January 2014 //
A year after Jingdezhen

About this time last year, I was halfway across the world, in Jingdezhen, China. I had made a last-minute decision to join a friend on a road trip to the “porcelain capital” — he to do a soda firing, I to see how the city would inspire me once more.

I still recall how cool it was to observe the changing landscape as we drove out of Shanghai and through the outskirts into a different province. As it turned out, I got my inspiration well before we arrived in Jingdezhen.

bear in village

So much has happened since that last trip to Jingdezhen, but some of the most memorable moments during my time in China come from that place.

CATEGORIES: Insider, Inspiration


January 26, 2014

The original Rope Series by the Jōmon

Last week, I introduced the blue bean studio Rope Series. So what better time than now to talk about the *original* Rope pottery?

Before the blue bean studio Rope Series, there was Jōmon pottery.

When I first started focusing on using rope to texture and decorate my pieces, I was told that it had been done before. Of course, I wasn’t surprised to hear that; after all, most ideas are not entirely new and are birthed out of other existing ideas.

But then I looked deeper into the matter and discovered that not only had it been done before, it had been done on some of the oldest pots ever discovered anywhere in the world.

The pottery I am referring to date as far back as 14,000 BC (that’s OLD!) and come from Aomori in northern Japan. These ancient pottery fragments, called “Jōmon” ware, were first discovered near Tokyo in 1877.

jomon pot

The term “Jōmon” (縄文) means “rope-patterned” in Japanese, and describes the characteristic twisted cord patterns impressed on to the surface of the clay. An entire period in the prehistory of Japan, the Jōmon Period, lasting from around 14,000 to 300 BC, is named after this style of pottery, which was produced throughout that time. The very long Jōmon Period is further divided into six phases.

The Jōmon peoples have been described as hunter-gatherers who later became semi-sedentary. The typically small vessels associated with them were probably used to boil and eat food. As the people settled into more sedentary lifestyles, their vessels increased in size. The pottery produced during the Jōmon period has been classified into about seventy different styles, with additional regional variations.

jomon pot

While I did not draw inspiration directly from the ancient Jōmon pottery, I find it intriguing that, when given the opportunity, I had the same desire to impress rope patterns into wet clay as did humans who lived over 15,000 years ago. In a very similar (if not identical) manner, we chose to use a “regular” object to create texture and decoration on our pottery, to make more beautiful a functional object. What does that say about me? What does that say about the Jōmon people?

Perhaps we have not changed so much…

CATEGORY: Inspiration


January 22, 2014

Introducing… the Rope Series

For some time now I’ve been meaning to introduce some of the various elements and themes in my work. It’s a new year, so I’m gonna go ahead and get started on that. First up, Rope!

rope series

The blue bean studio Rope It In series is a play on the rope texture and an exploration of connection and the tie that binds.

When I first started trying various items to create texture, I found myself being drawn immediately to the rope because its texture is at once recognizable, and its form is easily manipulated and is full of potential. There is, however, a slightly deeper reason for my choosing to use the rope for my work.

A rope is made up of many strands. It is a simple everyday object that has varied, and sometimes essential, uses. That is, the rope reminds me that while we, as individuals, may be ordinary strands or threads, many individuals can be woven together to become a strong cord or community that can carry a heavy load or perform a greater function.

Most of the pieces in this series are hand built from stoneware clay and decorated in a clean color palette that brings to mind the beach and the ocean. The texture is simple and minimal. The designs are usually unplanned and organic. At times the lines intersect one another, sometimes they don’t. On occasion, the lines come together to connect or to form a recognizable shape.

rope dishes
These Rope series ring dishes are currently available on Etsy.

As I love experimenting with texture, this series is particularly fun for me.

CATEGORY: Introducing...


January 15, 2014


It’s been a week since we all said our goodbyes to 2013. For me, last year was one of big changes and new beginnings. I had declared it the year of Creativity in my non-specific way of making a resolution. At the time, I had very little idea of what a year of Creativity would look like and I had no specific plan to implement. I later discovered that even one little word can have the power to shift us and move us in different ways along our journey, even when we’re not consciously allowing it to.

a little heart beats

I like this idea of being unintentionally intentional, of allowing a word to permeate life in a way that we can’t fully control. So this morning as I was thinking through my day in bed I decided that I would declare this a year of (insert new word here). I went ahead and picked the first word that came to my head: Growth. Not sure why it was the first and only word that my brain could conjure up in my groggy state, but perhaps my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

The year of Growth. Growth is a good word. It is development. It implies gradual change (in contrast to the big transitions that we experienced last year).

I would love to see growth in many aspects of my life, but perhaps what is most relevant on this forum is development in the creative realm. There are definitely some specific things I can work on, like continuing to improve my throwing and hand building skills in ceramics, or getting more familiar with my new DSLR so I can take photos with greater ease. In other respects, the idea of creative development is rather vague — it could involve exploring different ways of expression, being open to other artistic influences, or finding my creative voice (whatever that means — I haven’t figured it out yet but have been told that it is something we have to constantly work on). I say let’s give it some time and see what sprouts out of this year of Growth.

At the end of the day, it’s all about making 2014 count.



January 7, 2014