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Her Name Is Mud Ceramic Studio Tour

Her Name Is Mud Ceramic Studio Tour

A safe place for creative refuge and reflection

I remember sitting in an art history class in 2007 and hearing a line from Virgina Woolf  "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" Woolf 1935, p.5 A Room Of One’s Own 

I’ve thought about these words often particularly when getting ready to call a new place home.

I recently learned while reading How They Decorated, Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century by P. Gaye Tapp that is was Madame De Pompadour who wanted a place for privacy without the display and intrigue of Louis XV’s court life. This was the beginning of a place that was designed for seclusion, independence, personal amusement and respite. This was the beginning of a woman’s independence in defining a space at home that was reserved for creative expression and a narrative of personal taste. 

I have always found value in having a little space of my own from the time I began my creative career, beginning with a small desk in art school that housed my ceramic ambitions and the work for my BFA. During these years I was newly married and I had claimed the closet in the  second bedroom of our apartment. I pinned inspiration on the walls, burned screen prints in the dark closet with a single bulb and reclaimed the screens in our bath tub.  I have always had a little parcel to call my own even if it was just a little table wherever I have called home, and that has brought a particular kind of refuge.

When my husband and I hoped for a fourth child we had to seriously consider the space we had at our home since I choose to have my studio space at home while my children are little. It became clear that there wouldn’t be room for both a growing family and a growing business at our current home. I looked at my blush penny tiled studio of 3 years and knew it was time to move on. I don’t know if I properly had time to thank that room for all that it was to me. For the growth and exploration it allowed me to have as an artist, I made and learned a lot of beautiful things there often in the early morning hours or while I watched the tree outside my window dance and cast dappled light on my work tables.

When it became time to work out the new studio space I considered the pain points of my previous studio (as in “what a serious pain in the rump that was, we have to figure out a new way!”) but also who I am now as an established artist. The house we bought was being renovated and I had to make some rushed decisions before we had the baby, decisions that would later be changed as I considered how I actually wanted my space to feel. At one point I considered lively wallpaper but knew that I would probably grow tired of the pattern and wished to make a canvas that could be adapted easily for the whims of new work. So I stripped everything back and know it will fill itself with time. 

Here are a few “before” photos, the previous owners left this furniture for me wasn’t that nice ( insert eye roll) 

this is the corner where the cabinets will go

featuring the purple ceiling and furniture so disgusting I wouldn’t let my kids sit on it. 

Work We Did To Renovate The Space of the New Studio on Adobe Street :

-Walls were smoothed to fix wall paper removal seams

-Sconces were removed and the wall was patched because this space had been a formal dining room

-We changed out the light fixture with this one that I purchased for my other studio but when it became clear we would be moving I saved it for this new one.

-The walls were painted Alabaster by Sherwin Williams, the tray ceiling had been purple and with it now painted white I adore this feature.

-The trim was painted Roman Plaster by Behr

-We cut a space for a door and moved the electrical work so I could to go directly out to the kiln yard and garage storage space from my studio. 

-We trenched 80 feet in the front yard to run electrical for my kilns (of course the electric box was on the other side of the house!)

-We installed cabinetry and a stone countertop which were originally going to be painted Lichen by Farrow and Ball but then because of a paint shortage and the painter’s shortened time constraints, I changed the cabinet color to Escape Gray by Sherwin Williams which wasn't gray at all but more of a celadon green color which was lovely in theory but began the color and light troubles. It just didn’t feel right.  

the white cabinets before they were painted 

painted escape gray (which I think we can agree is celadon)

Painted Escape Gray by Sherwin Williams (which I think we can all agree is very much a celadon green, very ceramics nerd of me to accidentally choose that!) 

-I considered built in drying racks in the angled cove area but decided to wait until I had worked there to see how the flow went and I’m glad I did. That space is now one of my favorite corners. 


 First Priorities:

-My three work tables which fit PER-FECT-LY under the windows which are optimal for photo taking and documenting my days. My studio faces North and that light is just *chef’s kiss*

-I felt overwhelmed with decisions I had to make in a short amount of time especially since we were doing the main renovations in the studio along with the rest of the house so I opted for a blank inspired canvas that I could begin adding personality and memories to. 

