When you are taking product shots it is best to use a simple, neutral background. Professional photographers will generally use a lightbox to photograph products however you do not need one in order to get great results. Set your pottery infront of a neutral coloured wall or lay out a white tablecloth to set your pieces on for the product shots. A simple, neutral background will allow for easier photo editing and cropping out the background. If your handmade pottery happens to be white, use a contrasting colour as your background, ie. a grey wall, dark table or coloured tablecloth. When the foreground (your pottery) is easily discernable from the background then photo editing software will have a much easier time detecting and removing the background from the photo.
When taking lifestyle photos, experiment with your background using different textures and materials such as wood, fabric, stone, etc. You can use a tablecloth, wallpaper or a piece of satin to set your background. Or considering your gleaming kitchen backsplash or maybe your garden. If you have the capabilities to use ‘Portrait Mode’ this is a beautiful option for highlighting the foreground (your pottery) by blurring the background.
Consider purchasing flat lay backdrops for an easy way to achieve a professional, stylized look. Easily and affordably available from Amazon, these offer alternative backgrounds beyond your home.
PRODUCT SHOTSLighting is one of the most important aspects of photography and good lighting can really change how your product looks. White lighting is the best for accurately displaying the colours of the glaze. I highly recommend purchasing photography lights if you do not have a room in your home that has bright white lighting with an appropriate space for photographing. Otherwise, the next best thing is natural sunlight. Try to find a spot with soft sunlight as stronger sun is more likely to cause shadows. Whether using photography lights or natural lighting, make sure of the following:
- Try to avoid any shadows falling onto the pottery that would obscure the colour and/or design
- Try to avoid any reflection off of the glaze
- Never photograph in low light or yellow light. This will make your pottery appear dull and potentially appear a different colour than it truly is.
Consider a set of photography lights. Personally, I use this set from Amazon.ca. They are easy to use and easy to store.
When taking lifestyle photography shots of your handmade pottery I recommend following the same instructions as the above when it comes to lighting. You can play a little bit more with shadows, etc if you are going for an artsy look but I recommend keeping it simple if you are a beginner.
Ensure that the entire piece of pottery is within the camera’s frame. If your pottery has an intricate detail/design take an additional photo as a closeup. Avoid having your hands in the photo (ie. holding the pottery bowl or pottery plate) and instead, utilize lifestyle images in order to show size and dimension of your pottery piece.
If you have the opportunity to do some further research, there are some great videos out there on flat lay photography. It is perfect for showcasing functional pottery. Flat lay photography is a birds eye view of the product that is taken directly from above or at a slight angle.
You can play with colour and texture by adding ‘props’ to your images. These are excellent for helping the customer understand the size of your pottery piece, whether it be a pottery mug or platter. The best lifestyle photos will feature ‘props’ that relate to the piece such as coffee with a mug or appetizers with a platter but even just a piece of fruit on or next to the piece will be a great help.
Flat lay photography isn’t the only way to stage a lifestyle photo – considering setting your pottery up in it’s ‘natural habitat’ – a garlic keeper on a kitchen counter. The best selling pieces are usually the ones that feature a picture showing the piece in use. Customer’s can easily imagine it in their own homes!
Take photos against neutral backgrounds and ensure the entire piece is within the frame.
Flat Lay Backdrops
This image features a "concrete" backdrop as the base and a "marble" backdrop as the background.
Utilize household items to show your pottery in use. This will help shoppers picture it in their own home.
SEASON IN CANADA.
Strawberry season has arrived! Grown in every province across the country, Canadian strawberries are at their peak in June and July. You can expect an earlier arrival in British Columbia as they bloom across the country.
Consider purchasing a handmade ceramic berry bowl from a local Canadian potter. Our pottery berry bowls offer a beautiful and functional design allowing you to rinse and drain your berries and take them right to your table.
FUN FACTS ABOUT STRAWBERRIES
🍓 Strawberries are the only fruit that have their seeds on the outside
🍓 Strawberries aren’t actually a ‘berry’ but a ‘multiple fruit’. To be classified as a berry, the seeds must be on the inside
🍓 Strawberries belong to the Rose flower family and give off a sweet scent
🍓 According to Wikipedia, “In 2019, world production of strawberries was 9 million tonnes”
🍓 Strawberry plants will grow back next year, lasting up to 5 years
Drain & Serve with Pottery
A berry bowl is the best way to rinse, drain, store and serve your local berries! Our handmade ceramic berry bowls have holes to allow for the water to drain when rinsing and the holes allow air to circulate which is important when storing your strawberries to ensure optimal freshness.
