First Draft

At the risk of a crack team of librarians rappelling down from helicopters and confiscating my library card for daring to bring some of their books into a clay studio…

Two first drafts of the viking pottery. #1 says “I, Maaike, fashioned these runes” which is a properly historic thing for it to say. #2 has some black slip, to make the design stand out a little more, and a pattern from a brooch that I really liked. (It also took foreeeeeever to carve out, so if that’s what the client goes for my asking price may have to go higher than the original estimate.)

(PS: To any librarians reading: I promise to copy the last bits of info I’ll need and return the books without bringing them anywhere near the studio ever again. Please don’t hurt me.)

Viking project thoughts

1. Although knotwork and interlace designs appear throughout medieval Europe during (and before, and slightly after) the Viking age, they have been heavily marketed in the last few decades as Celtic. It is difficult to find designs that the average non-medievalist will associate with Vikings instead of Celts.

2. Even designs that occur first or primarily in Scandinavia can still be found in Celtic art, thanks to Vikings going out and conquering places.

3. The ones that are definitely, totally, NOT found in any Celtic art I’ve come across just look Greek, FFS.

4. Runes and twisty animals are totally the way to go, here. Knotwork, while having the benefit of being regular and therefore easier to carve once you get the hang of it, just ain’t distinctive enough.


Got an e-mail from someone the other day with a gallery in L’anse-aux-meadows, wondering if I could make some “Viking-themed” pottery. I told her I’d have a think about it, and get back to her in a week or two.

I’ve got a couple of ideas, mostly to do with bands of heavy surface decoration. Simpler versions of the “bird with neck going through hole in wing, biting another bird’s foot, which has a dog’s head for an arse” theme you find in medieval Scandinavia. Probably a very plain colour scheme, to make the surface carving the most eye-catching thing… The big stumbling block would be figuring out how to do something like that in a cost-effective way.



I tried out a cephalopot bowl design.



It was thrown from one pound, so will end up more dessert bowl size than cereal/soup size. Or maybe it’ll be a good rice bowl. Whatever.

I like the stubby chubbiness of the tentacles, and the shape of the bowl itself is a nice, elegant, easy-to-scale-up shape, so sets can happen. Overall, I’m quite pleased with it.

I realized after it was done that if I’d made the tentacles bigger, or if they curled differently, they could hold your fork or chopsticks for you. Will have to remember this in future incarnations…


Open Studio tonight was fun. I glazed some things from kids’ workshops, checked how much of each glaze we have left (enough, so I didn’t have to mix more this week), and then spent most of the evening playing with my own stuff.

We have reclaim again, so I threw a half dozen proto-cephalopot mugs… I’ve decided they need to be round, maybe even bulbous. We’ll see how well they work as tea-dispensers before making more…

I also made some dessert/snack plates, because we don’t have enough for D&D nights, and it’s kind of silly for a potter to not have enough plates. (No *matching* plates, okay… prototypes have to be put to use somewhere… but a lack of plates? Psha.)


I’m on a cthonic spree today. I’ve been doodling mugs with tentacle handles, and jars with octopussies for knobs… There may be a product line at the end of all this, or there may not. We’ll see. I think I’ll make a few testers on Friday, just to get a more concrete feel for the ideas. I need to work out the bottoms[1], but I have the general shapes decided on.

I have an idea for a glaze I could use, too. It’s a recipe that’s been kicking around the studio for yonks, and I’ve always had good results when I’ve used it. It’s a satin matte blue, that turns glossy (but still blue) when it breaks. If I take out the cobalt, and maybe fiddle around a little, it should be a great matte white or cream, and would look good over the textured parts of the tentacles.

[1] To trim or not to trim–that is the question. And if yes, what shape to trim.

EDIT: Oh yeah. No clay.

Well, bum.

Maybe there’ll be some reclaim mixed up by then…

Potential submission



Porcelain, thrown and altered. I’m thinking a clear glaze, and “Cupped” or “hands of the Maker” for a title. I like the pun potential of “Cupped”, but they’re going to be more the size of small bowls, so maybe the other would be a better option.

I’d also like to try out a pair of eyeglasses (again, clear glaze over thrown and altered porcelain), if I can get the eyelashes to work. They’ll be round drinking glasses, but when you look inside there’ll be an inverted eyeball staring back out. Geddit? Eh? Eh?

We’ll see how it goes.

Mugs 2.0


Second round of mugs. I know what I’m aiming for this time, but getting the height was kinda tricky. The shortest and tallest ones in the picture were the first and last mugs I threw the other day… The shortest was the first attempt (same height as the first batch o’ mugs), and the tallest (which is the height I was aiming for) was the last. Now that I know for sure I can actually do it with that amount of clay, I can get working on consistency.


Back into production now. Yesterday I made some mug bodies; today I trimmed them, attached handles, and inlaid the designs.[1] I hadn’t done tall mugs yet–at least, not as part of a product line–so these ones are all a little different. I think I’ve worked out which height:diameter ratio I like best, though, and what kind of footring they look best with, so the next batch will be a lot more uniform.

The most matchy ones from today will end up in the CCNL shop; the others will probably be sold as one-offs on etsy. (Note to self: Sign up for etsy shop. Stock shop. Sell stuff.)

[1] I have a dinnerware line of black stoneware inlaid with white stoneware. It’s slightly unimaginatively called “Bug”, since all the designs are of insects. Mostly dragonflies, bees, and spiders, but now and then I’ll put out a snail or a centipede. It’s mostly a matter of whimsy.