-Light and color a place for my creativity to be bold

-Optimized storage in the drawers and cabinets by using these clear organizing bins in different sizes, my studio is larger than my other one plus I have two of the garage bays but the storage situation wasn't as efficient so I worked on a solution

-I wanted a space for packing and finishing pieces which was a huge problem for us as the other studio

-Hardware is like the jewelry of a room, I thought my selections would add some personality but they had to be changed when it became clear the quality wasn’t great and the handles kept breaking! bad news was they had already drilled the holes!

The Overarching Feeling I Hoped For:

One morning when I was up early with my baby I came into the front room to see this golden glow coming from the sun through the windows and I knew that  is how I wanted this studio to feel, like a golden glow radiating from the work that I made here. A comfortable confidence. Golden Hour always. It feels like a studio that has grown up, settled into itself and knows what it needs to make beauty. A resonating spirit of creativity. We can only be who we are and I find this idea by Beata Heuman an award winning British interior designer to be just the words I needed :

“It can be pretty irresistible when you see the unabashed, true character of another individual. It may be very different from yours, but it is all the more alluring for it. Therein lies the secret of any work of art that touches me, books that make me think, rooms that linger in my mind, and people whose spirit intrigues me.It resonates, but is at the same time something so innately other from yourself; and the only way to fully experience it is to spend time with that person or thing.” Beata Heuman p. 9,  Every Room Should Sing

I knew the cabinets needed to be repainted as annoying as that was and it turns out, I needed to order new hardware, less pretentious- maybe? The green cabinets were a color I loved on its own (I even made a custom tinted clay this exact color a couple of years ago, that's how much I like it!) and in theory if you start with something beautiful shouldn't it all work out? One of the main problems was the green paint reflected a kind of sickly, cold green light all hours of the day and I kept trying to make it work but when I would come into the studio every time it just didn't feel right. I kept saying I can't work in there with that light and I didn’t have any motivation to keep unpacking and begin designing a collection!

My husband and I bought a paint sprayer and repainted the cabinets, perhaps laughing and swearing in equal amounts because an artist and a man who has worked in construction, property management, and real estate should be able to handle a little DIY painting project but newborn life mixed with a general attitude of : “we hate this and we should have called Primo who could have painted these in two hours” made sure the “little” project lasted about a week!

The perfectly golden ochre paint I chose was India Yellow by Farrow and Ball. Does my color choice surprise you?!

There is now a joy I feel when I walk into the studio, I am met with something that feels like an unabashed introduction to Krista. 

Pieces I repurposed and pieces I purchased:

I purchased this cerused oak table and two sculptural chairs, at my other studio it was a major growing pain to have to pack orders in my kitchen. It took over everything [particularly around the holidays so this table is meant for packing orders, finishing things like assembling my ceramic paint brushes, admin work, working through designs and translating sketchbook inspiration, my studio manager Maylee and I have Monday meetings here and sometimes lunch together here. 

I wanted a curio cabinet but haven't been able to find a vintage one I loved quite yet and fits in this space, but I needed something to hold some larger tools like my hand held clay extruder and work bowls that didn't fit in the cabinets so I repainted a dresser that I have used in three of my four childrens’ rooms. The color is Pitch Black by Farrow and Ball, I hoped it modernized the space a bit and anchored this corner, I love what black accents do for a room. 

I purchased this bakery cart and it's amazing. I wheel it to the door and have a shorter distance to go to the kilns with fragile things. It also fits my workboards that I use for workshops so I didn't have to get anything extra. It also has what I call a  jacket so I can drape the plastic jacket over it to help things dry more slowly and evenly. I have another drying rack in the garage and a few more shelves if I need some overflow space with larger projects. 

