A russet colored coffee cup with floral decoration
Serving bowl with blue interior & floral design

Fine Mess Pottery

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Soda-fired* and garden inspired! Lori at Fine Mess Pottery seeks to nudge the world in a better direction, by adding a little joy to everyday rituals like preparing and serving food & drink.

While talking with a fellow potter the other day, I joked that we don’t have to worry about AI; our craft has been obsolete since before we were born. Machines have long been able to make ceramic dishware faster & cheaper than human hands. Why, then, do we do what we do?

Different answers for different potters, I suppose, but I do it because I want to nudge the world in a better direction. Life is mostly made up of ordinary things, and there’s nothing more ordinary than food & drink. If you can make the mundane tasks of daily life a little more joyful, life is overall uplifted.

That’s what I aim to do.

Slip-trailing – the method by which I create the floral imagery on the pieces – intrigues me because it records the luscious squishiness of slip in what becomes the adamantine solidity of ceramic. The flowers are sometimes recognizable, always stylized, in patterns that repeat but never identically, reminiscent of lace. The slip designs are delicate in appearance, but durable for millennia.

I choose soda firing to complete the process because it introduces an element of the random in work that might otherwise might feel too formal for daily use. I make the pieces carefully, decorate them even more so, then load them up and let the kiln have a go at them. I can still see the path of the flame on the finished ware. It’s like the kiln is a partner in the process, if sometimes a stubborn & opinionated one.

Squishy/solid. Delicate/durable. Formal/ spontaneous. I like contradiction. My phrase for it is aesthetic tension – when an artwork has qualities that speak of two contradictory ideas. Not that the eventual user will be aware of all this; not consciously, anyway. What I hope is to provide enough beauty and complexity to charm and engage them – to invite them to stay in the moment and enjoy their daily experience of using this ware.

*Soda firing is a type of stoneware firing wherein soda ash and baking soda are introduced to the flame when the kiln is nearly at its hottest. The heat of the firing splits the sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate (soda ash and baking soda, respectively) into their component elements, sodium and carbon. The flame carries this vapor into the firing chamber and onto the pots. The sodium interacts with the silica and calcium carbonate in the ware (as well any slips or glazes that have been applied to the ware) to form a layer of glass. It’s fired to a very high temperature – between 2200 and 2400 degrees fahrenheit – so it’s very durable.

Our Products Are Available At The Locations Below

Monkitree - Gardiner, Maine
Bayview Company - Saco, Maine
Maine Potters Market - Portland, Maine
Portland Pottery - Portland, Maine