Panopoly: Ceramic art and craft, by Lynae Zebest

Springtime is for Growing Things

2012 has turned out to mean BIG changes for me. Good ones, but big.

New Plates Preview

I have suspended custom orders for the next few months, at a minimum, while I work on a few things, namely:

  • A new fresh face for my work. I’m rehauling the way I make a lot of my pieces, and on top of that, I really want to bring things more into focus, and hone down my lines. For the past few years my pottery has been leaning more and more towards folk art motifs, and out of fear of leaving my “safety zone,” I kept steering away from it. But finally I have taken the leap, and I really want to focus focus focus on bringing my ideas to life. I think you will love what’s coming.
  • Transitioning this site, and my Etsy shop, over to the moniker Zebest Pottery.
  • And lastly–I probably won’t be talking about this here again, since it’s not really relevant to my ceramic work, but I’m turning a lot of my attention over to a second business I’ve been working on for a while: hand-blended nail polishes. It does tie in to my pottery on one way, though, which is that I’ve found myself able to expend most of my EXCESS COLOR ENERGY on my nails instead of my plates. Har har. But seriously…I want a more simple, easily-manageable glaze palette, but it was difficult when I was always like “I NEED TO DO THIS IN TEN MORE COLORS RAR!!!!”

The redesign for this site drags on…which is okay. It’ll happen when it happens.

Look out for a clearance sale in my shop in the near future!

And meanwhile, my bit of earth and green thumb have both been improving….

My First Fennel

Asiatic Lily Blooms

Button (or Bead) Clasps for Your Fiber Jewelry

I’ve been really getting into making friendship bracelets lately, but I kinda wasn’t wearing them, because I hate having to undo the knots afterward, and it makes them get worn out really quickly. I had been thinking of buying some s-hooks at the hardware store and using those, but that didn’t sound very comfortable. I wanted something easy to do and undo that also, you know, looked nice.

Meanwhile, I make porcelain beads and buttons, and I always end up having a few oddballs that for whatever reason never end up in the shop. I’ve been meaning to replace the buttons on some of my clothes with my own work, but I never seem to get around to it! So I pulled those out and started messing with them. As it turns out, they make the perfect clasps, just slipped through a simple loop, and the porcelain is never cold like metal, either.

There were a couple kinks to work out–chief among them the fact that attaching them was hard. The embroidery floss just didn’t want to behave. It was hard to make nice snug neat knots and then they’d keep coming undone. I thought about using glue but me + glue = sticky stuff everywhere. Plus it feels like cheating. Then I saw this macrame tutorial that uses waxed thread, precisely because it makes the thread behave and knots securely. Huzzah! And fortuitously enough, I had a block of beeswax lying around from when I took a book-making class. (If you don’t hoarde art supplies like me, you could wax your thread with a candle too. Beeswax is best but I think paraffin wax would probably work as well.)

And they look great!

button clasps

So in an idle moment, I put together the super advanced and sophisticated tutorial seen below, so that you can make these clasps too. Please click on it to make it big so you can read it and admire my beautiful illustrations!

button clasp tutorial

A couple notes:

1. I do not recommend waxing yarn, or anything but embroidery floss, string or thread. (You probably won’t need it, and it’ll look yucky if you try anyway.) To wax, just run the thread along the surface of the solid wax. The more you do it the waxier the thread will be. I do it until the thread is kind of stiff and a bit tacky. You do not need to wax all the thread for your project, unless you want. Just the ends where the clasp will be will do.

2. This will also work for beads or buttons that have more than two holes. If you have fewer strands of fiber than you have button holes, you could stitch the fibers through the holes a few times to make up for it…but if you only have one strand of thread or other fiber, I recommend using a nice flat bead instead, because otherwise it’ll look pretty uneven.

There is so much amazing, easy-to-make jewelry out there, and you can really elevate it to the next level with just the right button or bead. Good luck with all your projects, and have fun!

Where’s Lynae?

I’m working on getting a new batch of pendants shipped off to Bookish right now, but I wanted to pop in and say hi.

I know I don’t get around to writing in this blog very much, but you can usually find me all over the interwebs, if you wanna see more of me.

