Return to the familiar

Return to the Familiar….

I’ve been missing from here for a couple months. I hope some of you noticed, but I’ll forgive you if you haven’t! The beginning of a new year is a funny time of year for me; part catch up and part forward planning. I find I’m not “in the moment” much. Now though, as spring arrives here in Southern California, I’m beginning to find myself reaching out more.

Return to the familiar. I find mCedar Pocket Ceramics yself, once again, the poster child for this, my favorite concept I learned in a  beginning sociology class I took many years ago. Return to the familiar is why it’s so difficult to break the cycle of violence, or welfare, or any other generational condition you’re addressing. We all go back to what is familiar. For me it’s production work. Not in a factory sort of way, although sometimes my life feels like that Lucy show where she’s working in a chocolate factory! I tend to be comfortable in a “if I can make one, I can make many” sort of way. If I make soup, I make enough for a soup kitchen to feed an entire town. When I was actively making my Gourdfolk, I made and shipped them all over the country.

May Lindstrom SkinA couple of years ago I was fortunate to be asked by a really lovely woman, May Lindstrom, if I’d be interested in making bowls for her line of skin care potions, May Lindstrom Skin. At the time she was just developing her line, and I thought it sounded interesting. Little did I know that she would become a phenom in the handcrafted, organic, luxury world of skin care. Words fail to adequately convey the refined yet earthy qualities of her line. May has a sense of responsibility about her creations. She sources only the highest quality ingredients; organic when possible, The bottles and jars she uses are dark violetCedar Pocket Ceramics Melissa Brown miron glass to protect the volatile oils and potent powders she crafts her products from. I’m very pleased that May enlisted me to make the bowls for her Problem Solver Correcting Masque. I throw each one on my vintage wheel, glaze them with my gunmetal black, which of course is food safe, and finish them in a third firing with May’s beautiful dandelion logo which we had made in 24 carat gold. They’re quite yummy.

Hand made dog sculptures for those who have everything.

So, What are people giving this year to the people on their list that have everything? Hand made, one of a kind, personalized, custom hand sculpted ceramic dogs, of course.So, What are people giving this year to those on their list that have everything? Hand made, one of a kind, personalized, custom hand sculpted ceramic dogs, of course.

I’ve been busy in the garagio sculpting dogs for folks to give as gifts to the hard to buy for pet-loving people on their Holiday gift giving list. I’ve been sculpting chihuahuas, labs, Bracco Italianos, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retrievers, Shit tsus, Portuguese Water Dogs, and mutts of course.

I love hearing stories about the different dogs I’m asked to sculpt. Although all the stories are different, there is always a common thread. Love. Some of these dogs were purchased or rescued from places far away, some show up uninvited and become a part of a family. Some live on farms, some in suburban yards, and one even lives on a yacht. Some are puppies and have their whole lives ahead of them and sadly, some have passed on. But they are all truly loved.

Thank you for asking me to do this. It really is my pleasure.


Merry Small Business Saturday!

Because of you I can go to work in my jammies and bare feet. That makes me so happy – all year long – not just on Small Business Saturday.

To show my appreciation, I am going to have my first ever sale in my Etsy shop,, this Saturday, November 24, 2012. All my ready to ship inventory will be 20% off! LittleDog and I have rolled out the welcome mat for you!

Saturday is also officially Small Business Saturday. Even if you decide not to shop with me, consider giving some of your holiday shopping to a small or local business this year?

We all thank you!


It’s said nothing is quick in ceramics. It is indeed a lesson in patience. I’ve learned to grow, stretch myself.

How can I describe the feeling of seeing something in my head, have it manifest physically through various techniques that have been so generously shared with me, dry, make it through the bisque fire, choosing the best glazes to achieve the affect I want, and then fire it to over 2100 degrees Fahrenheit, well past literal red hot. The moment when a potter opens the kiln and sees the physical manifestation of a design, a daydream, the fleeting kernel of an idea is beyond description. It’s what keeps so many of us going back for more.

Patience was always one of the ingredients lacking in my life. I always wanted everything now. That need for immediacy helped me hone many skills. For instance, I can whip up a pretty decent meal very quickly…I was even an oyster bar chef…pouring drinks and serving up seafood delicacies in front of a packed bar. My husband and I did art shows for many years selling my GourdFolk. Setting up a show is another exercise in speediness. You often need to drive to a new city, find your booth, set up a welcoming attractive storefront in just a few hours, then calmly meet and greet customers, and after it’s over break it all down as quickly as you can to get home to your waiting bed. Anyway, as usual, I’m beginning to ramble.

