Monthly Archives: November 2014

3-D Tetris

Until very recently in my capacity as a potter all I did was make pots. Well, of course, there’s a lot more to it. There’s a slew of studio tasks and chores that are critical to being able to make pots, chores that most hobbyist potters never have to think about. Case in point: loading the kiln.

This weekend was my first full kiln. Here are a couple of the layers:


You can see, I’m building the layers of shelves and pots around the tall pitchers, trying to utilize as much space as possible. Those cups on the right are on their own tiny shelf fragment, with extra space around the heat element. One of the bigggest challenges of this load was that there wasn’t much range of sizes. I had gaps that were big enough to fit a small piece, but no small pieces to fill the gaps.

Firing the kiln is expensive, so you always want to optimize space and pack stuff in as much as possible. However, when maximizing space you have to also… keep similar glazes together, use the same kind of stilts for similar pieces, leave enough room for the kiln furniture, leave extra space around the device that measures kiln temperature. And always make sure you leave enough room for the shelf above to clear your pieces. Every time it’s a fun challenge that has me holding my breath a lot, a 3-d puzzle, a real life game of 3-d Tetris.

Series Number 2

In addition to the orchid pots, I am working on a series of soap dishes/bathroom sets. I want to make very unique items, characterized by delicate details and clean execution, but still highly functional. Much like with the orchid pots, the first set of soap dishes was a trial and there is definitely some error. For example, the leaf soap dish, though I love how it looks, doesn’t have a stable base. And the others are good for showers, but not great for a sink, because there’s nothing to catch the soapy water.

Meet soap dishes 2.0, designed to be displayed on a sink and some will have a matching cup for Q-tips:


Soap dish for sink usage and matching tiny cup for q-tips or other small stuff


Soap dish for sink usage with removable piece that keeps water out of the soap

I might make more the shower soap dishes if people like/want them, and I created a couple of tiny cups for miscellaneous bathroom needs:

Photo Nov 20, 10 18 50 PM IMG_2036[1]


Let me know what you guys think.

P.S. I know I usually post on Thursday mornings, but yesterday was thanksgiving and I had to get into the studio for a couple of hours before stuffing my face with food. So the post got delayed. Sorry about that.

Stuff Coming Soon

Good morning, friends,

I have a confession to make…

The last 2 weeks have been really hectic and my pottery time was drastically cut down. So unfortunately I don’t have anything really cool to share with you today. There are lots of loose ends at the moment in my pottery life:

  1. The orchid pots are half done
  2. I’m almost done with my second special order cup (it was one from the mug experiment, but the glaze didn’t come out, so it had to be re-done, but it’s finally finished and waiting to be glaze fired.)
  3. There are a couple of lava inspired bowls waiting to be fired. I am excited to share them here, but they are not ready yet.
  4. One of the lace pots lost a foot and then crumbled to bits. I am not sure whether to make another one or see if the remaining one makes it through firing first. What do you think?Make another one or wait until I’m sure that it can survive the firings?

Here’s a picture of what happened to the lace pot:

Photo Nov 16, 5 13 47 PM


And that also kind of conveys how I feel – a little scattered. 🙂

Anyway, thanks for reading and I’ll be back with something more exciting next week.

Business Plan

After a couple of years of not doing ceramics I was having recurring nagging thoughts like “I should find a studio,” “I should do pottery again, I used to enjoy it so much.” I finally found a joined a studio, Creative ClaythingsThat was 6 months ago. I feel that now, 6 months later, I have adjusted to the different clay and glazes and it’s time to start thinking about what to do with the mercilessly growing pile of ceramics on my dinner table.

Photo Nov 16, 11 57 03 PM

It’s clear to me that the time to take a chance is drawing near. I need to refine a set of items that I would be proud to release into the wild, and to start an Etsy store.