PLANTING & CARING FOR STRAWBERRY PLANTS
HOW TO PICK STRAWBERRIES
The best time to pick strawberries is in the morning while the berries are cool. You will want to be careful not to squish the delicate berry. Carefully pinch the green stem between thumb and index finger and break the stem; ensure you leave the cap on the berry and refrigerate immediately.
It is recommended not to rinse your strawberries until you intend to enjoy them as rinsing cut strawberries will speed up the spoiling. A berry bowl is the best way to rinse, drain, store and serve your local berries! Our handmade ceramic berry bowls have holes to allow for the water to drain when rinsing and the holes allow air to circulate which is important when storing your strawberries to ensure optimal freshness. The majority of our pottery berry bowls come with a plate to catch any water drippings and keep your table dry.
Celadon Berry Bowl
HOW TO MAKE A STRAWBERRY ROSE
Looking for a unique, gorgeous way to serve your strawberries? Or looking for a romantic alternative to the traditional chocolate-covered strawberries? Why not try creating a bouquet of strawberry roses! Find easy to follow instructions here: https://sortedfood.com/recipe/3807
Taking the time for self-care is more important now than ever before. Below you will discover my idea of self care involving all Canadian products. Enjoy taking a day for yourself - from gardening to yoga to napping in the perfect robe, we have the perfect self care Sunday planned for you.
This soft bamboo robe from Hillcroft Housecoats might just be my favourite self-care purchase of the year
My self-care Sunday starts with a little early morning gardening. Gardening is hard but satisfying work and it keeps my mind quiet. I love watching it grow and improve year over year. It is also a learning experience for me as this is only my 3rd year at my house. Some plants flourish and some fail. I'm learning when and where the sun shows its face to my yard; how full the trees bloom, at which point in the season and how far they cast their shadow. My favourite plants are definitely my roses - real leather gardening gloves are a saving grace when tending to these - and Dwarf Asiatic Lilies although I have yet to keep these alive (our resident groundhog loves to eat them). I find being in the garden a practice of gratitude as I'm grateful the whole while for the life that will sprout from my work, for the beauty it will graciously provide, for the quiet that the work provides.
Time to Garden
Yesterday I purchased this season's flowers, including these Dwarf Asiatic Lilies, from my favourite greenhouse, Terra Waterdown.
Next up is some ever-relaxing yoga. I used to go to Modo Yoga and De La Sol Yoga when the world was open and through those classes I learned the poses that I enjoy and that help ease ache in my muscles the most. I was very skeptical when I first tried yoga, almost hostile to the idea that I would like it. But it didn't take me long to get hooked. I especially enjoy (and dearly miss at the moment) hot yoga. The hot room feels like a spa, my flexibility is instantly increased, and it puts me to sleep almost immediately as I recover in Shavasana. Now that studios are shuttered due to Ontario lockdowns, I try to make my home yoga routine as 'spa-like' as possible.
To help with that, I light my hand-poured, wood wick candle from Illumi Candles. The coolest part? The candle is in a hand-crafted coconut bowl made from real coconuts! The wood wick is such a lovely touch as it sounds like a real fire when lit. I picked the scent of Tahitian Vanilla with Mixed Bouquet and I have no regrets. If I close my eyes I can hear the wind in the palm trees and waves rushing the beach. Oh how I wish I was doing yoga on a far-away beach instead of in the dining room with the cats crowding my mat! At some of the classes I took at Del La Sol Yoga, the teacher would apply peppermint essential oil to the students' necks at the end of class in Shavasana and it became my favourite part of the class. To recreate this experience, I picked up a Peppermint Halo roller from Saje Natural Wellness. At the end of my routine, I roll it onto either side of my neck and then relax into Shavasana, breathing in the zingy scent.
The Tahitian Vanilla transports me to an exotic beach vacation.
This handmade porcelain mug from Lana Rayman, a Toronto-based potter, is a perfect fit (cat not included)
Peppermint halo is my favourite roll-on.