The floors. I did NOT want these tumbled travertine stone tiles in my studio but was going to cost around $12,000 to $15,000 to replace with the labor to demo the stone, grind and level the floor again, purchase the new product, and install the new floor tiles. I knew I was going to be going on maternity leave and it just didn't seem like a wise or necessary investment at the time. So I made do, I changed my perception of them. I habitually thought about them in a beautiful way even if they weren’t what I would have selected and this beautiful thing started to happen…I actually kind of really like the floors now. They give my studio this earthen, English sort of vibe. I love natural elements like wood and stone and ceramic in a space and they have a really good feeling about them. I tried to adjust the other design elements to compliment them and I think once the cabinets were a warmer yellow, and a few modern touches they really began to sing!!! The stone + clay also means there are more petrichor scentings which I find a comforting smell. How we think about our space matters and I learned a valuable lesson that gratitude for what we have brings an incredible mindset to our lives. 

Projects to come:

I do not have a sink in my studio. I don't mind one not being in my space because they can be stinky, much like a pond would smell because clay sometimes sits in there until you get around to cleaning them out ( washing clay down your sink will cause havoc on your drains and pipes!!) I use work bowls and then wash them out with a hose in my yard or plug my utility sink in the laundry room and clean things and then after clay sediment settles I clean the clay out of the sink. 

I am meeting with a plumber to talk about the possibility of having a special sink installed in the garage. We would have to cut into the concrete and also figure out the drain situation but it's something I would like to save for and figure out because I think it would help with our efficiency and work flow. 

TILES!! I am going to be making them for the backsplash in between the cabinetry once we begin the O’Keeffe Collection again at the end of May because I will be using that clay body for the tiles. I’m currently working in porcelain and those two clays aren’t to be mixed so I’ll finish up my porcelain work and then prepare for tile making and be sure to document the process. I designed these tubular tiles that will add some lovely texture to that area. 

-In time, and most likely after my children have grown to more independent ages I would like to figure out a way or a space that is more community oriented . A place for teaching.For gathering. For hosting brunches, lunches, and dinners. For listening to music loudly while we talk on nights I open the studio for friends and stimulating conversations. A place more like a salon in Paris during the 20’s.  Someday. I’m saving for it and speaking it into existence. 

All rooms ought to look as if they were lived in, and to have so to say, a friendly welcome ready for the incomer.

William Morris


Elements I recommend for making a studio space full of personality and usefulness 

(because I would not claim to be so bold as to tell another artist what to put in their space to reflect their own creative spirit but these few things have seemed to make appearances in each of my creative spaces)

  • My sister once told me that I am very good at finding beautiful things to hide the mess, I was flattered and have leaned into that. Collect jars, baskets, wall organizers that are both lovely and useful for holding and displaying studio materials and tools 

  • A visual reminder of your “why” or perhaps your goals. I keep a photo of me and my kids in the studio together (although I need to update this with baby Harrison)

  • A wall calendar, Maylee and I add to this and go over our calendar each month. We add things like “Maylee out of town” or “fire the workshop pieces” ; it helps us work in an orchestrated way even though clay can sometimes be unpredictable, communicate with each other, and meet deadlines. I also have a desk calendar pad we assign weekly tasks on so we can split up the things that need our energies and attention, each one better suited to our skill sets and natural inclinations. We visualize our goals and work backwards with small daily tasks to achieve them.

  • Something made by an inspiring friend. Keep your friends with whom you hold a creative kinship very close. It’s very endearing to walk by something made by a friend and say “Hello Nadine!” and send them loving thoughts. 

  • Something made by you maybe even from a different era to see how far you’ve come as an artist. Celebrate your progress and journey as an artist. Make and keep things just for you. 

  • Something green to tend to and add vibrancy and life to your space, plants are friends. 

  • A signature scent I love these room sprays by PF Candle Co for instant scent transportation but my signature scent I burn in the studio is armitage street by Wax Buffalo

I leave you with this my friends to consider as you design your own spaces whether for the time being that is in a closet in your spare bedroom or you are building the creative space of your dreamS, I edited the John O’Donohue blessing for a home with bracketed words so you may consider these words for your own creative space. 



May this house [ INSERT CREATIVE SPACE HERE ] shelter your life.

When you come home [WORK]  here,

May all the weight of the world

Fall from your shoulders.

May your heart be tranquil here,

Blessed by peace the world cannot give.

May this home [STUDIO]  be a lucky place,

Where the graces your life desires

Always find the pathway to your door.

