Sunday, January 26, 2014

Making pots at Donna & Keith Taylor workshop

Last Saturday I took a pottery workshop at the house of Donna and Keith Taylor in Fairfield, about 30 minutes from here.

Keith Taylor is the president of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) and has taught pottery workshops to SCSS members for the last couple of years. He is an accomplished potter and his creations are sought after by bonsai and caudiciform collectors worldwide.

Donna has been a potter most of her life and in recent years started to make a variety of objects out of recycled glass bottles. Visit her web site to see her wine bottle bowls, trays, and succulent containers.


Candy and Gerhard (photo by Keith Taylor)

I was one of three participants, the other being Candy of Sweetstuff’s Sassy Succulents and Anna of 4 Surya Garden. Candy and Anna focused on wall pocket planters for succulents and air plants while I made pots. Here are some photos of our combined output:



The white clay pots in the next photo are mine; the leaf-and-face wall pocket is Candy’s.


Here are my creations. The faces are from molds but the pots are all hand-shaped.





I may turn the faces into a mobile or wind chime


My favorite of the faces I made


Wall pocket made by Candy


Leaf patterns made with a metal tool designed to simulate fish scales


Finger nail pattern


Classic pinch pot


Letters from a box of alphabet noodles. The noodles will completely disintegrate during firing, leaving just the depressions.


Square pot with spiral decorations

Below is my pièce de resistance. It’s a very free-form pot made by pressing the rolled-out clay onto a railroad tie to make the pattern, forming a tube and then slamming the tube down on the table. Keith had demonstrated this technique, and while he got a very cool pot, I got something that looks like a dead tree stump from one of the Hobbit movies. Still, it’s unique and will work well as a planter for the right kind of plant. I’ll know what that is when I find it :-).


Donna and Keith will fire the pots when they’re dry and then we get to go back to their house to glaze them. I can’t wait!

Donna and Keith will teach more workshops at their house if there is enough interest. If you live in Northern California and would like to attend a workshop, please contact Donna at The workshops are reasonably priced and open to all skill levels. I have neither much skill nor experience, and see what I was able to make!


  1. Great job! Looks like it was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of Keith's pottery.

    1. Me too!! Keith's pots have a signature look that goes perfectly with succulents and caudiciforms.

  2. Awesome post of our fun time! I am working on mine! I will provide a link to yours. Hey can you send me a pic of your pots please. Of course you get photo credit. But I would like to show the folks your great pots!

    1. It was great fun doing it with you and Anna! I e-mailed you about the photos.

  3. Wish they lived near me in Australia :D

  4. So lucky to be able to do this, this always looks so fun!

    1. It is fun, especially once you let go mentally and quit worrying about making something "perfect."

  5. Okay, now you have me looking for used kilns. :)

    Next time I want photos of you using a pottery wheel.

    1. Alan, the thought (used kiln) went through my head for a split second before I squashed it like a bug. I-WILL-NOT-COVET-A-KILN.

      No pottery wheels were misused in the making of these pots. Using one would have felt too much like channeling Patrick Swayze in Ghost.