Thursday, May 19, 2011


Phew!  It's been a busy week for me, and I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like, but there are just so many great Etsy shops to feature!  Today's shop is Clayshapes, which specializes in gorgeous pottery designs.  I immediately fell in love with owner Leslie's organic shapes and colors, and was blown away to learn she's only been doing this for eight months!  Her sea inspired creations are so lovely, it's hard to believe they're also functional!

sea urchin fruit bowl
CM: Tell us a bit about yourself...
LF:  Before discovering pottery about 8 months ago, I had a pretty exciting career as a journalist and television producer - I spent 8 years as a newspaper reporter and then switched over to television where I worked as a producer/director on an investigative show -- the Canadian version of 60 minutes. I did that for a number of years, and then started a busy freelance career as a producer for a variety of independent companies -- and had a blast traveling the world and making tv shows that ranged from documentaries about women giving birth, to shows about Biblical archaeology -- quite a range of topcis! but about a year ago I decided to take a break from the constant travel and long hours. The plan was to take some creative classes -- my mom and all my aunts and my sister are all artists - and I figured it was time that I dabbled a little bit too.

yellow and aqua curvy bowls

CM: When and how did you start working with clay? Did someone teach you?
LF:  Last fall I took a weekly night course at a local museum for about 8 weeks -- and about a week in I was hooked! I immediately started looking on Craigslist for a used kiln, and went to work rearranging my basement to make room for a small studio. I scoured the internet and my local library for info about glazing and firing -- and learned a lot and continue to teach myself various different techniques. Now that I have my own kiln, I will likely take workshops when I see interesting ones, rather than courses. I love trying to figure out techniques myself -- trial and error can be frustrating, but also very empowering. I am always amazed at what happens when I sit down with lump of clay -- I never really know what will reveal itself.

bronze meteor bowl
CM: How long does it take you to make a piece to sell? What's the process like? Your workspace?
LF:  I work in my studio 3 or 4 days a week -- After I walk my dog each morning I retreat there, turn on my gas fireplace, tune into CBC radio, slice off a piece of clay and start building, or pinching. If I'm making pinch pots, I often get 3 or 4 started -- they need to harden up a little after their initial "pinching" before I can refine them, so I like to have a few going at different stages. I also make slab pieces -- that need to form over makeshift molds for a while before I can work on them everything is in a state of flux and I come and go from my studio several times a day.

It sometimes takes a few days of partial drying, trimming, carving etc. before each piece is ready to dry completely. That takes a few more days, and at the bone dry stage they are ready for their first firing. It take about 24 hours to fire and cool the pieces before I can glaze them, and then there's a second firing and cooling. The entire process, for a load of pieces, takes about 10 days or more-- and I usually have 5 -8 pieces, depending on their sizes.
My studio is in a finished room in my basement that has the aforementioned fireplace (very cozy) and two work tables -- one for forming and working on the pieces before they are bisque fired, and a separate table where I glaze my work.

My dog Gracie (a schnoodle) hangs out with me all day long and is my distraction for long walks while the pieces harden up a little between the stages of work required to finish them. She's good company, although she doesn't really get what I'm doing, and would rather be playing.

Beach House seashell bowls
CM: What's the best thing about selling on Etsy? The most challenging?
LF:  I love that I can sit in my studio, with my computer on my lap and communicate with hundreds of Etsy buyers and sellers every day. I love the feedback from customers and the great community of sellers, always available to encourage and offer advice.
Challenging: It's difficult getting seen when there are more than 95,000 pieces of pottery for sale on Etsy -- but it's such an interesting challenge figuring out how to market my work, that I'm really having a great time. And thanks to your fantastic blog -- a few more people will see my work now too! Thank you!

2 creamy blue snack bowls
CM: What's your favorite item from your own shop right now?
LF:  This will seem odd, but I'm loving all my little sets of bowls and tea bowls -- all pinch pots that are glazed in different colors and textures. I love their primitive shapes and textures. I know a lot of people enjoy a perfectly thrown pot -- but at the moment, I prefer the very handmade look and organic feel of these pieces -- you can literally see my fingermarks all over them! I know this is not to everyone's taste -- but it's the phase I am in right now and I'm quite smitten with them.

3 teabowls or prep bowls
CM: Do you have a favorite shop or item on Etsy? If so, which one(s)?
LF:  One of my favorite pottery artists on Etsy is Roberta Polfus -- I just love her beautiful and strange pieces -- so inspired by nature, but unrecognizable as anything specific:
I also love these little "madge dishes" - made with a marble melted in the bottom of each plate! I think they are magical.
I have dozens of other favorites on Etsy, but I'll stop here, for now.

Not Granny's teacups

A big thank you to Leslie!  Stay tuned for more great Etsy shops - I'll try to post more this week!  


  1. Thanks Christine -- so generous of you to feature my work. I really appreciate your support.

  2. wow...i want at least a half dozen! i love the flow. so beautiful! thanks christine for featuring these on your great blog.