My first official series will be orchid pots. (Unless they all have S-cracks. Then I will have to re-think it.)  I took the design that I experimented with and made 5 more brand new pots with thoroughly compressed bottoms. They will all be white with bright colored carved flowers and geometric patterns.  Unlike the first set, I am taking  extra extra time and care to clean up the carvings. I think that part of having pieces that I can be truly proud of requires that the execution is extremely clean. There can’t be any dents, uneven lines, or blotchy spots. They don’t look like much now (all gray and the flowers are only sketched on) but after 5 hours of carving and cleaning on Sunday I am pleased with my progress and look forward to sharing them with you soon.

    In the meantime, I have a question for you guys:

  • If my pottery was in an Etsy store, which piece(s) would you consider purchasing for yourself or as a gift?
  • If none, would you mind telling me why not?

Trouble With Fall

Trouble with fall is… it’s dark. It’s dark all the time. The day feels like it ends before it really had a chance to be a day. It’s just depressing. This year in Chicago we didn’t have much time to enjoy fall colors. Our fall colors were gray and bleak. Funny how in Hawaii gray is dramatic, whereas here it’s just bleak. Maybe it’s the lack of palm trees.

Anyway, I can’t complain for a whole post, can I. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of beautiful happy fall I updated my collection of fall-themed glaze colors.  I am not totally sure what I’m going to do with them yet (maybe I’ll have it figured by next fall ha-ha) but here they are:

Photo Nov 03, 5 29 52 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 29 59 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 30 07 PM

Left to right: Indian Summer, Autumn, and Burnt sugar.

I also noticed something cool about Fireluster. I put it on one of my soap dishes expecting a rusty color, and noticed that where it’s really thick it looks more glassy and like a deep beautiful red…

Photo Nov 07, 8 01 07 AM

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. Just gotta keep fighting through the rest of fall and winter.

What do you do in the fall to stay motivated when it gets dark and gloomy?

Clay Lace

Last Friday i walked into the studio after work with a strong feeling that I need to make something, but no ideas what to make. One way or another I decided to try out a mold I had made for myself and make a clay lace pot. I’d seen some on Pinterest and had tried building them free-form before, but they fell apart. Armed with the mold, though, it was worth a shot.  I made one on Friday night and another on Sunday.

The first one was asymmetrical, pay it by ear kind of deal. For the second one I measured out the coils to be the same length and made it symmetrical. Here they are on the mold before I put feet on them:

Photo Nov 07, 5 15 56 PMPhoto Nov 09, 4 22 12 PM

And here they are with feet, off the mold:

Photo Nov 07, 6 01 24 PMPhoto Nov 09, 5 42 41 PM

They are drying now and I’m not sure when they will get fired, but I hope they make it.

Which one do you like better and why?

Orchid Pot Update

Sometimes (usually) it takes me a while to take a project from idea to completion. Partly that’s because the whole process takes a while and partly it’s because I get new ideas all the time and it’s so easy to get distracted.  This post is about a project that I actually took from sketch to completion!  It’s about my orchid pots.

You can see the sketches in my previous post, here. And here, in this post, are the completed pots. I did 2 colors inside: Tearose and Caribbean Blue, 2 colors outside: black and white, and 2 designs: flowers and curly clouds. Here they are on their own with flattering lighting and with orchids in them:

I ran into a several challenges with these pots…

  1. Translucent colors + black opaques turned green and it doesn’t look great. I don’t mean in general. In general that’s a very nice effect. But in this case, it looks like poor execution.
  2. Carving the clouds was very tricky and the overhanging parts kept breaking off. Each pot has at least one cloud piece that fell off. By comparison, the flowers held up very well. Also with the flowers I painted part of the outside with the accent color and I like how that looks.
  3. S-cracks on the large pots. This one’s a little baffling because I think they were properly constructed. I asked 3 or 4 people for a second opinion and they said, “maybe you dried them too fast?” Yeah, maybe. The S-cracks for your second opinion:
    IMG_1950[1] IMG_1949[1]

Overall it was a fun project. A great iteration 1 for pots that I can make for people in the future. So I’ll keep working on making these guys not crack and possibly switch to making them out of slab instead of wheel-thrown.

If you think you know what’s up with the S-cracks, please, PLEASE let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!