Tag Archives: tea

Gift Guide for Emily Murphy Pottery

I love giving gifts! I love trying to figure out the perfect gift for someone.  It has to be unique, thoughtful and personal.  Sometimes I get a little stuck and I find that looking at online “gift guides” will help give me a spark of an idea! I’ve been doing most of my Christmas shopping on Etsy and at craft fairs.  Etsy’s gift guides are a great starting point if you’re looking for inspiration.  I thought I’d make my own gift guide for my Etsy Shop to help you out!

Don’t forget that your whole purchase is 20% off (except custom orders) in my Etsy Shop using coupon code JINGLE through December 18th, 2013.  Plus $5 shipping/ address.

For the gardener:
Pair one of my vintage seed packet mugs with a pair of gardening gloves or your favorite gardening book for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life!  I love reading gardening books in the middle of winter… dreaming of digging into the dirt, while drinking a toasty cup of tea.Vintage Seed Packet Mugs Emily Murphy Pottery

For the cook:
Looking for something for someone who love to cook? A little dish / spoon rest  and a handmade wooden spoon would be something that would be used all the time! Look on Etsy for a wooden spoon (like this one) or a local gourmet kitchen shop for one.
Spoon rest small dish

For the locavore:
Do you have a locavore that you love? Pair one of my handmade porcelain honey pots along with some local honey for a sweet gift! You can look on Etsy for local honey (search for your state plus honey). Or if you have a gourmet shop or food co-op, you’ll find several choices there!  honey pots, travel mugs and soap dispensers7

For the kids:
Kids love having something that is just for them… and just their size! Start them off early loving and appreciating handmade pottery!  Package it with some tasty hot cocoa (from Etsy or a local food shop) and maybe some amazing homemade marshmallows (from Etsy or make your own!)

Etsy kid mugs

For the kid at heart:
Nostagia in a cup! These are grown-up (or big kid!) sized mugs that have the same imagery of the kid sized mugs. You can do the cocoa and marshmallow pairing like above! Or of course, you could always pair it with coffee for the grown-up recipient!

Big wheel and tricycle mugs emily murphy pottery

For the tea lover:
A unique porcelain mug, a tea infuser and some loose tea would make any tea lover full of warmth! Etsy has some wonderful tea infusers. And an amazing selection of teas, like this sampler! And of course, you can find both at a gourmet kitchen or food shop, or at most coffee shops.

Handmade porcelain mugs emily murphy pottery

For the hostess with the mostess:
For someone who loves to entertain, something that is both practical and beautiful is perfect.  These berry bowls are totally practical – you can wash your berries (or grapes…) in them, and then serve directly from the dish! You could even give the colander full of some colorful berries at a holiday party for a one of a kind hostess gift! handmade porcelain berry bowl colander emily murphy pottery

For the mom or dad:
I mentioned this in a previous post, these foaming soap dispensers are fantastic for kids! And as a parent, you really want more beauty in your home and less plastic in your life, but it can feel like a losing battle! The foam is great for really getting soap everywhere you need it to be without messy drips.  I wrote a blog post with suggestions on where to buy and how to make your own foaming soap!

handmade foaming soap dispenser emily murphy pottery

For the new homeowner / apartment dweller:
Do you know someone who recently moved into a new house or maybe their first apartment? Get them a couple of matching plates or mugs for make it feel even homier! 

Emily Murphy Porcelain pottery

For the coffee lover:
Of course the obvious choice for someone who loves coffee is to give them a mug.  But these handmade porcelain travel mugs are even better than the standard mug! They can be used with or without the lid.  The lid is great to use at home if you like to keep your drink piping hot.  Or if you have kids or pets that might knock over your hot coffee next to your computer (yikes!).  And it also works as a travel mug ;). Pick up some coffee from your favorite roaster.  Etsy has a ton of roasted coffee bean options! handmade porcelain travel mug with silicone lid emily murphy pottery

For the person who has everything:
And then there is always the person who has everything that you can’t figure out what to get for them.  A beautiful porcelain oil lamp would be a wonderful gift. It’s unique, practical (we always light ours when the power goes out!) and is small enough to not worry about where they will put it! Plus, it’s more interesting and than another gift of a candle.  And can be used as a small bud vase too.  Complete the gift by giving it with a bottle of lamp oil. You can purchase smokeless paraffin lamp oil at most hardware, grocery and big box stores. You can also purchase it online, including through Amazon. There are many brands, you just want to look for 99% pure paraffin; sootless, smokeless, odorless. It’s quite easy to find!

handmade porcelain oil lamp

I hope my little gift guide gave you some ideas for some of the folks on your holiday shopping list!  And if you buy something from my Etsy Shop, don’t forget to use the coupon code: JINGLE to get 20% off your purchase through December 18th, 2013!

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.