May nothing destructive

Ever cross your threshold.

May this be a safe place

Full of understanding and acceptance,

Where you can be as you are,

Without the need of any mask

Of pretense or image.

May this home be a place of discovery,

Where the possibilities that sleep

In the clay of your soul can emerge

To deepen and refine your vision

For all that is yet to come to birth.

May it be a house [PLACE] of courage,

Where healing and growth are loved,

Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;

A home [SPACE] where patience of spirit is prized,

And the sight of the destination is never lost

Though the journey be difficult and slow.

May there be great delight around this hearth.

May it be a house [REFUGE] of welcome

For the broken and diminished.

May you have the eyes to see

That no visitor arrives without a gift

And no guest leaves without a blessing.

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Tips For Teaching A Ceramic Workshop

Tips For Teaching A Ceramic Workshop
It's hard to resist clay isn't it?! There is something about that squish in your hand, the grounding of your senses that happens with you handle a material from the Earth, and the beautiful mess it makes that appeals to so many. Let's not forget the fact that your creation is something that will be able to be used and enjoyed long past the day its made! There is a tricky part to ceramics though, while accessible in nature it is not as accessible when it comes to the equipment and tools needed to finish your pieces, therefore limiting the ways one can experience this grounding medium.
Teaching ceramic workshops is a way for you to be a part of your local creative community, provide a different stream of revenue for your business, and gift a creative experience that so many are in search for but lack the studio set up necessary to complete ceramic work.

Let's work through some logistics and preparations that will empower you to design a workshop of your own.


I have 18-30 sets of common tools like exact knives, sponges, loop tools, clay cutters and ribs that can be rearranged in kits to suit any direction the workshop is going. Ornament workshop? Spoon making workshop? Hand building a mug? We need these same tools for each of these.  

After each each workshop tools I wash and dry the tools and then store them in lidded bins in my studio storage. I don't mix them in with my personal tools so I know when I go to teach the next workshop I can "shop" for the right set of tools and reassemble what we need from my kits.  



I hope you have included pricing for your tools and material in your workshop price, If not is it easy to take chunks out of your profits as you prepare for a workshop. For several workshops when I was just beginning, I budgeted a little bit from each one to be used to improve my tool kits. For my first workshop I knew I needed transportable workboards so I bought MDF work boards we cut into 12x18 boards at the home improvement store.  The next workshop I ordered many of the little tools like paint brushes, sponges and the next time I got matching work bowls. Little by little you will build a collection of tools that will enable you to provide a unique creating experience. 
There are some tools that either I made for a specific purpose or are expensive like rolling pins, high quality shape cutters,  or scissors that I choose to buy a smaller amount of and have then be communal tools we can all share from as we work.
My guests do not keep their tools, ceramic tools aren't very useful outside of a studio setting instead I give them a gift and a few special elements which I share more about later. 






 Making name tags is a nice little touch that isn't necessary but I will tell you a few reasons why this has become one of my top tips for hosting a ceramic workshop. 
1- I mean how special will your attendees feel to see a spot intended just for them?!
2- It helps you get on a first name basis, its always nice to be able to offer personal instruction and call them by their name.
3- You will most likely be working with creative people, people to whom color and texture matter and I use the clay they are working with to give them an idea of what they are creating with and how it will look transformed and fired.
4- Making name tags helps with organization and clarity. When I load their pieces into the kiln I load these name tags in with their pieces to help ensure the right work gets back to the right person.When returning their pieces either by mail or local pick up these tags also help keep the pieces organized and help the right pieces get back to the right person.

5- Bringing a sample of their glaze choices on the clay body you are using is also a helpful visual for your workshop students.




