shelves to hold our pots for every day use.  As they were being built, everyone kept saying: what are you doing? These are super engineered to be incredibly sturdy. There are no worries about overloading them! I’ll do a blog post at some point in the future so you can see the interior structure of the shelves.

open-shelving-1We live right in the middle of the city- but we have a barn in our back yard! It needed quite a bit of work, being over a century old, but we’re glad we did it. There is a great loft space that I hope to turn into a showroom someday.


Of course I have tons more pictures of our renovations, but I just picked out a handful to give you a sense of what I’ve been up to. If anyone wants to see more photos, I could post a slideshow of the rest of the house.  My next post will be of my studio progress so far, so there will be some more house photos to come.

* * * * * * *

Then, just as we were nearing the end of our renovations, Ian and I decided, after 13 years together, to make it ‘legal’, and we got married! We had a tiny ceremony, in our living room. It was perfect. We’re planning a larger celebration in the spring in our back yard after the snow thaws but before I begin construction on my soda kiln and kiln building.


So that basically sums up where I’ve been.  It’s been a great year with a lot of exciting changes. I’m anxious to be back to blogging, and back to the world of clay! I have a ton a blog posts lined up in my head, and even more ideas for pots! Thanks for checking back in with me.

Pottery Clearance Sale!

As moving day draws closer, my studio gets a little emptier. I’m officially past the point where I could make any work. My wheels, tools and (most importantly) clay are all packed onto our first Pod. It feels very strange to be without a studio to work in. It’s been a long time since I’ve been without. The house renovations and getting ready for our move to Minneapolis is keeping me plenty busy, but I’m seriously missing making pots.

I’m excited about starting fresh with a whole new body of work from my new studio and (future) new kiln. So I’m selling off most of my inventory. I’m having one last (last minute) Moving Sale this Friday, June 5th from 4pm – 7pm. Everything is at least 50% off. Much of it is marked down even further. I’m finding new gems as I clear off my shelves during the packing process.  If you’re in Chicago, swing by on Friday  after work and say hello and maybe pick up a pot or two. One for yourself and one for that wedding you’re going to this summer!


The Details:

Moving Sale – Final Clearance
**everything must go!**

Emily Murphy’s Pottery Studio
Friday, June 5
4pm – 7pm

studio 205 west – Lillstreet Studios
Chicago, IL 60640

Do you have a woodkiln?

Do you have a woodkiln? Simon Levin is building a map of woodkilns from around the world. It’s a searchable database.  What an amazing resource this is going to be!  Help out by submitting your kiln or passing this onto someone you know who has a wood kiln.   

For privacy reasons only post kilns submitted by the owner’s of those kilns will be added.

If you would like to add your kiln to the database: Please email Simon Levin, with the following information: 

  • Type of kiln
  • Size in cubic feet
  • Street address and zip code
  • Any information as to what the kiln building looks like, ex: green roof or to the east of the house
  • Contact name and information
  • Any website you want linked to the information

This would be a great thing to do for soda kilns too…maybe after I move…


Another great project that Simon has been working on is The Studio Potter Collector Card Series. Its a fundraiser for my favorite journal: The Studio Potter. This is the first in a series of 3 packs of 11 and includes MVP’s and Rookies :)



Moving Sale – Mugs and Dinnerware

I’m almost done setting up my studio for this weekend’s sale. Displays are getting dusted, pots are getting priced and shelves are getting organized. It’s making the prospect of packing up my studio a little less overwhelming. 

I’ve been sharing previews of my moving sale all week on my blog and I’m continuing today with some shots of mugs for sale.  As usual, the photos aren’t the best, but they will do. It’s a good reminder for me to not paint the wall where my display will be in my new studio light yellow or pale green. I like the colors when I’m in my studio and the pots look good against them in person, but the combo of florescent light and the wall colors just don’t look great when I try to take photos of my studio display. There will also not be any florescent lights in my new studio either – but that’s not something I need to be reminded of!