Dirty from gardening and sweaty from yoga, I'll have a shower and spend the rest of the day relaxing in the epically soft bamboo robe from Hillcroft Housecoats which might just be my favourite self-care purchase of the year. I pretty much never want to get dressed these days. I won't bother to do my hair, it will go back into the same messy bun from this morning but its cuter than ever because of the adorable scrunchie from Me&You Handmades. Their newly released, limited edition Spring collection is incredibly fun with new prints and colours. Scrunchies are back in style and for good reason!
With my feet up, I'll enjoy a "pretty pink latte" from Blume in my belly-shaped, handmade pottery mug from Lana Rayman Pottery. I love the belly shape of this handmade, porcelain mug as it feels so comfortable in my hands. The feather design adds a whimsical interest to the classic white porcelain. The Beetroot Blend latte is actually quite delicious and this is coming from someone who is not usually a fan of vegetables in any form! But this latte is perfect for a post-garden, post-yoga morning as the beets, rich in nitrates, antioxidants and vitamins, support post-workout recovery.
But what is a good latte without a sweet snack? I pair it with Coconut Clusters that came in my Goodfood box this week and could literally be the only treat I ever need to eat again, they're that good. Plus, organic and full of seeds makes me feel like its ok to eat the whole bag in one sitting. And now I'll catch up on episodes of The Handmaids Tale and probably fall asleep on the couch when the afternoon sun casts too strong a glare on the TV.
You might have seen the beautiful scrunchies handmade by Me&You Handmades in my All Canadian Mother's Day Gift Guide. I came across their adorable hair accessories as I was searching for local Canadian businesses to include in the Gift Guide. As soon as I saw that they were a Mother/Daughter Duo, I wanted to hear more about their story.
I had the chance to chat with Hilary to learn more about what inspires her and her Mom, how they got started and how a business relationship affects the personal (and vice-versa).
How did you get started with your business?
Ever since I was little, I've always loved arts and crafts and making things with my hands. My parents enrolled me in every artsy camp/class they could find. As I got older I started crocheting and loved that I was able to do it while I watched tv. I'd watch my weekly after school shows and by the time they were all over I'd have a crocheted infinity scarf. After years and years of making things, my stock pile started to bust at the seams and I had friends and family ask if I would ever sell my stuff. I never thought anyone would buy my creations as I just did it all for fun. Then one Christmas, my work decided to have a pop up in the office for all us artsy gals to sell our handmade goods. I thought I would give it a try and after I sold my very first item, I was hooked. That night, Me & You Handmades was born!
What are some of your inspirations?
Mom and I both get inspirations from basically everywhere. Social media, commercials, being out and about shopping, our brains are always working and thinking of new ideas. We would see something on tv or in a magazine and we would come up with ideas on how to alter it to make it better.
What is your favourite piece to make/wear?
One of my favorite pieces to make, which we don't carry currently but I do absolutely miss are our crocheted pieces. Specifically our crocheted toques. I loved being curled up on the couch and racing against a movie to see if I could finish the toque in time. And then staring at the pattern and feeling the texture of the stitches.
How does working together affect the mother/daughter relationship? How does the mother/daughter relationship affect the business relationship?
My mother and I are very similar in a lot of ways. We both have the same work ethic, we're both very passionate when it comes to design and we both appreciate the process of unique handmade items. We both have different styles and we work together to create a perfect balance of designs and items we feel our customers would love. Being that both of us are very creative individuals and we love what we do, it doesn't affect our business relationship at all. We both feel like we're just playing arts and crafts all day long and almost forget that we're running a real business.
What do you appreciate about each other’s work?
Mom is very detail oriented. Down to how straight her stitches are. She is very meticulous and I absolutely appreciate that about her. I'm a very quick learner. I pick up techniques and processes very quickly so I'm able to help my Mom in a pinch whenever she needs me.
Who handles which part of the business?
I actually handle the majority of the business where my Mom helps me sew a lot of our items. She is our Box Bag Queen. I went to school to be a Graphic Designer and grew up either being around or doing a lot of crafty things. I handle all our social media, website, designs, customer care, photography, shipping and ordering. A Jackie of all trades if you will.
Who first had the idea to launch your business?
It was my idea to launch the business but I had the help of friends and family to push me that extra mile to actually do it.
How does your style differ from each others?
When it comes to designs and creations of actual items, both my Mom and I have similar styles. The differences hit when it comes to fabrics and patterns. I like the more trendy, chic, modern, patterns where Mom gears towards the more timeless, classic, vintage patterns. We might have lost sleep a few times over fabric choices.