We have to do a bit of clever planning and a bit of the dirty work here in these beginning stages. I find it can be a bit overwhelming if you don't have some creative boundaries surrounding the ceramic project you designed for the workshop. I have found it to be a more accessible experience especially for beginners working in clay if you are able to simplify and be very clear about the project, your demo process, and the quantities they are able to make.
For instance if you are hosting an ornament making workshop you would prepare the same size slab for everyone and say that everyone is going to be able to design and create 6 ornaments and from the extra pieces they could make beads or something extra for their ornaments but if you don't set those boundaries then someone could use their slab to create 18 little ornaments as opposed to the 6 they paid for.  Now you have increased your work load and the time it will take you to clean and glaze each piece as well as the additional material you will need to take into account for finishing the extra pieces like silk ribbons, which wouldn't have been included in the initial price of the workshop.
I usually try to keep the active teaching part of the workshop to be around two hours so sometimes that means I roll and prepare slabs or cut out patterns for them to use beforehand so my attendees have as much time as possible to create in our time together. 
Spoons and Scoops
Jewelry and Beads
Watercolor Palettes
Hand built Mugs
Geometric wall hangings 
Mini dishes 
Charcuterie boards



I ordered boxes that serve as containers for their individual tool sets on the way to the workshop and on the way back to the studio they act as the transportation protection and also a means to keep their work separated from the rest of their workshop mates.




 Will you arrange for pick up at your studio? How about meet back at the place where you had the workshop? Is mailing an option? I have preferred mail for most things in part because many times I have people from out of town who attend the workshop. If you are able to make a piece before the workshop this will give you a good idea how much the piece and its packing material can weigh if you were to add the shipping material to the price of the workshop. 



I always like to imagine ways to make a workshop feel extra special. In my studio I keep a box of bits and bobs, beads and geometric shapes, left over silk ribbon from other projects. I sometimes begin here when thinking of ways to make a little magic. For my most recent workshop almost all of the attendees were from out of town and I wanted them to experience a piece of the desert in the spring, I did a little foraging in my yard and clipped branches from my orange tree that had blossoms in full bloom.  When they opened their tool boxes, the most delightful smell greeted them, a few women even rolled the blossoms into their clay to leave an imprint. For holiday workshops I have dried grapefruits for a bit of festiveness, just a few little details make the workshop feel magical.


In gratitude I like to give a little gift to those who made the arrangements to be with me at the workshop that day. I usually use this as an opportunity to introduce everyone to a new artist or small business. 

 My friend Erika Lenaye made prints of her artwork for my guests and they were so loved. 


Workshops are a huge expenditure of energy in the preparations and the setup and clean up. I have always asked a friend or my studio assistant to help me, this frees me up to save my energy for the teaching and the interacting with my guests.  If I am planning on having any refreshments I usually ask a friend who owns a catering business to help me and my friends who are florists to bring some of that petal energy. This past workshop we had to carry 25 pounds of clay over and over up two flights of stairs and we were laughing about how sore we were going to be the next day. 
There is the number of guests to consider, how many do you believe you can be an attentive teacher to? How many is too many to order supplies for? How much extra work can you take on at the moment? Would it be helpful if you were able to set up the venue and do back to back workshop dates so you could still have 30 workshop attendees but 15 on Friday and 15 on Saturday? I think the golden number is somewhere in-between 18-22 any less and the numbers don't work out in your favor for the investment of time and energy and any more and it become difficult to command that room and offer helpful instructions to each guest. It can be done but you will have to be extra prepared.

Another idea if you'd like a larger workshop but are feeling overwhelmed at the idea is to ask another creative friend to run a workshop with you. For instance I taught a holiday ornament making workshop and I felt overwhelmed at teaching a larger group at the time but the interest in the class was so great that I collaborated with my friend who was a florist and she taught half of the class to make wreaths and I taught half of the to make ornaments and then we switched and she taught the people who had just been creating ornaments and I taught those who had just finished their wreaths. Each person left with a wreath and I finished their ornaments a couple weeks later and shipped them.



I dream of having a workshop outside, in a grove with lights strung overhead. I've run into some logistical issues with this dream, let me share some of the questions I work through when visiting the space in preparation for a workshop:
Have you been able to visit the space? Are you indoors or outdoors? What's the weather going to be? What are you thoughts about the lay out? How's the light? Is the space inspiring and will entice others to share on their social media accounts, improving the chances that you will get to host another workshop with the help of your workshop friends sharing about their experience with you? Will your guests have enough space to work? Are you responsible for the tables and chairs or are those provided with the rental fee? Is there access to water and will you be able to safely dispose of the workshop water? Is there a way to play music, music always helps the mood!