I’m pretty active here:
Facebook (personal)
Facebook (fan page)

Say hello if you see me there!

new work

In other news, I’ll also be dropping off a fresh stack of plates to Mission Pie tomorrow…and some new pieces will be coming to rest in the shop tonight too.


(In-progress pendant mandala)

So, I’ll admit it: I took on way too much work last year. Particularly the fall/winter. There are huge chunks of time–weeks, literally–where I don’t really remember what I was doing because I was just working. I was neglecting everything else in my life and also becoming a highly-stressed-out bitch queen.

That is insane and I’m trying to make this year easier, but it’s a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

For the last few years I’ve owned another business besides the pottery. That was GREAT because it was the kind of steady thing that kept my head above water when my pottery sales were slow. But it also took up a lot of time and had a really low profit margin. But over the last year, I had basically reached a wall where (because of this other business) I couldn’t make pottery fast enough to keep up with demand. (Or, maybe I could make it but I couldn’t photograph/write copy/put together Etsy listings/ship stuff too.) So about 2 months ago I made the long-in-coming decision to close up shop on that business and finally start making pottery full-time, for realsies.

But there is literally bags and bags of inventory that need to be liquidated. And long-time customers I need to let down easy. And supplies to go through and pack up. And still-outstanding orders that need to be filled. Etc. etc. And that is dragging on forever.

And then, of course, all the time I was laboring over my unending mountain of work throughout December, I was motivating myself with the promise that as soon as Christmas was over, I would SLOW DOWN and take a break for a few weeks. I would clean my house, maybe go on some day trips with my husband (since the weather has been beautiful), work on my garden, and generally stop and smell the roses.

Instead I got a bunch of “late Christmas gift” custom orders, and simultaneously ALL of my wholesale clients needed urgent restocking. And meanwhile there were still tons of things that urgently needed wrapping up in my other business. So here I am halfway through January, having been working almost nonstop since New Year’s. And this isn’t the end. I’m not done with anything. I’ve got at least another week of work ahead of me.

Don’t get me wrong, please–I agreed to take on the work, and I am happy to have the $$. I’m not playing the victim here. I guess I’m just playing the harried overworked small business owner. But I swear one day soon I am gonna take a BREAK and slow down and freakin’ BREATHE for once!

Meanwhile, there is SO much I have planned for my shop, this website, and my pottery lines this year! As you may have noticed in my Etsy shop, I’ve been going through a long process of transitioning to working as Lynae Zebest Pottery instead of Panopoly Creations. I feel like I’ve outgrown my original name and really want to “come into my own” by being known primarily as, well, myself. Eventually this blog will be migrating to and will get a whole new design along with it. And eventually more of my new work will find its way into the shop, including the stripey mugs that I am super super excited about. I sold all of the first batch of them before they even could be photographed!

Eventually. For now: work. Work work work.

More soon.

BIG update in the shop tonight…

I have been bustin’ my buns recently, getting pieces made and photographed. I’m gearing up for the holiday season!

Tonight, a number of new pieces, mostly my larger work, made their way to Etsy. Take a peek:

squid book cover woodland buttons celebration bowl celebration bowls celebration cups helianthemum lunch plates helianthemum dessert plates jade zinnia plates seafoam zinnia plates mountain daisy plates eat more pie plates pie in the sky plates apple pie plates round plaid dishes oval plaid dishes square plaid plates heart plaid plates

Coming soon: gift tags, coasters, a wee bowl restock, more pendants, and little vases!

Steps to Completion…

I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve got going on in the studio right now. It’s a long journey from wet clay to a finished piece listed in my shop, and I have a little of every step of the road happening right now.

Step 1: Greenware
This is the part where the piece is formed from wet clay and then dried, before it goes into the kiln for the first firing.

Step 2: Bisqueware
After the first firing, the piece is a blank canvas, ready to be decorated and glazed.

Step 3: Waiting to be Photographed
After the piece has been fired again and is complete, I need to photograph it, possibly measure it, and get it online. This is probably the step that a given piece gets stuck on the longest! Many of the pieces in these photos are custom or wholesale work that now just needs to be mailed or delivered…the rest will find their way into the shop sometime soon.

Running on a Treadmill

For the past month or so, I’ve felt like I’m just barely keeping my head above water. There are so many projects I want to be working on, but instead it seems like I’m only completing the tasks that need completing.

