Say Hello To the New Studio...

Welcome to the new Mrs Peterson Pottery Studio! What was once the old musty laundry shed, is now the enchanting Mrs P creative space. We bought a tiny Blue Mountain cottage in December last year and for the last 9 months the hands that were once in clay have been rolling paint, sprinkling grass seeds and hammering in the odd nail here and there for a very different kind of making.

It has taken 9 months of not having a space to work from, but I have just moved into what is the most magical pottery studio I have ever known. Old stained glass windows (yet to be finished and restored), recycled brick paving, loads of natural light and a tiny nook for my kiln, this space is truly a divine place to create. 

I am a gypsy by heart, always moving, always traveling, a little bit superstitious. This is the longest time I've lived in one place since I was a ten year old girl. It's fitting that in the 6th year of business, Mrs Peterson Pottery finally has somewhere to organise and fit all of the materials that go into producing work on a full time basis. After a huge de-clutter and a konmari attitude towards my living spaces, this marks a fresh start and a new way of working. It's time for new work, new opportunities and fresh creativity to fill the space.

It's been a challenging year for me, laying low due to health issues, realising the capabilities of a one woman show, reassessing my business and creative direction, I've been able to do something that not many small business entrepreneurs allow themselves the time to do: take some time off and re-design the wheel. And what a sparkly new shiny wheel it is! 

The focus this year is a fine balance of lifestyle and hard work, creativity and productivity, creative collaborations, new projects, streamlining wholesale and... dare I say it, making work for myself, making things that make me happy, that bring me joy. I have so, so much to learn and experiment with in the land of clay. I am not afraid to keep it weird and make time to play. And what better backdrop to do it in. Fairy lights on, tea hot to sip, the oak tree swaying outside the studio window and my hands in clay.


All my life I was told I was an impatient child. I always thought I was never good at the art of patience, but alas, I find this may not be entirely true. 

In the first years of my business people remarked repeatedly at how I must have loads of patience to do what I do. All those tiny, little porcelain pieces, all made from scratch, all made individually, one by one through a long and repetitious process…. Yeah… I do have patience (or some obsession) to do that. Ha ha! See Mum and Dad, I’m not impatient after all! Suck it!

But then again, in some ways, I still am very impatient. When I’m firing the kiln, I notice myself getting a little on edge, never quite relaxed. And when I know the kiln is off and cooling down, the temptation to crack open the door, a few hundred degrees before its ready to be opened is excruciating. It’s like having a present in front of you that you’re not allowed to unwrap. AAGGGGHHHHHhhhhhh! But I want it now! It’s so close.

The anticipation of something makes me impatient for it. It’s a total mind game. I liken it to ordering packages from the internet, Once I’ve ordered the thing, I’m a little on edge till it arrives. I listen out for the postman, I eagerly check the letterbox and try not to leave the house if I think the delivery man is coming. I can’t wait to get that package! LAME.

The best thing I can possibly do when I feel like that, is to stop thinking about it. FORGET about that package. Ignore the kiln load of goodies beckoning you to open the door.  Set the timer and walk away. Is it ready yet? Is it here yet? Are we there yet? Honestly child, you are so impatient.

They say that all good things come to those who wait, well, stuff waiting, waiting takes energy. Go and do something else. Imagine for a moment the thing you are waiting for isn’t in your yet reality (often it’s not). And just focus on something else. I don’t even think this is about the art of distraction, It’s about getting on with here and now. Patience is a mind game, out smart it and imagine the thing you are waiting for doesn't exist yet, and let it go completely. 

Then when that package arrives at your door, or the kiln timer goes off… SURPRISE! 



Ok great, You’ve got this awesome creative handmade business, and you’re selling your creations to all the people and shops who love it. Woo Hoo. So make another 20 of those. Better make another 50. Boy you’re really selling out of those fast, make another 100. I can’t believe that 100 are already sold! Shitballs, make 200. Boy oh boy, I have to make another hundred of those things that keep selling… huuhhh. Yes, yes, they’ve sold out, but I’m making some more over the weekend. Ok, so I better make more of those things that everybody wants. I should make more of them, then I’ll have the time to make something new. I've got these great ideas for new things, I just have to make more of those things first, then I can be creative again. Gotta chase the $$$ right?

Yeah, well… I've finally learnt that production and creativity are 2 completley different things. I know it sounds obvious, but it took me a long time to figure this one out. And I'm still finding a balance between the two.

I always thought I was running a totally creative handmade business, then one day I started getting the feeling that I was on the hamster wheel. It crept in like a fog and hung around for too long. I couldn’t understand why I felt so exhausted. What would I possibly have to complain about/feel tired about/feel bogged down by? After all, I was running my own creative business, I was my own boss, I could choose my own hours, I could rock up in my pajamas. What’s the deal?