And in addition to the mugs, I have plates, pasta bowls and bowls from my shino dinnerware line.  These pieces are just very comfortable everyday pots. At least that’s how I see them.  




The details on  the sale:

Emily Murphy’s Pottery Studio Moving Sale!

Friday, April 24, 5pm – 7pm 
Saturday, April 25, 10am – 6pm

at least 35% off all pottery* including already marked down sale! priced items

There will also be bins of $5 and $10 pots.

After 10 years at Lillstreet, Emily’s moving to Minneapolis and doesn’t want to move any of the pots in her studio! Help her raise money for her new soda kiln! 

2nd floor – studio 205 west – Lillstreet Studios
4401 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640

mugs – plates – teapots – vases – pitchers – platters – bowls – bottles – soap dispensers – necklaces – spoon rests – tea bowls – serving trays – tumblers – floor vases – cruets – pasta bowls – wall pieces – tiles

Also for sale

  • art books
  • aprons
  • pottery display items
  • pottery tools
  • photo backdrops 

*unless otherwise marked

for additional information:

Moving Sale – Practical Pots

Generally speaking, pottery is practical. But I have  mentally categorized a group of my pots that I think of as extra practical. I decided that today’s focus for the sneak peak into my Pottery Studio Moving Sale would be the super practical pots that once you have, you’re not sure how you ever lived without them (a little dramatic, perhaps).


It’s time to pick up a new soap dispenser for your bathroom and kitchen! Brushed stainless steel or copper tops these soda-fired porcelain and stoneware pots. Why use one of the plastic dispensers that the soap came in when you could have a handmade dispenser next to your sink instead?

One of the galleries that I’ve worked with for years used to beg me to make honey pots. I put them off for a long time. I make pots that I use, but I had never used a honey dipper before, so I wasn’t so keen on the idea. Then I used one and I was totally won over. They’re ingeniously designed little utensils. Or if you’re not a honey user, you can turn it into a sugar jar by switching out the dipper with a spoon. A honey pot is something that sits out in your kitchen, why nice make it a beautiful handmade pot?



This is one of my newest additions to the practical pots collection. It’s a spoon rest for your teaspoon and teabag. The problem: coffee and tea stains on the counter top or edge of the sink from setting your spoon down that you just used to stir your coffee or take out your teabag with.  The solution: a little dish that was made to hold your spoon and a teabag. Problem solved.


This is where the spoon rest idea started. When I’m cooking I tend to have many hot pots and pans going at the same time and a spoon, spatula or tongs for each one. The small, narrow spoon rest just won’t do! So I started making these large ones that will fit a couple of utensils or an oversizes spatula. And it’s low and wide so it’s stable and won’t get tippy. 

The practical pottery collection has evolved over time to include nicely designed pieces that can be used daily and can happily be left out in your home. They are all on sale for 35% off this week (reg. price is between $14 – $40). 




The details on  the sale:

Emily Murphy’s Pottery Studio Moving Sale!

Friday, April 24, 5pm – 7pm 
Saturday, April 25, 10am – 6pm

at least 35% off all pottery* including already marked down sale! priced items

There will also be bins of $5 and $10 pots.

After 10 years at Lillstreet, Emily’s moving to Minneapolis and doesn’t want to move any of the pots in her studio! Help her raise money for her new soda kiln! 

2nd floor – studio 205 west – Lillstreet Studios
4401 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640

mugs – plates – teapots – vases – pitchers – platters – bowls – bottles – soap dispensers – necklaces – spoon rests – tea bowls – serving trays – tumblers – floor vases – cruets – pasta bowls – wall pieces – tiles

Also for sale

  • art books
  • aprons
  • pottery display items
  • pottery tools 

*unless otherwise marked

for additional information:

Moving Sale: Necklaces

As promised, I am going to highlight different pieces on my blog that I will have for sale this weekend in my Pottery Studio Moving Sale. I’m sorting through my inventory as setting up the sale throughout the week. Last night I set up the display of necklaces. I had to stop myself from keeping too many of them! The necklaces range from $25 – $32 and are marked down 35%. There are also a handful of necklaces that are $10-$15 and those will also be marked down 35%. What a deal!