I recently had the opportunity to get to know the amazingly talented Mother/Daughter team behind The Clay People from Weyburn, Saskatchewan. All of their pottery is handbuilt in a small studio on their farm in the Canadian prairies. Featuring finely detailed textures and designs, each piece is hand-built and always unique. If you don't have a piece from The Clay People already in your pottery collection, well, you should fix that.
It all started in 2016 when Mary took a small pottery workshop through her school. She loved it and wanted to continue working with clay however she wasn't yet old enough to drive. So she asked Mom - Lynn - if they could join the local pottery club together in Weyburn. They did and they both really loved it. By the time Mary had finished high school, her and her Mom had a small studio building set up at the farm and it turned into a full-time operation.
Ever since Mary had her first class she knew that she wanted to be a full-time potter and she encouraged her Mom Lynn to pursue it with her, even though Lynn would have been content to remain a hobby potter. The amazing accomplishments that The Clay People have made would have been difficult for only one person to accomplish but this Mother/Daughter team has executed their business expertly.
But it's not always fun in the mud - there is so much more to running a successful pottery business. Playing to each other's strengths, they've divided the administrative work of running a business between the two of them. Lynn is familiar with bookkeeping (as they are farmers) so keeps on top of the financial aspects as well as ordering supplies, answering emails, and writing product descriptions for the website. Mary handles the social media channels, arranges all photography and takes care of the customer service inquires that flow through social media. Mary also takes the lead on deciding what is needed for the next website update. But both of them create.
Inspired by textures and nature, other clay artists and Pinterest trends, Mary and Lynn handbuild each piece. This means there is no wheel work and leads each piece of pottery to be truly unique. While pottery mugs are their favourite piece to make (because the shape is so universally useful and fun; because between sizes, textures, glazes no 2 mugs will look the same), they are always trying new things and they never get bored.
Mug production requires Lynn and Mary to work together but beyond that, they often work alone in the small studio. Lynn tends to make a lot of smaller things such as bowls, mini mugs, hearts and bag tags. Mary tends to make multiples of the same thing and can get a terrific amount of things done when working in the studio. While they can (mostly) tell who made what, it is unlikely others could distinguish the potter behind the piece.
Working with family isn't always easy but for The Clay People it has been a very positive experience both personally and professionally. They may not be in agreement 100% of the time but they really enjoy working together and its clear from their beautiful pottery that they work well as a team! I asked them what they appreciated about each other's work and here is what they had to say.
While working side by side, Lynn and Mary enjoy chatting about pottery and life or finding peace in a companionable silence. They try to talk about any issues as they come up "as when you live close, work together and are family, you don't want to let issues get big."
As other potters will understand, when you are passionate about your work, it can become very consuming. The Clay People find it easy to spend their time thinking about what was accomplished that day, what they want to do tomorrow and hopes for the future. But striking a work/life balance is important so when away from the studio, Lynn and Mary try to focus on other things that aren't pottery.
It is clear to me that this Mother/Daughter duo is quite unstoppable and I'm excited to watch their business, their technique and styles continue to grow and flourish. Follow them on social media and/or subscribe to their newsletter so you are always in the know of when their next online restock will be. Pieces don't last long!
As we all know, e-commerce has been booming since the pandemic and carriers have been overwhelmed with the volume of packages. Do you remember last April when Amazon cancelled Prime delivery?! I have hopes that the system is better poised to handle the volume of online orders this year but it is still best to shop early, especially with another lockdown across Ontario and other parts of the country.
Another gifting period – Mother’s Day – is upon us and we don’t want to let Mom down! Here are some tips and tricks to ensuring your gifts arrive on time, no matter where you shop!
- Support your favourite local stores - while they may be closed for in-person shopping, many are offering curbside pickup. Check their website and social channels to see if this is available.
- When shopping online, look at the company’s shipping policy page and try to determine where the goods ship from. If it is international, account for an additional week for Customs Clearance delays and review if Duties will be due at time of delivery.
- Allow for processing time. Delivery timeframes usually do not include the time it takes to pick and pack the order. Depending upon the company, this can usually take 1-3 business days.
- Be vigilant of shopping from Marketplaces such as Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart. Always check who the Seller is - if it is not the retailer, the package could be shipping from anywhere which could result in longer delivery timeframes.
