Panopoly: Ceramic art and craft, by Lynae Zebest

More Thing A Day


I’m really enjoying making mugs lately, which is weird because I’ve only made 2 prior to this, in my entire history of pottery-making.


And I’m making some modifications to the design of my wall tiles…I like this new one better so far, but we’ll see how it is post-firing.

See more Thing A Day here.

Some New In-Progress Photos for You

I don’t think I ever even wrote about this here, but for this past Christmas, my dad gifted me with a much larger kiln than the one in my apartment, so that I could finally start making larger ware with more regularity. It’s big and beautiful…and unfortunately can’t actually live with me here in San Francisco. Theoretically I could rent studio space for it, but practically that’d be way outside my price range (which is about, uh, $0). However, my dad also recently bought a house in my old hometown, Sacramento, which is less than 2 hours away from me. The house has a large empty garage, so we decided to install the kiln there.

Kiln in the Corner

Because of the its size, and the travel involved, I decided to only use the big kiln when I have a lot of stuff to fire. This means slower turnaround times, but gives me an incentive to make stuff on a larger scale.

Full House

Earlier this week, I finally decided I had made enough greenware to make it worth the trip. Two days ago, Orin and I carefully loaded the backseat with well-padded boxes of goodies, and off we went. Everything survived the drive intact, which pleased me very much!

My Bowls Runneth Over

My dad’s house is in a very picturesque setting, right over the levee from the Sacramento River. While I unloaded the boxes and snapped some photos, Orin climbed the tree in the front yard.

Boy in the Tree

Then he helped me load the kiln, which I think took at least a half an hour to do.

Totally Stacked

It takes my kiln about 8½ hours to heat up to Cone 07 (roughly 1800 degrees Fahrenheit), and then probably another eight or so hours to cool down again. We took the time to relax and have a little “vacation” of sorts.

Then, yesterday afternoon, everything was ready to come out again.

Zee Kiln

I remember, when I was in ceramics classes, my instructor often said that our ware would be hard to recognize after it came out of bisque fire, because everything shrinks, and items sometimes warp, crack, etc. And sometimes things sat around for so long before firing that you’d even forget you made them! Indeed, I remember occasionally not knowing my own work, and only realizing it was mine when I saw my signature on the bottom. It’s hard to say whether or not that has changed simply because, you know, everything in the kiln is made by me now. I would rather think it’s because my work is more defined now, because at the end of the day my work simply looks like mine. Which is a good thought to have.

Bowls of Goodies

And now I’m back home again, with my bisqueware in three big boxes, waiting to be glazed and fired again. I really like making lists, so here’s a nice numerical rundown of what I brought back today:

  • 6 burnished white stoneware plates, for me to try some maiolica-style illustrations
  • 1 special white stoneware plate with a complete poem stamped into it
  • 12 (4 sets) descending canvas vases, in a couple different size variations
  • 10 ice cream bowls in both red and white stoneware
  • 6 wee succulent pots, significantly larger than that first prototype
  • 18 wee bowls in red stoneware clay. I’m going to be streamlining my wee bowl line so that they come in two standard sizes; these ones will be the smaller size
  • 102 flat porcelain buttons, in various shapes, sizes and textures.
  • 31 rings; hopefully, counted among this number are the myriad custom sizes I’ve been trying to get for the last couple months
  • 3 new button molds
  • 29 poem drop pendants
  • 5 big beads. My beads have suddenly decided to get popular, possibly due to some advertising I’m doing on Ravelry, so I’m planning on making a lot more of ’em in the near future
  • 22 big shank buttons. I’m really excited about these. I redesigned my shank buttons so they’re bigger, and made entirely of clay, rather than metal in the back. I’m making them from molds of vintage earrings.

Also: I’m now making all my little ware (beads, buttons, rings, pendants) out of porcelain, for extra strength and durability.

Plates, Bowls, Vases

Ready to Fire

Big Order, Little Bowls

My first big custom order is almost complete. A restaurant here in San Francisco, Contigo, asked me to make about 30 of my wee bowls for use as salt dishes. Making the wee bowls has always been fun but sometimes it can be challenging to have that much fun… if you understand my meaning. It was quite an odyssey to make that many bowls, all within identical specifications. Let’s just say I was glad to get the order and glad now that they’re done. Tomorrow they will set out into the world, to be set out on tables in my own town. I’m fairly sure the owners will like my work.

However, complications do happen. After their second glaze firing I discovered that I’d somehow forgotten to inscribe anything on them. Blast! Inscribing is important: it makes each item personal, it let’s people know that someone actually hand made them, but more importantly who hand made them. I experimented with an overglaze but, sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any good way to fire them (I simply don’t keep that many tiny kiln stilts around). Now I’ve settled on the unlikely choice of marking them with an ordinary everyday Sharpie. Yes—as simple as that. Provided my handwriting is careful enough, things should finally be complete. 

If you’re ever in town, if you’re ever hungry, and if you ever visit the soon-to-open Contigo, carefully check under the little ceramic salt bowl on your table. Know that it came from someone who enjoyed making it, from someplace quite like this:

Bon appétit!

Hard at Work!

I just took a new load of bisqueware out of the kiln a couple days ago–these adorable little cups, rings, more beads and buttons, and am in the middle of glazing a bunch of other stuff–but I don’t have pictures of that right now, so instead here’s another image. Some of these guys have already sold, some are in my shop now, and some have yet to be listed!

new beads and bowls

And, another kiln-load done today!

My kiln is currently doing a bisque fire for a large number of items–mostly beads, but also some experimental things, such as some freeform pendants, some adorable little buttons, a bangle bracelet, and a little inkwell. I still have some bisqueware waiting too be glazed, too!

The popularity of my handmade beads seems to be steadily growing, which is very encouraging. I found out today that my work has been featured in two blogs: Art Bead Scene and Creativadoration.

My new policy of relisting items at least once a day, when I have nothing else to list, seems to be helping, as well, because my sales and Etsy hearts have both been going up steadily.

Right now I’m finally doing test tiles, which is taking a while and slowing down new item listing, but it’s definitely worth it: I’m finding out a lot about my glazes and I think it’ll significantly improve the appearance of my products in future.

It’s strange, because it seems like only a few days ago I was worrying about how far behind on my work I was, and now I’m breathing a sigh of relief: “Ah, right on schedule.”

Oh, and I’ve made some big updates to the Handmade Supplies Resource, too!

It’s a Pleasure…

…making Treasuries! I made a new one: it can be seen here until tomorrow morning, but can be viewed on Flickr indefinitely:

Treasury: Doyouthinkysaurus?

I’ve also listed some more of my handmade beads, my favorites being these lovely sunset-colored pink and brown rounds:

Sunset Handmade Ceramic Beads

And glazing away in my kiln right now are six vessels of various sizes and shapes! Woohoo!

Almost Firing Time

At this point I’m just waiting for a couple things to finish drying before I do my first bisque fire. This was my workspace yesterday:

My Workspace Yesterday

As you can see, I’ve made lots of beads, I appear to have successfully made several bead molds, with more on the way (we’ll see how they survive the firing) and I have some other misc. stuff in the works–not pictured is a vase I made last week, plus today I made a dozen teeny little pinch pots, intended for use when I’m sorting out this big bag of mixed-up glass beads I have. And, later last night I also finished the big cup you can see in progress in that picture.

I’ve been trying to make a massive amount of test tiles, but I can’t find an efficient, uniform way to do it. I’ve decided to find a simple cookie cutter, or make something similar myself.