The photos aren’t great, but it’ll give you a sense of what I have available. I love the punches of color in some of these. I always start craving color during this time of the year. The daffodils are starting to sprout and there are bright green buds on the trees. 


The pendants are made out of stoneware and porcelain and then textured and decorated with slips, glazes and underglazes. Each piece is unique. No two are the same. A hand dyed silk cord is knotting on in a decorative pattern. Some are adjustable with sterling silver toggles. Others have a large lobster clasp. 
pendants-on-displayThe forecast for tonight in Chicago is “chance of snow overnight.” But the forecast for Friday is 80°! If you’re in Chicago, swing by my studio on Friday after work and then maybe find an outdoor cafe to have dinner or a drink at.


The details on  the sale:

Emily Murphy’s Pottery Studio Moving Sale!

Friday, April 24, 5pm – 7pm 
Saturday, April 25, 10am – 6pm

35% off all pottery* including already marked down Sale! priced items

There will also be bins of $5 and $10 pots.

After 10 years at Lillstreet, Emily’s moving to Minneapolis and doesn’t want to move any of the pots in her studio! Help her raise money for her new soda kiln! 

2nd floor – studio 205 west – Lillstreet Studios
4401 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640

mugs – plates – teapots – vases – pitchers – platters – bowls – bottles – soap dispensers – necklaces – spoon rests – tea bowls – serving trays – tumblers – floor vases – cruets – pasta bowls – wall pieces – tiles

Also for sale

    • art books
    • aprons
    • pottery display items

*unless otherwise marked

for additional information:

Studio Moving Sale!

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re going to be leaving Chicago and moving to Minneapolis soon. This also means moving my studio. Since I’ll be building a new kiln, I realized that I wanted to start fresh with a new body of work. I’ve been gathering up work from galleries, clearing off the back of shelves and getting ready to sell out. I’ll be glad to have a few less boxes to move and happy to give people a great deal.  

The sale will be 2 days: Friday, April 24 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm and Saturday, April 25 from 10:00am – 6:00pm at my studio in Chicago

I will have a huge selection of pottery including soap dispensers, floor vases, mugs, teapots, and tumblers, to name a few. I will also have some gorgeous new ceramic and silk necklaces for sale. Throughout the next week I am going to using my blog to highlight some of the pieces that I’ll be selling like these pasta bowls from a shino dinnerware set.


I am also selling stuff from my studio: 

  • aprons (fun vintage ones)
  • stools (short and tall)
  • pottery display stuff (bowl stands, dried grasses, bamboo platforms, place mats and tablecloths) 
  • art books (books on: photographing crafts, business of art, etc…) 
  • tables, shelving, metal rolling carts
  • bats, chucks, various pottery tools

All pots will be marked down at least 35%. Even the pieces that are already on sale will be marked down an additional 35%. And a special bonus will the a bin of $5 pots. Yes, you read that correctly. Those are guaranteed to move quickly! 

Have you been waiting to pick up some plates for yourself? Do you have a wedding to go to this summer? And don’t forget that Mother’s Day is only 3 weeks away! Plan ahead and get some great deals on handmade gifts or something for yourself. 

If you can’t make it on Friday or Saturday and would like to make arrangements to meet before or after, just send me an email and we’ll figure something out.

A new beginning

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting lately. It’s not for lack of want… just a lack of time. Some big changes are in the works. Ian and I just bought a house and we’re moving to Minneapolis!