This is terribly frustrating for an obsessive workaholic such as myself. For example, working nonstop on custom orders means that, when I’m done, my inventory is just as small (if not smaller) as it was before I made all that stuff. So even though I am making money and working hard, there seems to be virtually nothing left to show for it except a messy studio and a sink full of dishes.

I feel like I really need to kick into overdrive and make some AWESOME NEW STUFF. But–what’s that? A new pile of custom orders just came in? And another project deadline approaches? And I’m going out of town for my birthday on the 26th and need to do all this stuff before I leave?

Here we go again….

Bit of Earth Update

It has been two weeks since I last posted about the garden (and roughly two months since I started working on it), so now it’s time to check in and see how things are going. Things change so quickly this time of year!

Planting Continues

Starting from seed indoors has so far been a huge success. On the suggestion of a wonderful book called Golden Gate Gardening, I planted the seeds in pure vermiculite, and all but one of them sprouted! The wonderful thing I discovered about vermiculite, too, is that it doesn’t hold its shape–which on the one hand does mean that the plants should be transplanted to soil while quite small, but on the other hand means that if I plant, say, 6 seeds and they all sprout, I can go in and separate the 6 plants and replant them separately–so I don’t have to do the usual practice of “thinning.” No one told me I could do this, but I tried and it’s worked like a dream. A few of my homegrown starts have already made it into the garden, and most of the others will be ready to move out there any day now.

We also got a few nursery seedlings, thanks to keeping an eye out for sales. I am really hesitant to spend any significant amount of money on the garden, not only because I don’t have much to spare and am very thrifty to begin with, but also because I’m so inexperienced that I feel like it’s a risky investment. So far I think I’ve spent no more than $60 on the garden…and a good chunk of that was from a gift certificate we got for our wedding last year, so doesn’t entirely count. In addition I feel like the seeds (which make up the bulk of that price) are worth investing in because I can use them for a long time before I run out; even if these starts fail, I can grow more.

Potato Tire in the Background

I took all these photos the day that I planted many of the plants. I dug up all that soil and worked in some organic plant food before getting the plants in–it ended up being a ton of work! As I’ve gotten more “intimately acquainted” with our soil, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bit more clay (how appropriate, right?) than I’d really like, but I didn’t really do my research into how to remedy this issue until after many new plants were already in. I’m hoping that my compost tea applications, and additions of perlite (to help loosen up the soil a bit) with each new planting will be enough to improve things over time.

As of today, 5 days later, many of those plants are not doing as well as they are in the photos. I am, so far, chalking this up to a hopefully mild case oftransplant shock (I did harden them off a bit, but I was pretty lazy about it) and hoping for the best.

We also continue work on clearing out weeds and the big concrete/dirt pile. Orin made a sifter so we can remove the little concrete chunks from the soil, and only dispose of those. These is still a goodly amount of that to do, but we’ve made serious progress. I plan on planting some flowers in that end of the yard in order to attract pollinators, particularly honey bees. (I love bees.)

The Towering Prickly Pear

The prickly pear cactus is currently blooming…it has gotten so much bigger since we moved in four years ago! It’s huge! This year we want to harvest the fruits and eat them!

Prickly Pear Blossom

Ignoring weed plants and most unidentified relics from past gardeners, here’s a rundown of what we’ve got going in the garden:

  • Lavender
  • Two varieties of basil (Sweet Italian and Genovese)
  • Spearmint
  • Agate soybean
  • Dragon Lingerie pole beans
  • Watermelon radish (only 1 of the seeds I direct-sowed came up)
  • California Wonder bell pepper
  • Lemon Catmint
  • Summer savory
  • Cilantro
  • Russet potatoes (in the tire)
  • One new groundcover plant whose name I can’t remember
  • Red and white roses
  • Jasmine
  • Jade
  • Oleander
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Fig tree (potted, not shown)
  • Lemon tree (potted, not shown)
  • …and a relic plant from last year that I believe is a zucchini that may or may not still fruit.
  • Bean Poles Are Up

    On top of that, I’ve got the following starts just waiting to go in:

  • Cimarron lettuce
  • more Watermelon radish
  • Hale’s Best cantaloupe
  • Golden Crookneck squash
  • Paris Market carrots
  • Sweet Banana peppers
  • Florence fennel
  • Scarlet Runner bean
  • This has been such a fulfilling experience so far…if I produce only 1 single vegetable, I will be absolutely ecstatic. But of course I’m hoping to grow a lot more than that!

