Pottery Journal

I’ve been throwing pottery for ~19 years. Since 2006 I’ve kept a journal of my pieces to help me track them through the multi-staged process and remember what I’ve done for each piece.

I started doing this when I was throwing in teaching studios to track pieces going in and out of the kilns. In teaching and community studios everyone’s dry pieces get put in the same rack to get bisque fired. If you didn’t keep a record of what pieces you had getting fired you would lose them! Similarly everyone’s glazed pieces would get put on the same rack before getting glaze fired which could take many weeks and it was easy to forget what you had coming out of the kilns.

I quickly started adding what glazes I used on each pieces as well, so if something came out particularly good, or bad, I could remember what I had done for next time.

Since I’ve become a home potter I’ve also started keeping track of the clays I’m using. This was less of an issue when working with teaching or community studios where they often only have one white/porcelain and one blush.

As an example, here is a small bowl that I threw recently and the markings on the bottom:

The stylized K (actually a K made with a C — KC, get it?) is my potter’s mark so I know that piece is mine. The pot has the year it was made and a number that I increment for every piece in the year. This was the 18th piece I threw in 2021.

Here’s the journal entry for the piece in the 2021 section:


My handwriting is horrible, but it includes the number (18), a short description (small bowl with foot), the clay (SEA Mix 5), the dates that it went into the bisque (BI), out of the bisque (BO), a missing date for when it went into the glaze fire (GL), and a final date when I got the finished piece back (F). Perhaps most importantly it includes the glazes that I used (Snow with a splash of Mulberry under) and what I thought of it (Lovely!).

Pieces get added to the journal after they’ve been successfully trimmed since that’s when their life really begins.

While the journal is for me, one of the side benefits is that I will often encounter a bowl that I made for someone and turn it over to see when I made it. And while it’s rare, there have been times where I’ve wanted to replicate (or try to replicate, this is pottery, let’s be realistic) the glazing of a piece and I’ve had the records to duplicate it.

I also laugh at myself thinking that sometime in the far future some art historian will be cataloging my pieces and be able to quip with gusto “oh, a 2013 — this was his black on porcelain period”!

Pie and pottery

This weekend started my week-long staycation and I jumped right into the baking and throwing.

In the kitchen I decided to conquer the fabled braided crust after being inspired by my friend Habib’s beautiful crusts and a pumpkin pie seemed perfect for the season. Despite a panicked moment where I forgot how to braid (seriously brain?) it turned out really well! I see more of these in my future.


In the pottery studio I trimmed the spoon rests and small bowl I threw last week. This was easy and uneventful just as I was hoping it would be. I then started into the three pieces that we need around the house: a tea steeping lid for Daniel and pots for our two carnivorous plants.

After brewing his tea, Daniel has been using plastic take-out container lids on top of his mugs. This will never do – we are not barbarians. I mean, how hard can it be to make, it’s essentially a small plate with a rim. Clearly a plate thrower I am not because I re-learned the lesson: throw plate-like-things on bats. After throwing bowls for so long I got use to throwing them directly on the wheelhead and you just can’t with plates and get them off intact. Lesson (re)learned.

We have two carnivorous plants in the house which are both pretty and help keep the fruit-flies in check. Unlike other plants, carnivorous plants need to sit in water. For both plants we’ve been using, again, random plastic containers we’ve had available so I set out to throw some short wide cylinders for them. We will probably still keep them in the black plastic pots — the last time we tried to transplant some it went poorly — but it’ll be a step up.

I opened up into the Pine Lake White clay and it threw like a charm. It’s much less groggy than the Columbia White and I’m looking forward to throwing some more with it.

Home pottery studio

After being on backorder for 5 months my new Brent C pottery wheel arrived yesterday. Thus begins the start of my first home pottery studio.

I’ve been throwing pottery for something like 15 years now, but always in a studio. First Clayways in Austin (which has since become Austin Pottery), then Pottery Northwest here in Seattle. I was taking a class two years ago when I ruptured my bicep tendon in March. Then life happened. Then the pandemic. I ordered a Brent C wheel from Seattle Pottery Supply back in May but the manufacturer was on backorder. Little did we know the backorder was going to be 5 months long!

The wheel arrived yesterday and I picked it up with the help of friends with a truck. I came home with 2 bats, 2 plaster wedging boards (one for dark and one for light clay bodies), three different kinds of white and white/buff clays, and a stool.

Today I threw for the first time in 1.5 years with an entirely new setup and new clay. So I went to my go-to “remember how this works” pieces: some spoon rests and a bowl.

It’s going to take me a while to figure out how to work well in this new space. Using Daniel’s woodworking bench for wedging went way better than I had hoped. The throwing itself went great and I look forward to testing out the other two clays I got — Columbia White was groggier than I like. Cleanup didn’t go as smoothy as I wanted though and it’s going to take some time to figure out. I need to get a clock and radiant heater for the garage. I also need to store the clay inside (because wow cold clay is cold) but having warm water while throwing was really nice!

I’m super excited to get to play in the mud this winter with the convenience of a short walk to my garage!

Doing pot again

I started doing pot again last night. I'd forgotten how much I missed the high.

Did I say pot? I meant pottery. (Yeah, a terrible pottery joke. They don't get much better either!) This is not my first throwing class – that was about 8 or more years ago at a wonderful teaching studio in Austin: ClayWays. This time last year I took a class at Pottery Northwest but didn't get a whole lot out of it, either in skill or product. Not for lack of a wonderful facility and teachers, but because of my divorce. I wasn't motivated to attend class some weeks – much less go in during open studio time.

This time however, I'm motivated and excited. I'm focusing on more functional pieces – yes, more serving bowls but also spoon rests, salsa bowls, and maybe even some little ramekins. My focus in skill will be on glazing so I need to churn out some pieces early to get started on that ASAP.

Last night I made 2 jumbo spoon rests (ladle rests?) and a large salsa bowl. I need to get in on Friday to trim my pieces and let them dry with hopes of getting them in the Tuesday bisque firing. Yes, that's a crazy aggressive schedule and I realize the clay is not likely to cooperate with that speed, but that's the goal.

This class is a beginner class and as Jonobie pointed out, I'm far from a beginner. While I can always improve my skill in various areas fundamental, I'm firmly in the intermediate category. Really what I need is just more practice and enrolling in the beginning class allows me to do that. Every class at Pottery Northwest comes with open studio time. After you're enrolled you can go in whenever they're open (which is effectively 24/7) and work as long as there's an open wheel. I'm going to try and block out some time on my calendar to get into the studio outside of class to help move things along.

Support a local Austin business: ClayWays

ClayWays is a wonderful teaching pottery studio in the heart of Austin (right on Burnet near 2222). Before moving from Austin I took several wheel classes there and fell in love, not only with pottery but with the camaraderie that a teaching studio offers. In addition to a teaching studio, ClayWays has a gallery full of pottery created by local potters available for purchase.

Like many small businesses, ClayWays is having a bit of a rough time and could use any help it can get — both from new students as well as purchases from their gallery.

On Saturday, April 25th they are having a Show and Sale called “Small Wonders” from 5pm-9pm including pottery demonstrations from 5pm-7pm. From their website:

In response to drought, many cultures hold a rain dance. This show and sale is our response to the economic drought. In good times or bad we deliberately go to pot ever day – we are your community potters.

We are also your friends and neighbors and we need your help to create a ground swell of mindful local shopping to keep us in business. Come to our show and let’s get to know each other.

If you’re looking gifts to give, please consider attending and supporting a local business. Who knows, you might find a new hobby along the way!

ClayWays is at 5442 Burnet Road, Austin TX 78756.