Because your tables and chairs are most likely going to be rented or a surface where after your workshop other events or food will be present, consider ways to keep the space clean or bring things along to safely clean up the mess that was made. Canvas or rolls of muslin used as a table cloth is a look I am fond of and doubles as a workable surface. Vintage table clothes, or linen table cloths that can be washed after the event are also things I have used to cover the work space. 



Consider the things that you do well as an artist and teacher and play to those strengths when designing your workshop experience. Find help in the areas you lack and hire out elements that could help you reserve your reneger for the things you do best. 


Be sure to photograph these moments as you step into a new role or arrange for a photographer to document the workshop so you can remain focused on your guests . This will help you market your next workshop and help you keep those memories. The meeting of beautiful souls and finding a place of connection will be some of the most beautiful moments of your career. 

I say photograph the event but also before you pack up any work photograph each person's work space and their pieces all together so you are able to match or puzzle together the correct pieces for each person when you return back to the studio to begin the firing. I also include a piece of paper for them to write their name and how many piece they made, their address if shipping, how many pieces in total they made, and any specific glazing instructions for me. 



+My work boards are particle board that I asked the home improvement store to cut on site. My boards are 12x18 and I think we got 10 from a larger board. this is the 3/4 " but the 1/2 "works well too and will save you about $10.

+Favorite alphabet letters for embossing and signing their pieces. I prefer these to the kind that are yellow and purple those are hard to cut and separate the letters,  those yellow ones are smaller and you can't join them together like you can these. Also rubber stamps work but they so often leave the shape of the stamp. these are very clean and easy to use. I use them in my own studio.

+Cutters. These pastry cutters are in my opinion the only ones worth buying. I no longer use metal cutters if it can be helped because they rust and later their shape, its harder to get wet clay to release from them as well. These are thick nylon that can hold up to cutting thicker slabs, clean up well and come in their own case. A few other fun shapes.  I personally love the moon shape. I have sets I use for my own studio work too. 

+The prettiest scissors for cutting patterns 

+My favorite ribbon tool for carving and extracting clay

+Compact white sponges because I have a problem with bright yellow sponges when I'm trying to stick with my brand vibe, also we are trying to get them to use as little water as possible so a smaller sponge reminds them that its really just for a little wiping or to clean their hands. 

+My favorite brushes of all time, useful for glazing, applying slip or underglaze or cleaning up hard to reach seams. 

 +One of my favorite finishing touches is a colorful bit of silk, Tono + Co is my favorite place for their brilliant hand dyed colors and one of my favorite tips is to go to their odds and ends section where you can get such good deals on pieces of silk that you can then use to add some color and character to your workshop either tying them around tool bundles or around a gift or a canvas tablecloth to work upon. 

+Large rolls of canvas for cutting into place mat sizes or putting on the tables to help with the clay mess. 

+Linen tablecloths that add such a vibe, a splash of color and help protect the tables you'll be working on. 

+Work bowls. Often my tables start to get a little crowded and in my mind I think one bowl of water per person but when we actually start to set up it works out more to like one bowl in-between work stations so 2-4 people end up sharing a bowl. I would love love love to have the time to create bowls for a workshop, I think it would be such a beautiful touch, but alas I never remember it in time. I recently got a set of these bowls which fit my branding and make the table feel a little special. But first I worked with little clear acrylic bowls I got from the dollar store so this is a place where you can save or splurge but a special ceramic piece on the table for water will be such a moment!

+Dowels do the trick and can be cut down to make make shift rolling pins. I chose to roll my workshop slabs in my studio with my slab roller just to cut out some time and to ensure they were beginning from a nice even clay slab. But French rolling pins are my favorite if you'd like to add some of those to your kit. This is also a chance to do a bit of thrifting and find some older rolling pins that can have a second life rolling clay slabs instead of pie crusts and you can usually pick them up for a few dollars. 

+ Boxes for transporting tools on the way to the workshop and fragile pieces back to the studio. These are only helpful if you will be making smaller pieces that can fit back inside and be protected. I also included a small piece of muslin to wrap the pieces in that doubled as a work space place mat. 



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