    Ode to Cayuga

    Welcome Bicyclist

    In 2008, I first visited one of the most beautiful, secret places in the whole world: Cayuga Park, in southern San Francisco, tucked in a quiet little neighborhood and nestled beneath the BART train overpass. Lovingly tended for 30 years by gardener Demetrio “Demi” Braceros, it was filled with flowering plants from his native Philippines, and–here’s the best part–full to the brim with painted wood sculptures he made from felled timber. The gardens were full of handmade benches, railings, arbors, arches and forts, the trees nestled with hidden surprises like woven living vines and little carved snakes and birds. It’s without a doubt the single most amazing work of folk art I’ve ever seen.

    Trail of Hope Entrance

    Sadly, Demi retired just a few months before my first visit, and local volunteers were struggling to fill the huge gap in maintenance–the park department didn’t hire a replacement. They seemed to be doing well at that time, but over the last three years, the park has fallen into a very sad state of disrepair. I was also terribly worried on my last visit, because nearly all of the sculptures had disappeared, and his murals on the concrete columns, retaining wall, and storage container had been painted over. All of the trails were so overgrown, they were nearly impossible to make out, too.


    Well, the silver lining of the story is that after doing some research, it seems that the missing sculptures are currently being kept in storage while the city is in the process of expanding the park and improving its infrastructure, after getting a large sum of bond money. I’m assuming they covered up his paintings because they had gotten too defaced by graffiti. They are going to eventually return the sculptures, and hopefully hire a new caretaker to protect them.

    Tranquil Monk

    I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that things will turn out as hoped, and Demi’s beautiful work will again get to be seen by anyone who stumbles upon this little slice of heaven. In the meantime, I leave you with some photos I took that first day in 2008. There are about 250 in all, and they’re slowly making their way to Flickr; you can see the entire set, and watch it grow, here.

    Red Man

    Ball Player

    Little Old Woman


    Racing Greyhound


    Cheerful Lady

    My Bit of Earth

    I just want to share a little project I’ve been working on ever since we first started getting a few sunny days around here: gardening.

    Bit of Earth 1

    We have a nice big patch of very healthy soil in the back yard of our apartment building, full of earthworms and salamanders. I’ve been wanting to put in a garden of my own out there for years, but never got around to it. For a while, too, another neighbor was gardening there and I didn’t feel like sharing.

    Bit of Earth 2

    Since she moved, though, the garden had gotten to a state of jungle-like overgrown wildness. It was pretty darn intimidating. Also, our landlord did some remodeling last year and dumped a big pile of dirt and concrete on one side of the garden patch, which now needs to be moved. It took us about a week to clear all the accessible weeds, but we’re still not through with the massive dirt pile.

    Bit of Earth 3

    In the meantime I’ve been babystepping my way into gardening. I used to help my grandma weed and tend her roses when I was a kid, and I’ve read a lot about gardening, but other than a few houseplants and such, I have no hands-on experience with what I’m doing.

    Bit of Earth 4

    Fortunately, our garden does have some lovely plants that survived the weeds and make the place look less bare in the meantime. We’ve got 2 rosebushes, a HUGE jade plant, an even HUGER cactus (which is currently blossoming), mint (which recently got invaded by caterpillars, but I think we’re beating them back), an oleander (which I hate but am willing to keep until we need the space for something else) and 2 or 3 other plants I haven’t identified as of yet.

    Bit of Earth 5

    So far, I’ve planted a small lavender and a bell pepper plant (both of which weren’t looking that great for the first couple weeks, but have now suddenly decided to GROW), as well as 3 basils–1 of which died, 1 of which is barely clinging to life, and 1 of which may just pull through. I tried sowing some radish seeds straight into the soil, but I think the slugs or snails got them before I even saw them. So now I’ve started a bunch of different seeds inside, and so far so good.

    Bit of Earth 6

    Soon I’ll share some updated pictures of the garden, including the potato tower, as well as what we’ve been doing to combat the neverending tide of snails!