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

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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.

jonathan adler goes to the dogs. thank goodness!

One of our favorite home designers has been lending his sharp skills to everything from toilet paper to makeup lines to handbags, and we have been wondering, is he spreading himself too thin? Luckily, he hasn’t abandoned the medium that made him a star — ceramics! — and has introduced a new critter to his delightful menagerie. Meet Jonathan Adler’s Terrier, available in white and black, starting May 1st for $138. We think he’d be the perfect wedding gift for a canine-obsessed couple.

snowbound pottery brings the sunshine in with delicate berry bowls and bud vases

Last week, when the frost was keeping the ground hard and our blooms hidden, we discovered Snowbound Pottery, a love-made design shop in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA that makes gorgeous, delicate vessels. Whether you use for your morning berries or first buds of the season, these hand-crafted porcelain clay pieces are delicate yet sturdy enough for everyday use. Creator Anna Kasablan has a way with words as well (she’s written 12 books) so we thought we’d let her tell us a bit about how Snowboard Pottery was born.

How did you began creating pottery?

In 2003, I began to work in bisque and then glaze after drawing for years. But I then wondered what I could do with raw clay. I took some lessons, and after five or six I realized I did not like the wheel, but LOVED working in my hand, or with minimal equipment to hand build what I could not form in my hand. There’s a wonderful creative freedom and surprise that came when I stopped concentrating on making things perfectly round and symmetrical.

I migrated pretty quickly to porcelain clay because I felt it would allow me to create unusual and unexpected forms that would be ultra thin.

We love your berry bowls. What was their inspiration?
That is a great little story. I was invited to do a trunk show in Marblehead, Ma at MacKimmie & Co. The owner, Doris asked if I ever considered doing a berry bowl. I hadn’t, but went home and created a bunch of individual berry bowls and decided to name them after her! My berry bowls were featured in House Beautiful in the July/August issue and have been a popular item since. I have expanded the berry bowl theme too, and now have Full Bloom berry bowls that recall flower blooms. I can make them with an under-dish but generally don’t because as single serving dishes they can look beautiful on any dish or china someone has—maybe even prettier.

Tell us a little bit about your technique.

Well, it all starts with a ball of clay in the palm of my hand, and then I just sit and keep working it into a shape with my fingers stretching and moving the clay. I do have a secret way to hold those wavey shapes, but I can say it’s absolutely nothing mechanical!

How do you recommend people use your pieces?
My bowls, trays, servers and now my newest Petal Pours are all food safe and can be used for anything—for storing a special ring or bracelet, floating flower buds across a table (instead of big bouquets), ice cream, jam or a poof of whipped cream. Or, as one customer did, lined up a row on her fireplace mantel. Not everyone can afford to spend thousands of dollars on art glass or ceramics, yet each of us appreciates it.

The big idea is to live with and use affordable art at your table, or in your daily life.

We couldn’t agree more. See more of Anna’s work and her gorgeous studio here.

a birthday mug worthy of an oscar: the lincoln from catherine’s table

Lincoln’s been having a quite a year and today, February 12th, is his birthday. Between public muses from Obama himself to Hollywood attention and hopeful Academy honors, you could easily say that he is the hottest politician of the moment. All the more reason to nab one of these hand-crafted mugs by Justin Rothshank from Catherine’s Table. Loosely wheel thrown, it has gentle nubs and dents for your fingers; each is a one-of-a-kind. But don’t worry, Abe ain’t delicate. This mug is sturdy and meant to be used every day. A special treat at $42. Order one now for your smart sweetheart before they are sold out. And don’t worry, if politics isn’t your thing, other mugs by the artist feature authors, poets, or musician icons.

we tried it: the verdict on pluck, the egg white separator

The Claim: Whether you’re separate your eggs because you’re trying to be healthy, or just because tiramsu is on the menu tonight, Quirky’s Egg Pluck gadget aims to take the sucky part out of pulling separating your yolks. They say that you simply place the gizmo over the yolk of an already cracked egg, squeeze the silicone chamber, and release to suck the egg yolk up into it.” Give Pluck another squeeze to release the yolk.

The Situation:
Egg cracking is not my strong point — I often get shell fragments or leave dribbles of egg whites behind in the bowl. My method of separating eggs is the one my mom taught me as a kid — crack the egg, then toss it back and forth in the two half shells, letting the white pour out while preserving the yolk. It more or less works, but I often crack the yolk, a drop of which can ruin a perfectly good egg white froth. After spotting Pluck on Quirky, I decided to give it a try.

The gadget itself is like a turkey baster without the tube. The small clear plastic opening unscrews from the white silicone part for easy cleaning. I followed the instructions. First, crack and egg. Then, while squeezing, place the Pluck on the yolk.

Presto! The yellow ball gets sucked into the blub.

Simply squeeze it again to release the bulb into another bowl.

The Verdict: The Pluck is $13 at Quirky, and for some it is a worthy a purchase. It does the job it says it does, and definitely makes the task of egg separating much cleaner. It’d be a fun stocking stuffer for your diet-focused friend, or a must-have for any meringue maker. However, if you don’t find yourself separating eggs too often, you can definitely live without.

Still Curious:
Visit quirky.com to see Pluck in action, and get the full story on its creation.