Working with ceramics has taught me so much. Like a good meal, life needs a balance of salty and sweet. The patience ceramics has taught me is my sweet.

Penny and her Cone.

Good morning. So… our Lab Penny had to have surgery on Wednesday. She had several tumors taken off, three on her poor little ear another on her back. She’s doing fine…my husband Steve and I? …ehhh.

Ever see a hyperactive American Field Lab with a cone on her head try to navigate a ceramic studio? How about a drugged lab with a cone on her head chase raccoons with a yapping little mutt heading the charge – at 3 in the morning? Or maybe a lab with a cone on her head being persistent enough that you finally throw the ball to her? It’s a lot like playing a carnival game…ring toss anyone?

Do I sound tired? Yep, a little bit. But don’t worry. Penny is resting comfortably!

Update: Penny’s tumors were all benign! Now just have to deal with the cone head for the next two weeks!


One of the best things about living in Southern California is being able to grow almost anything. The exception is anything that needs a hard freeze and prolonged chill hours like some stone fruit. One of my favorite things in our garden are the Wonderful pomegranates.

Whoever named them decided to point out the obvious. Yes, they are wonderful, my Wonderful poms, and they are almost ripe!


One thing I can count on is that I’m easily distracted during the change of seasons. My creative juices get stirred when the weather changes. I’m no longer complacent. If it’s brisk in the morning all the better. It’s like all my senses become heightened, like my cells are saying “hey wake up! Something’s different here and it’s worth slowing down and taking a look”. I become inspired.

Yesterday in the garagio, I had my to do list, a couple of urns, more than a few dogs, and finishing some other pieces. I also had about a dozen mugs I’d thrown that were under plastic awaiting a critter or embellishment of some sort. As I sat at my desk finishing my cuppa before I started, my gaze fell upon a set of antique letterpress type I had left out the night before. My eyes landed on one of those green ware mugs…then the type…then the mug…type…mug…okay I’m sure you know where I’m going here. That dozen mugs? While they’re not all branded with my inspiring words of the day…most are. I think I’m going to love these. I hope you do too.

What are your inspiring words? I’m making a list!

Ceramics isn’t for Wimps.

Tape & Sympathy

On any given day, you can find me out in my garage studio (hereafter referred to as the garagio) in my pajamas and barefoot. I don’t see any sense in getting all clean and dressed when I know within a matter of minutes I’ll be covered in clay. I’ve never liked shoes. Growing up in Southern California, I seldom needed them for warmth and I have oddly wide, hard to fit feet. TMI? Anyway, all my life, I’ve kicked off confining irritating shoes as soon as I could. I cheered when it became trendy to run barefoot, not that I run, I just love hearing it’s healthy. I feel like it doesn’t make my barefoot tendency quite as odd. As much as I’m an advocate for barefeet, I did think it was disconcerting when that hobbit movie director started showing up at all the award shows barefoot. I love that he championed the barefoot cause, but I must admit, ever since the 70′s ended I do don shoes for most public events. Maybe it’s a girl thing.

Anyway, I digress. Last Saturday was no different than most days. I went out to the garagio, trimmed some mugs I have in the works, and decided to tidy up a bit since it was the end of the week. I pulled my lovely, but ever so heavy, circa 1970′s Shimpo pottery wheel towards me to sweep under it and I just kept going – right over my big toe. It took my big toenail with it. I won’t go into the details but suffice it to say…that moment is something that’s going to stay with me a long time! I flapped the nail down, put on a pressure wrap, then went in and put on street clothes and a shoe on the undamaged foot and waited for my darling husband Steve to come home. We wound up in the UCLA emergency room for the rest of the day. There I learned the magical properties of morphine and nerve blocks and I was counciled on the wisdom of wearing shoes when working around heavy equipment.

The ironic punchline? I wont be wearing a shoe on my right foot for a long, long time.

I’m off to the garagio now…barefoot!

ps: my toe is feeling much better now, a few days later.

Melissa World

My brother in law gave me an i Pad a while ago. A couple weeks ago he introduced me to Pandora radio. Last week he sent me a wireless Bose speaker with Bluetooth that I can play Pandora Radio on my i Pad anywhere I want. Today I gardened listening to Alison Krause “radio”.

Lessons learned today:

1. WiFi only reaches to the goldkist apricot tree.
2. Gardening is even better with music.
3. Goldkist apricot trees can support an i Pad.
4. I have an awesome brother in law.