- When Canada Post is overwhelmed, sometimes a package is not scanned even though it is on the move. Allow a few days to see an update. If there is no movement after 3 business days, call Canada Post. A "lost" package is often found after a call has been placed to Canada Post.
- If you have your tracking number, it will be faster to call the carrier yourself. Also send an email to the company you purchased from so that they can follow up on your ticket with the carrier.
- Pay attention to the return policy, especially on Marketplaces and the Seller's return policy can differ from that of the Retailer. Can you return to the store or does it have to be mailed? If mailing, always used a tracked service. The tracking number will provide proof of delivery to ensure your refund.
- When shopping with The Northern Kiln, click on the Canadian Potter's name to be taken to their collection page. This will list their location and where the pottery is shipping from. The majority of our orders are processed within 24 hours although we do allow our potters 3 business days to prepare and pack the order and deliver to Canada Post.
- Consider adding Route protection insurance to your order of handmade Canadian pottery. This offers an extra layer of protection against lost, stolen or broken packages.
- Take advantage of our offer of free shipping on your first order with promo code W1S7QYFEN8QC
If you have any other shipping questions when purchasing handmade Canadian pottery through The Northern Kiln, please read our Shipping Policy or email us directly at email@example.com
What to buy Mom is a whole other problem, if you aren’t sure what to get, check out our Mother's Day Gift Guide.
Have you ever wondered why you feel the desire to clean and organize the home every April? I'm sure the longer and warmer days along with the increased intake of vitamin D from the Spring sunshine have something to do with it but it is also tradition. According to Wikipedia, "some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khaneh tekani (Persian: خانهتکانی; literally "shaking the house") just before the Persian new year."
This season of Spring cleaning finds me living in a larger home than my last (1500 sq ft vs 460) which means a lot more cleaning! At least I have more storage space to cram all the junk I don't need but can't part with into 😂.
Ever since beginning my entrepreneurship journey, I've learned that there are so many fascinating Canadian companies out there making all kinds of products that we don't even consider. So instead of going to the grocery store and picking up a typical Lysol product I decided to do some research and I found exactly what I was looking for.
Canadian Made Cleaning Products
Having a countertop Utensil Holder is key for me when it comes to the kitchen. I've tried storing all my large cooking utensils in a drawer to keep the countertops free of clutter but it's just not practical when I'm maneuvering between boiling pots and pans. So I picked out a beautiful handmade, ceramic utensil holder from Jane Snider Pottery (📍Ottawa, Ontario). Who knew a utensil holder could garner so many compliments?! To fill my utensil holder, I picked up this beautiful set of handcrafted kitchen utensils from PEI Wooden Spoon (📍Summerside, PEI). The very cool thing about these spoons is that they were baked in a kiln just like the utensil holder! The 'thermal-modification process' gives the wood its dark colour.
Another key item in my kitchen is the stovetop Spoon Rest. I'll admit, I'm a very messy cook. You don't want to see my kitchen post-meal 🤦. I swear, if I didn't have a spoon rest then my whole stovetop would be covered in sauce! Having a ceramic spoon rest leads to easy clean-up because I can just pop it in the dishwasher with the rest of the mess. I asked Jane if she could make me a custom pottery spoon rest to match my new fern utensil holder and it turned out beautifully.
How many of you have googled how to store garlic? 🙋 Some store it in the fridge, others in the pantry, some in a paper bag, some in a Garlic Keeper. You should forget the fridge because it turns out that the best way to store garlic is actually at room temperature in a dry, dark place. Never use plastic wrap as it is not breathable and will shorten the garlic's lifespan! An open paper bag or mesh bag in your pantry will work but a Garlic Keeper is best. It provides a dry, dark space for your garlic right on the countertop so you have garlic on hand when cooking instead of having to find it in your pantry. I picked out this gorgeous garlic keeper from aSpire Pottery (📍Hamilton, Ontario) that is delicately designed with garlic scapes and could be considered fine art. That's what I love most about pottery - it is functional art!
Something I still need to tackle? How to clean the oven. Certainly not something I am looking forward to and I've been putting it off for too long. Do you clean your oven with store bought cleaner or the DIY baking soda and vinegar solution? Either one will need time to sit in the oven to work its magic on the grime, grease and build-up. Might as well browse our extensive collection for more functional pottery while we wait.