Then after a few years, every time I got large orders for ‘popular items’ I would feel this feeling in my chest like a heavy weight. Why did creating pottery feel like this? And then I realized that there’s no creativity here what so ever. It’s stale. It’s stagnant. It’s old. I’ve been making hundreds and thousands of that same item for over five years, and there’s nothing about the process that excites me, ignites me or feels sacred in any way.  And this type of production takes up 80% of my business! Uh, oh. I have orders to fill, and I have people counting on me to make this STUFF! Now I have to do it, or else…. the world will end!

I can hear you saying “Well, just get someone else to make it for you.” (or suck it up) It’s a smart business move to expand and hire staff, more productivity, get someone to do the shit jobs that you’re sick of. I thought about it. I thought about it a lot. And instead of moving down that path, I chose to go a different way. A potentially scary and risky decision that might cost me some sweet business $$$.

Remembering the reason I got into pottery in the first place was to express my creativity and play in any way I felt like... to be free. I made so much stuff, that I had no where to put it all. I realized that I was more in love with the process than the outcome so I made many, many  pieces and started to sell them (I like a little repetition and consistency in my work). People started buying them (yippee) and it made me so happy that other people also loved my work, to think it brought them joy too! Then when I turned it into a business, I rose to the demands of production, I ran a tight ship. The more I sold, the more people wanted, the more people wanted, the more I made, then years later, my focus had shifted entirely to make what people want… make what and how many they ask for (after all, that's where the money is right?) but it was too much hamster wheel for me. I needed five people to handle the workload of production and business management I was doing, and I was only one person! EXHAUSTION. BURN OUT. RESTRUCTURE.

This lesson has been a tough one. This process of figuring out what my business is and how it works. How to please people, and provide a good product and service, and still remain creative and free. For me it is so intrinsically tied up with my heart, which is unusual in business to always operate from the heart. But I hold dearly the essence of why I create in the first place. That place where creativity comes from is so new and expansive, it is sailing into uncharted waters. It's is about not always taking the same path. 

I like that my work is made by me, totally me. And that I put my heart in it.  It is sometimes difficult to navigate this in the business world of retail and wholesale. But I realize I can say yes, and I can say no. I can choose projects and creative challenges that ignight me. I can have a break from products that don’t excite me any more, I can take time to play with new ideas and how important it is to come up with new and exciting products. 

And at the end of the day, I am a potter. I love to create things. Some of these things are for sale. Interested?


Ceramic work can be an intense and deeply inward process. If porcelain was a cult, I'd be it's loyal devotee. I love it. I want to share with you the lessons I've learnt from working with that buttery stuff I squish between my fingers. The first lesson?



This morning when I opened the kiln to take a peek at my latest glaze firing, I saw 3 porcelain rings that had fallen and stuck themselves to the middle of the kiln shelf. Rings broken, kiln shelf buggered and my precious time wasted. Years ago, this would have pissed me off. Today, I’m surprised it even gets a mention is this blog.

This kind of shit happens all the time in pottery. Things explode, glazes drip, hard work fails. If you keep doing it, you get better at it, but doesn’t necessarily equal less failure. Things just sometimes go wrong. Not to mention each time you take on a new challenge, when the testing process can be full of failure and broken dreams. But the more you experience ‘things not turning out’, the quicker you recover from disappointment. It becomes just another part of the process.

Expecting 100% of everything I do to be total success is such an unrealistic expectation, yet at the beginning of my work with clay, this is how I thought. A few months of hard work, and a few entire kiln loads of disaster quickly shook that expectation down a notch (or ten). 

If we forget that failure can happen, we are shaken when it arrives. When we know it might show up at any given moment, if we truly know that its always a possibility, and understand  completely that our hard work, and our ideals about ourselves can crumble in the opening of a kiln door, then we are unafraid of it. We do it anyway, because Knowing that there is a risk of failure is part of the fun. There is no challenge in a predictably perfect outcome. That's so boring. Failure keeps you fresh.

Adapting this philosophy to other areas of my life, means that I am less aggravated by experiences that don't live up to my expectations. I expect a shit coffee 50% of the time, and enjoy it when I receive a perfect one. I expect customer service to be consistently bad, my food to arrive not exactly how I ordered it, I expect my telephone company will dick me around. I expect half of the things I do to work out, most of the people I know to disappoint me, and when that disappointment comes I can deal with it. When I fail at something I can learn from it. This doesn't mean I have to lower my standards, just be more realistic about how life truly is VS how I want it to be. 

Biting into that shitty floury apple is bound to happen, the question is what's your response to it?

How To Make A Paper Mache Tree

I know, it's something you've been wondering for a long time... "Just how am I going to make that paper mache tree??"

Well fear not... Mrs P is here to help solve all your paper mache tree problems.