We were caught off guard by our own decision.  We’ve been in Chicago for 10 years and thought the windy city would be the place that we’d be for a very long time to come. But there were some things that we’ve dreamed of that we just couldn’t see happening in Chicago. I’ve had a vision for years that we’d buy a two flat or a three flat (duplex, triplex depending on where you live). We’d live on one floor, family or friends would live on the other(s) and there would be some shared living space. Of course, a big part of this dream is that I’d have a studio at home and a soda kiln that I can call my own. I’ve been renting studio space and running the soda program at Lillstreet for the last 9 years, but I’ve been aching for my own space for quite a while now. Due to the cost of housing in Chicago, it was feeling like our dreams could not be realized in this city.

Last Thanksgiving we were in Minneapolis visiting Ian’s family (he grew up in Minneapolis). His sister had just bought a house and started putting on some friendly pressure on us to move there. The discussion was fun but I kept dismissing the idea. I’m not really a fan of big change. On the drive home I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment. It occurred to me that if we moved there, we could realize this vision of our future that has been so clear for so many years. When I had the moment of realization that the picture was right but we had the city wrong, the decision was simple. We would have a piece of land to take care of. A place to build a kiln. My sister Nora and her two little boys are moving with us to complete the vision. Nora will be starting a PhD program at the University of Minnesota this fall which has been a part of her dream for years. 



So this is our new home. Ian and I ignored the lack of heat in the middle of January and mint green walls throughout and fell in love with this building. It’s a duplex in the Powderhorn neighborhood in South Minneapolis. (Check out this amazing photo blog of the neighborhood: We’ll live on the 2nd floor, my sister and nephews will be on the first floor. We’ll have guest space and Ian’s office space in the attic and the basement will be my studio and a shared family room. My soda kiln will be built in the backyard. We’re hoping to get the majority of the work done by June so we can move up there and start building out the studio and settling in.

One of the things that we loved about the house was the garage out back (this picture below is a view from the 2nd floor porch). It’s actually a carriage barn from the mid-1800’s that pre-dates the house (which was built in 1927). For now we’ll be just fixing it up, but it has future studio potential. We definitely won’t be using it as a garage- but we have some interesting ideas for this interesting space.


We’re doing a huge amount of demo and construction on the house. New plumbing, new window inserts, new furnaces and hot water heaters. The picture below is of one of the bathrooms. We “discovered” a window in each bathroom that had been hidden by the tub surround!


I love the location of  our house. It’s a block and a half from Powderhorn Park, a huge park that we’ll be spending a lot of time at! We caught the end of a cool Art Sled Festival last month. Minnesotans are not afraid of winter. One of my favorite things about the location of our new house is that it’s only 1/2 block from the Midtown Global Market. The photo below was taken from our front steps. Our block is a dead end so we have a nice quieter street, but it’s close to so much. The market has been an amazing resource throughout this project. Quick access to heat and plumbing during February as well as warm coffee and food has been invaluable! I’ve been using it as an office space during our time up there- using the free wireless and plentiful table space to spend the afternoon making phone calls and writing emails.



If you’re in the Minneapolis area, send me an email and say hello! I can’t wait to start meeting potters up there. Or if you know of any references for builders, carpenters, landscapers, etc… please pass on any info that you have to me! We’re so happy to hire folks to work on the house that we have some sort of connection to. 

I’ll be posting updates on the projects (house, studio and kiln) in the coming months. For now I’m going to attempt to return to my life in Chicago. We’re not actually moving for a couple of months (June maybe?). The renovations have been totally consuming and my studio has been completely neglected. I’m heading to the studio now for the first time in a while. It’s time to start working on some tiles for our new kitchen…

Wow. You have to see this method for moving bricks.

Next time I’m building a kiln and not feeling psyched about moving a lot of brick, I’m going to think about this video:

(if it’s not showing up in your blog reader, make sure you click through to here to see it.)

I’m so blown away by this video. Besides the fact that it’s an unbelievable feat, I also have a thing for bricks (that can’t be very unusual for a potter).

