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giveaway! get to know mudshark studios & win a ceramic oil cruet

This giveaway is now closed

As a ceramic artist in Portland, OR, I began to hear about Mudshark Studios from friends in the clay community a few years back. It wasn’t until they began producing lighting for Rejuvenation (I used to work for them) in 2011, that I really fell in love with what they were doing. I had always been curious about ceramic production work and slip casting, so I decided that I had to learn more about the company and what they did.

Mudshark launched in 2006 and has been making waves in the design world since, not only attracting commercial clients like Kohler and Ann Sacks, but also working with individual artists and designers from all over the country. Co-founders Chris Lyon and Brett Binford set up the studio with a goal to educate others on product design, clay manufacturing methods, and provide a high quality finished product, while designing work of their own. Today, in addition to Mudshark, both artists pursue their personal creative interests in other businesses, like the Portland Growler Company and Bretton Sage Designs.

I caught up with Chris and Brett recently and thought it would be a treat to see what happens in their studio from day to day. Here’s a look at the magic of Mudshark…


Plaster molds are made of the original object, and slip is poured inside to make the desired shape.


Once a mother mold is created, Mudshark can make several molds to produce numerous items at once.


Each slip cast piece is finished by hand to clean up the seams and any imperfections that come through the process. In some cases the pieces are trimmed by hand on the potter’s wheel.


Once the cruets are cleaned up and leather hard, they are bisque fired before being glazed and fired a final time.

And just like that, you have a hand-made piece of Portland goodness, in the very functional form of an oil cruet.


Want a chance to win one of your own?
Hop on over to Brett’s design site Bretton Sage Designs and check out his olive oil and balsamic vinegar cruets. Then, come on back to Shelterrific and leave a comment telling us which one is your favorite. On April 1st, we will select a winner at random (no foolin’!) and send you the oil cruet of your dreams — compliments of Mudshark Studios and Bretton Sage Designs.

From our partners

get re-energized by design!

This is a sponsored post.

What is Re-Energized by Design, you ask? Well, it is an awesome web series that Shelterrific is excited to be participating in — produced by Puget Sound Energy, it’s all about incorporating energy efficiency into home design. The challenge is this: six teams of homeowners are paired with design coaches and together they compete to re-design 5 rooms with a focus on saving energy with a small budget. Cameras are documenting each leg of the challenge, and with every room one team gets the boot! The prizes are great: a home full of new LED and CFL lightbulbs from GE, a full suite of kitchen and laundry appliances from Frigidaire, and $5000.

I was fortunate to be paired with the Bedford family, who are just delightful. Kristen and her husband Slade have a great contemporary house, fun design aesthetic, and are really willing to completely put themselves into every challenge. This experience for me has literally been re-energizing to me as well, ending a year-long creative rut and getting me back into blogging and crafting and having fun again. I can’t wait to share what we’ve created together.

But as of today, I won’t have to wait much longer, as the first webisode is available at 6am PST at the Re-Energized By Design site — this week’s is an introduction to all the contestants. And stay tuned each week as we reveal another webisode. Also be sure to go to the Re-Energized page on Facebook, where you can enter to win a new Frigidaire appliance like those featured in the challenge!

From our partners

steal this idea: stacked end tables from hannah’s apartment on hbo’s girls

Watching HBO’s Girls makes me simultaneously relieved to no longer be in my yearning 20s, and also incredibly nostalgic for a time in my life when everything was unknown and yet anything was possible. But even in my former Girl state (i.e. a 40-something mom), I can’t help but be charmed by the whimsy of the decor. Hannah and Shoshanna especially have deliciously quirky and playful apartments that walk a fine line between childish and clever. (Much has been written about the sleek style of Charlie’s apartment, but like Marnie, I would find it claustrophobic.) One piece in Hannah’s apartment jumped out at me last night during the season finale. Instead of focusing on our poor heroine and her bout with OCD, I was zeroing in on the stack of end tables in the background. Like so many other things in Girls, it’s painted bright pink. It creates a great use of space and instant storage. All you would need would be four discarded Ethan Allen style tables (which are super common in yard sales or on eBay for as little as $30). The key would be to make sure they all had the same dimensions so the legs would balance properly. I’d a fix them with a strong proxy, and keep cats and kids away.

Any other Girls fans out there? Tell me what you love about the decorating style.

From our partners

my first raised vegetable garden: the materials

I spent most of my life in Ohio, so moving to the Pacific Northwest was a shock for this laissez-faire gardener, who used to just throw tomato seeds on the ground, then sit back and harvest all summer long, thanks to the hot weather and frequent storms. Our first summer in Seattle, I got a reality check: it was in the 60s most of the time, so my tomato plants just kind of did…nothing. Silly me. The disappointment put me off vegetable gardening for five years, with last summer moot as I wasn’t living here at all.

This year, I decided to finally learn to vegetable garden in Seattle. I knew this would take a lot of planning, and it seemed that raised beds were the key. Not only are they better in a cooler climate because the soil warms up faster above ground, they are easier to weed and, in my case, easier to keep out of range of two big, nosy dogs.

Cement Block It Is

After doing some reseplace, I realized that I didn’t have to go all spendy on (admittedly nice looking) wooden raised beds. Instead, I could simply use concrete blocks to put a bed together. I’ve been using this SHTF blog tutorial on building a concrete block raised bed as my guide. I love the idea of cement block because they’re heavy (so there’s not as much digging required, as “Ranger Man” at SHTF points out), they’re inexpensive, and you can even plant inside the holes in the bricks. We’re putting our beds in a section of yard that’s oddly shaped and not visible from our house, so it didn’t matter to me that the cement block wasn’t quite as pretty.

How Much Will Blocks Cost?

After measuring the space where our beds will go, I calculated what I might spend, figuring that prices at the Home Depot site were probably a good standard to follow. The typical 16″x8″x8″ blocks cost $1.32 each at Home Depot. If each bed was three blocks high, three blocks wide, and seven blocks long (exactly the same as the SHTF post, basically), for a total of 60 blocks, I would be spending about $80 a bed. That was more expensive than I had hoped, so I went to plan B:

Craigslist

I posted that I was looking for concrete blocks, and got two responses in less than a week: one from a man dismantling his old retaining wall (those are his aged blocks above) and one from a woman whose blocks were just a few years old — and all for free!

Scaling Back

I ended up with 60 blocks total, and we decided to try to break these into two smaller beds rather than keep trying to find more blocks for two bigger beds. Partially this is because I don’t want to burn myself out by taking on too much garden since it’s still a learning experience for me. Partially this is because, well, remember how I like the idea of concrete blocks because they’re heavy? Yeah, they’re heavy! Which means, they take some effort to transport. Our van just could not handle more than 30 blocks at a time — we really didn’t want to see how low we could make it sink onto the tires and still move forward. So we decided to call off the block seplace for now until we get what we have in some semblance of order. More to come!

From our partners

is this the lightbulb of our dreams? craving philips hue



We’re written about light bulb innovations before, but the new Philips Hue goes beyond anything we’ve imagined thus far. If it does everything that this video says it does, this LED light offers a full-spectrum of color shades that you can apply to your house with a touch of your finger. The entry cost is $200 for three bulbs, and with that you get an app that you download to your iPad, iPhone or Android. Once connected, you can control your mood lighting with a tap on your phone. Features include the ability to set wake-up lights that gradually come on in the morning, remote turn-on to have lights on even when you’re not there, and allowing you to grab a color from a photo and apply to the bulb. There’s a tone for reading, a tone for concentrating and a warm glow that recreates candlelight. We’re not entirely sold but would love to give it a try. For more info, check out Hue’s site.

From our partners