November 29, 2023

The biggest spoon I’ve ever seen was at a periptero in the suburbs of Athens near the port where my Dad docks his boat. Peripteros, our little pavement kiosks, carry everything from chips, chocolates and cigarettes to batteries and bubbly drinks. Just picture the tiniest supermarket in the world. This one was special though. Positioned just metres away from the roadside, the old man inside the kiosk –– we called him, “O Koutalas,” the big spoon –– would deliver our snacks on a large wooden vessel with a metre long stem. This was my earliest experience of a drive-thu. We’d throw our drachmas into the spoon and whizz onward. The smallest spoons I’ve ever seen were the tiny silver ones we’d use to scoop up mint jelly at our Sunday roasts. My half British Dad loves pomp and ceremony –– crystal salt and pepper shakers, porcelain gravy boats, sterling silver forks for every course –– as much as he does Sunday lunch. My only frustration with the tiny spoons was that I could never fit very much mint jelly on them. Maybe that was the point. When my maternal grandmother died, I inherited her silver. I still keep it wrapped in her flannel washcloths. We try to use it as often as possible. The soup spoons, beautifully shiny and round, like miniature antique gilt mirrors, are my favourite pieces in the set. I once gave a set of vintage ice cream spoons to a dear friend as a wedding gift. It makes me smile to think of her family eating Ben & Jerry’s off silver spoons. I’m not alone in my affection for spoons. There’s something in their soft shape that’s so appealing. They are also a vessel for soups, stews and vanilla ice cream, all comforting foods. Is our fondness for them somehow connected to the fact that our first tastes of solid food come mashed up on a spoon? Look through your kitchen drawers, and I’m sure there are wooden spoons with a hundred memories embedded in the grain. You may even have a beloved one. Given my love for spoons, I’m not sure why it took me so long to make ceramic ones. I was inspired by Paula Grief‘s spoons. And Suzanne Sullivan‘s too. Both potters have elevated the simple spoon to something of an ornament, something we can treasure for years to come. And how wonderful is that?

raw talent

November 17, 2023

Heyja Do. Holy moly. A truly talented ceramicist can take a lump of clay and turn it into something beautiful, refined and unique while still preserving the rawness of its original mud-like state. That’s the magic. That’s Heyja Do. Honey Vase, case in point. Alabaster Object VII, ditto. Canto II reminds me of a piece of limestone that holds down the table cloth in my studio. There isn’t a collection of hers that I’m not drawn to and that I’m not Inspired by. If I were to pick a favourite I might say, Reed II; the fragile, rough edged wing is so moving.

60-mile swim

November 12, 2023

I’ve been eager to watch NYAD since I first read that Annette Bening was making a film about long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad’s epic 2013 swim from Cuba to Florida. I love Bening. I love swimming. And I love stories where the human spirit triumphs against all odds. Just as remarkable as Nyad’s 60-mile swim, is Bening’s portrayal of the swimming legend. I read that Bening trained relentlessly for a year to hone her stroke, and averaged four to eight hours in the water, day and night, in all kinds of weather conditions. She was adamant that she would swim every stroke in the film. Nyad was obsessive and single-minded in her pursuit of her goal, and Bening was obsessive and single minded in pursuit of hers. “We build these cages for ourselves in our brains about what we can and can’t do,” Bening says. “We get so used to that, that we sort of even forget that they’re there.” The 65-year-old actress was likely referring to herself here as much as she was Nyad. It’s no surprise that both actress and subject are in their 60s, far enough along to have shed some of the self doubt, fear and need for control that ravages middle age, and that propels us to build cages in the first place. At 61, Nyad achieved something that she couldn’t in her twenties. “My mind has never been clearer,” she tells her coach and best friend, played by the brilliant, Jodie Foster. “Don’t you get it? The mind. This is what I was missing when I was younger. I’ve got it now.”


November 4, 2023

There’s a brief moment when the clay is almost bone dry and awaiting its first firing, when glazes haven’t been brushed on, or any markings rendered, when the kiln hasn’t had its way yet. There’s no colour or surface decoration to distract us from shape and form. This is my moment. This is what brings me back time and time and again. There’s something so honest and vulnerable about this stage of the process. All I see is possibility, and the hope of what might be. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once because I know that the clay can’t stay this way forever, and that whatever will emerge will never be as satisfying as this raw and hopeful state. And yet, it’s the hope that keeps bringing me back. I’ve made dozens of these spoons in the last two weeks. I love the idea of taking a basic, utilitarian object and making it special. That’s what pottery is. An everyday, functional object that someone made with hand and heart.