Thanks to Kumar for posting this incredible video to Facebook. You should check out his recipe for Glögg that he posted to his blog. Ian made up a pot of Kumar’s recipe for Christmas Eve. Mmm!

Cooking steel-cut oats in a rice cooker

I started to put this post together about my winter morning ritual of steel-cut oats last night. This morning I was sitting down to eat a bowl full of warm oats and as usual I opened up my blog reader to catch up on the happenings of other potters. I discovered that Keith Kreeger had blogged this morning about his morning bowl of steel-cut oats. What are the odds?

At least now I know that I’m not the only one who loves waking up on a cold winter’s morning to a warm pot of steel-cut oats. Usually that would require someone else getting up early and spend an hour cooking the oats (they take much longer than rolled or quick oats).  That’s just not going to happen at our house. I used to cook a big pot of oats on Sunday afternoon and then reheat it in the mornings. Still too much work.  Then I discovered something great.  You can cook them in a rice cooker, set the timer and wake up to a fresh warm breakfast. Here’s how I do it…

You’ll need:

  • A rice cooker. One with a timer is best.  If you don’t, I think you can still set it up with a plug in timer. I haven’t actually tried this, but I think it’ll work.
  • A rice cooker measuring cup. All rice cookers come with their own measuring cup. Even the $15 ones. They aren’t equivalent to a cup.
  • Steel-cut oats. They’re really cheap if you buy them in bulk. Even from Whole Foods. But you can also get them at a regular grocery store.
  • Cinnamon. I go through a lot of cinnamon in the winter so I buy a big thing from Costco.
  • Salt & water.


The night before, pour 2 cups (the rice cooker kind) of steel-cut oats into the pot of the rice cooker.


Add cinnamon to taste. I like a lot of cinnamon. I don’t ever measure, so I can’t tell you how much. But it’s probably several tablespoons of cinnamon.
Add salt to taste. Every once in a while I will forget to add the salt and you can really tell it’s missing. Mix up the oats, salt and cinnamon well. Cinnamon is a fat soluble spice so it doesn’t mix well in just the water. If you mix it up and sort of coat the oats before adding water, it works best.


Add water up to the 5 cup mark. On  my cooker, that’s as high as I can go. It gives me a thinner consistency but I usually make enough for a  couple of days, and thinner is better if you’re going to reheat. You can play around with the ratio of oats to water and figure out what works for you. I imagine it’s not the same as mine, but you can use it as a starting point.


I then set it to the “porridge” setting and set the timer for the next morning. If you don’t have a porridge setting, I’m sure it’ll work on the default setting. And again, the timer is something that you could set up if it’s not built into your cooker.  The key is that the oats have to soak overnight. You could also set up the cooker and let it sit overnight and then turn it on manually in the morning if you’re not going to eat it first thing after you wake up.

Our rice cooker is kind of a fancy one, but we use it almost daily between steel-cut oats and brown rice for dinner.  You can also make quinoa, your own pilaf and other types of grains. To make quiona, you do the same proportions of quiona to water as you would do rice to water and press start.


In the morning you’ll wake up to a nice pot of oats that only took a couple of minutes of actual prep time! I like to add raisins, but I usually add them directly into my bowl. If you add them too early, they’ll bloat and lose flavor and texture.  And if I have leftovers, I wait until the oats have cooled down before adding raisins and refrigerating the leftovers.

I have two favorite bowls that I always gravitate towards for my morning oats. They’re a bit over sized, but I like how the size and shape prevent any spillage when I carry a bowl from the kitchen to my computer where I eat my breakfast while reading through everyone’s latest blog posts. What’s your morning ritual?

pottery-bowls-for-oatmealAny guesses on who made these pieces? (There are 2 different makers.) If you’re the maker, it’s ok to guess yourself… oh wait, was that a hint for one of them? I’ll give people some time to guess before revealing the makers in a day or so. Start guessing!