Lyla Kaplan Pottery
treadle wheel thrown
functional stoneware
dishwasher and microwave safe 
safe in the oven if allowed to cool

About my approach:  I throw on a treadle wheel and high fire in an efficient reduction kiln at home. Occasionally, I participate in a community woodfire.  Pottery was love at first sight on the first day of class in high school in 1985 -  As Mr. Smith kicked away on a treadle wheel magically transforming mud into a thing called a pot, he said "the wonderful thing about pottery is that it is so old that all over the world, it developed as an oral tradition before we had writing. This means that anything you learn is not yours to keep, it is yours to share."   

The gentle, steady kicking on the treadle wheel steadies and allows for centering the clay as a form of meditation.  Spirals are everywhere in nature and they happen naturally on the spinning wheel. I enhance the spirals by pressing a rib into the clay or by adding slip while the wheel spins, much like fingerpainting! Pottery acts as a conduit to connect us to our geological and historical past, to the present moment, to other people, and to the universe.

I focus on making work that DOES THINGS. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in  The Little Prince, "What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Pottery is a relationship between 2D imagery, 3D form, and emptiness – the invisible potential that an empty pot holds. Perceived through the senses, a pot being used can provoke a feeling that can be difficult to describe. Magic happens in the spaces between. In other words, pottery is felt and experienced when life happens, in use, with people, and alone. The experience can grow and change over time. 

Functional pots can become vessels for memory. For example, a large bowl that served something delicious during a memorable dinner party later becomes tied to that meaningful experience. A cradled mug that has helped someone find a moment of pause when they needed it then becomes a welcomed reminder to pause. In that way, a pot becomes animated, developing its own life. If a beloved pot breaks through use, it is comforting to know it served its function and lived a good life. 

Fire brings an element of the unknown to clay. Each firing involves a complex interaction between the claybody, glaze layers, time, temperature, and atmosphere (and the kiln dogs/gods). Fired clay is transformed, embodied energy forever marked by its spark in time that can last through the ages.

I look to clouds and rain as inspiration because together they are a metaphor for the beauty found inside of pain that comes from life.  

Earth/cloud, fire/rain, oxidation/reduction, internal/external, emptiness/fullness, happiness/sadness - it is the liminal, infinitesimal space in between that is essential.

"Humans are the only animals to have scalp whorls on the top of their heads "  - Dr. Sharad PaulAbout 🌀: Wikipedia, a journalist's article, a scientist's article  

About my firing: I first bisque in an electric kiln powered by home solar. I mix my own glazes and fire in an insulated, downdraft hybrid kiln that uses wood and propane (following Joe Finch's design). During claybody reduction (^010-05), I introduce discarded tomato and pepper stakes to remove oxygen in the kiln. Removing oxygen from the iron oxide in the clay (Fe2O3  to FeO) allows the beautiful iron blue hues to emerge through my white nuka-type glaze (  This glaze also responds to ash at that temp. The rest of the firing is in oxidation up to 2200° (^7). I switched to ^7 instead of ^10 because when I had my soda kiln, I discovered that clay and glazes in cooler spots were fine, and it's much more efficient. Kentucky Mudworks makes iron-bearing midrange clays that don't bloat at ^7-8. Slow-cooling at the end reoxidizes some of the iron and creates the Gohonde (firefly) spotting effect on a few pots. 

About buying my pots: I don't make pottery to make a living, but I do make pots to live. So my process is slow (I make "slow pots!"). Sometimes I do sell them, either on Etsy, via custom orders, or at local sales. Follow me on instagram if you'd like to know where I am setting up or email me lyla @ lylakaplanpottery dot com

If you would like to host an exceptional experience of pottery paired with food or drink, I can curate that. See old examples here (this website can only be seen via computer, not mobile).

Ceramics Monthly - Down to Earth - LK, 2006.pdf
An article in Ceramics Monthly about pairing food and functional art with community in art galleries.
The stand-up treadle pottery wheel on the cover of this very special book about the history of pottery (and abolition) is identical to the one I throw on. (Mine was made in Ohio in the 1950s). I also throw on a very old Leach treadle wheel.
I love that my plates are getting used at Letty's Tavern in Kennett Square, PA.
Even wedging clay produces 🌀.

"Mr. Smith," James Smith,  1988, instructing Kristy (Jenks) Cross at the treadle wheel in high school. It's the only picture I have of this dear dear man, may his memory be a blessing.

thanks for reading!