Ok, First up, Get yourself a butt load of chicken wire and start making a trunk. I've made this tree in 2 parts so it's easier to transport. If it's gonna be big, then think about whether or not it's going to fit through the doorway... just saying!

Use the chicken wire to make a solid round trunk, then wrap it in cone shapes to form branches and roots, twist wire to the trunk to attach them and tie them as tight as you can.  The more secure your initial structure is, the better. 

And if you think that simply putting wet paper mache directly onto your chicken wire is going to work, think again! It's a total nightmare... it doesn't have anything to stick to. I used masking tape (and lots of it) to reinforce the branches and give the first layer of paper something to stick to. Imagine the tree has a broken arm and wrap the tape like a bandage around each turn.. you gotta wrap it tight, and tell the tree to stay calm, tell it who's boos (don't be afraid of any wire scratches).

When you slap on your paper, use lots of it, lots of layers. I started with big layers in the large areas and worked my way into smaller pieces with the branches and folds. My paper mache mix was PVA glue, flour and water... and salt to stop the mould from killing my tree. I dipped each piece in the mix and used a medium sized paint brush to coat both sides, then BAM! Onto the tree. I like to work quickly and then let the layer dry for a day or so. I was in a hurry, so I only did about 4 layers... if that.

The painting was a total pain in the ass. For some reason it took forever. Naughty me didn't seal it first, so the paint changed the texture of the tree and kind of shrivelled the paper.. not to worry.. I kind of liked how it looked, but if you wanna go deluxe, make sure the tree is TOTALLY dry before you start priming and painting. 2 coats of brown house paint did the job for me. I poked holes in the branches with a screwdriver (or sometimes drill) where I wanted the foliage to spring out from and used gorgeous bendy wire branches with silk leaves from a florist supply store. 

And last but not least... I added some fairy lights for that little twinkle... Who knows, you might even win first place at a craft show for your awesome creative skills.... 

Buckets Of Slop

The true meaning of getting your hands dirty, this weekend I spent both days cleaning out my pug mill and reconstituting old clay into beautiful new clay. 

If you're a potter you will know too well the feeling of avoiding those buckets of old scraps of clay. I keep telling myself I'll get to it one day... but it's only when I run out of clay that I am actually forced to do it. It's like having boxes of papers and receipts that you know you have to go through, but it's just so overwhelming!

Well... Christmas trade has already begun, and if I'm going to approach the silly season with a healthy attitude towards work, then I need to pull my finger our and get to work!!
And thus, the pugging begins...

This industrial machine is HEAVY, and it took Mr Peterson and his muscles and a crow bar to help me pull it apart. I hadn't used it in over 6 months, and so getting out all the dried bits of clay and washing the grates is essential. Did I mention how much I LOVE this machine? I'm in absolute awe of it's strength. It can do in a day what would take me a week to accomplish. Every time I use it, I always tend to make a remark about how it would crush a human hand in seconds... not because I think it will happen.. but just that it has the power to do so... it's a strong thing this pug mill. Respect.

So after a day and a half of making new clay, I have at least enough porcelain for a few good weeks of making. I still have more to process, so no doubt before Xmas, there will be another day of hard puggin', perhaps with margaritas... or is that a really bad ideas OH+S?

Be Brave, Live From The Heart..

It's something I struggle with everyday, the choice between doing what my heart says, and what my head tells me.

I think it's so common that we all do it subconsciously without even realising it. Yeah sure, the big choices always come from the heart, Who I fall in love with, what I do for a living etc.. but there are everyday choices that perhaps could be coming from a deeper place.

In order to do this I need to let go of the expectations of other people (weather they are there or just in my mind), and focus on what I know is best for my heart and soul. These past few years I have been making better decisions about how I spend my time (what time!? I say!!), but as the new year feels like it's quickly approaching, I am craving more and more space to myself and more and more time to reflect, have some peace and quiet and find better ways to relax into my life rather than fill it with more 'stuff to do'.

How indulgent it feels to even think about having more 'me' time. Time to be still, be silent and write in my journal again. Time to meditate, create and have picnic lunches in the grass with my dogs. 

I sometimes crave a hermit lifestyle. One where I live hidden in the woods with my Man where we lye around in hammocks all day eating peaches.... what bliss! 

We are so good at placing expectations on ourselves, I wonder why we feel the need to justify to one another how we spend our time? Is it enough that we exist, that we have families, work commitments, and a responsibility to take care of our health? We can put so much pressure on ourselves to be better, meet social expectations, always look fabulous and be a success... I'm thinking in this next coming year I want to empty my calendar, and fill my days with simple things like clay, cloud watching, reading books with cups of tea, writing, drawing, baking and spending more quality time in nature. 

I've been thinking this all week, and I wonder why I'm so obsessed with making hearts at the moment...  sometimes it takes a while for me to realise what I'm making, and what it's telling me. Or sometimes I just need to find enough silence so I can hear it speak.