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

About my approach:  I love pots. It was love at first sight on the first day of class in high school in 1985 -  Mr. Smith said, as he kicked away on a treadle wheel magically transforming mud into a thing called a pot, "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 me to focus on centering and is a form of meditation. 

The spinning wheel naturally creates spirals that I enhance with a rib pressed into the clay or with slip (like fingerpainting!). When my son was three, we were on the train where he pointed out that everyone had spirals on their heads. I looked it up! While all mammals have whorls, only humans have them on their heads!  

Pottery helps me contemplate and connect to our geological and historical past, to the present moment, to other people, and to the universe.

I stick to making work that DOES THINGS because the added element of function in art is so darn cool. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in  The Little Prince, "What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Pottery is not just about the 2D imagery or 3D form, it's also about the idea of emptiness and its potential to be used. Perceived through the senses, a pot being used can provoke a feeling that can be difficult to describe. Magic happens in the space 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 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. 

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

I find clouds endlessly inspiring. For the past few years, I have been using rain clouds as metaphor for the joy found inside of pain that comes from life. I will continue pursuing that as long as it feels authentic.  

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: My pots are initially bisqued in an electric kiln powered by home solar. They are then glazed and fired 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. 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. Sometimes I get lucky to participate in community woodfirings. 

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!