October 30, 2023

Saturday was one of those Autumn days with a brilliant periwinkle sky and a sun so warm that we had no choice but to peel off our layers and bask in its rays like worshipers of Ra. I sat on a large rock in a small Annex playground with my three children flapping all about me like birds flying towards the sun and relished in the light and the warmth and the feeling that my children are still young enough to want to swoosh down a slide and cuddle up beside me, and old enough to leave me alone to breathe in the sun. Even my teenage daughter, tired from a party the night before, was content to swing on a swing, to sit on a rock. There was a time (yesterday, and a century ago) that all three of them were attached to me like barnacles and the local playground was an extension of our home. Every mother thinks (read: hopes/dreads) that life might stay that way forever, that one day a plaque will go up next to the swings that reads, “she was a good Mum and she swung really high.” Lucky for all of us, it doesn’t. Lucky for all of us, the children find independence, as do we. They latch on from time to time to remind us of that life, and that forever is a flash.

our country

October 23, 2023

I’ve been listening to some Don Williams lately thanks to an Uber driver who played his songs all the way home from my daughter’s riding class last week. Ruby Tuesday, You’re My Best Friend; I know the songs, I’ve just never connected them to a person. I learned that Williams was especially popular in Africa, where he had enthusiastic fans in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast. “He was my Dad’s favourite singer,” he said. “Africa loves country music.” It makes sense that it’s a genre that resonates with people all over the world, with anyone struggling to make ends meet, feed a family, put kids through school. Anyone who feels let down by their government. “He loved Dolly Parton, too.” Kamel told us how his dad was strict, how he held him back from playing professional football. “I listen to the way you talk to your daughter, my Dad never talked to me like that.” I told him how I used to ride in the backseat of my Dad’s car every Sunday night listening to Neil Diamond, how Diamond is my Williams. It’s funny how music weaves its way into a soul, how twenty, fourty years later, we listen to the music from our childhoods and remember.


October 22, 2023

Andrew Baseman is an interior designer, author and set decorator with a passion for repaired ceramics. His blog, Past Imperfect explores the world of “make-do” repairs, spotlighting broken objects, such as an antique cream jug with makeshift metal handle, that someone chose to bring back to life. We live in a throw-away world, and it’s humbling and inspiring to see such care and creativity brought to objects that most people today would discard. It’s the battle scars that give the pieces their personality, that make them unique. Much like, Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery with gold leaf, these beautiful repairs reflect a resourcefulness, resolve and imagination in the maker that is wholly beautiful.

when it rains

October 21, 2023

People often ask me if wet, dreary days like these make me feel at home. “Just like England, eh?” It’s true, the rain, like cheddar and tea, makes people think of England. Funnily enough, I don’t remember it raining much at all when I was a kid. I’m sure it did all the time, but children don’t notice or care about the weather the way adults do. Kids aren’t making contingency plans or worrying about catching a chill if they get caught in a downpour. They don’t care about consequence or being cold and wet as long as they’re having fun. “My childhood winters were so much colder than they are today,” said a studio mate this morning as we lamented the lack of natural light. “But I don’t think I payed attention to the cold. Children don’t.” It wasn’t until I moved to Norfolk in the late 90s that I realized how I much it rains in England. The combination of incessant drizzle and Brutalist architecture made for a rather gray time. Thank heavens for brilliant house mates. The line between childhood and adulthood is blurry. For me the shift was at around 19. I lived on my own. I was out in the world. I started noticing the weather.


October 16, 2023

I learned the word, Weltschmerz this week, which in German literally translates as, “world pain.” It’s a feeling triggered by the inexplicable pains and evils of the world, when our ideals of how the world should be collide with the darkest of realities. I learned the word from a dear friend of mine, who like many people this week, had to support her child through many questions and anxieties around the war in the Middle East. It’s a devastating thought, that our collective heart is as heavy as it is right now. With the very essence of our shared humanity being so brutally challenged, how could it not be. These words from Toni Morrison bring solace. “No more apologies for a bleeding heart when the opposite is no heart at all. Danger of losing our humanity must be met with more humanity.”


September 28, 2023

As a ceramicist, I’m often thinking about what my vessels might hold. Is this long enough for asparagus? Deep enough for soup? Beautiful enough to hold nothing at all? When life is really busy and intense, as it is right now, I return to the tiniest of vessels. The focus they demand is so strong that everything else turns to black. I can’t think too much about what these tiny vessels will hold –– salt, sand, air –– or pragmatism will take over and I won’t make anything at all. And so I stand here, pinching tiny bowls on tiny pedestals with tiny handles, knowing that their end function matters so much less than the focus they are bringing me in the here and now. The beauties below are by Japanese artist, Yuta Segawa. I own five of them, and they’re filled with nothing but dust and joy.

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