Studio, Gallery and Life: 83, There is a Return on Beauty


Do you know what ROI means?  It stands for Return on Investment.  If you purchase a stock at $10 a share and sell it for $15 a share plus earn a 2.4% dividend, then you will have a return on investment of $5.02 on each share of stock purchased. I believe that I receive a Return on Investment (or a Return on Beauty) when I purchase a beautiful handmade ceramic bowl or a gorgeous pair of boots. So, what does “return on beauty” mean to you?

I can’t help but think of buying a pair of expensive boots versus a pair of boots from Walmart.  The expensive boots I oil them, put waterproofing protectant on them; and even consider new soles for them over time.  The Walmart pair, I expect to replace each year. My expectations are low.  I slog around in them and don’t take care of them.  I will take care of the nicer pair.  I thought twice about the purchase and committed to them.  I admit it.  I have shoes that are more than 25 years old and store them in their original boxes.  They look brand new.  But, I digress.

So, how does buying a pair of really good quality boots connect to pottery.  For me it means, that I am going to use that piece of pottery. I will take great care of it and receive enjoyment from it for many years.  Possibly giving it to one of my children.  When, I visit a pottery studio or exhibit, I do actually ask myself, am I willing to pay this price for a cup that caught my eye?  I usually say “yes” and I never regret the decision.


Have you been cooking much in the last week?  I have been doing quite a bit lately.  It’s been fun.  One of my girlfriends made a version of Banana Foster this past week.  I tweaked it a bit for dinner with my parents this past weekend.  This is my version.

New Recipes:

Baked Bananas

2 bananas

1 T. Of White Wine Vinegar plus 1 tsp more.

1 T. rum

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 T. dark brown sugar plus 1 tsp more.

1 T. butter

Preheat oven to 400.

Peel bananas and slice in half lengthwise. Lay in buttered ovenproof dish.

Pour vinegar and rum evenly over bananas. Sprinkle the spices and brown sugar over the bananas. Dot each slice with slivered butter.

Bake for 15 minutes (or so until browned and sauce has thickened). Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt.

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture.

Other recipes to try:

Baked Pear Brie FlatBread

Spinach Mushroom Breakfast Casserole (no bread)

Apple Slaw

Avocado Shrimp Salsa


Holding a specific thing

is a very nice thing to do.

You are standing there

and you hold

an enormous cabbage.

Or a violin.

Or a bright balloon.

That is a job in and of itself.

The simple act of doing one thing.

(Poem and artwork by Maria Kalyan)

Woman holding petite pink cup

Grand Rapids Symphony

Over the last two weeks, I have attended a symphony and live theater musical. I feel so grateful to be able to sit in a performance hall enjoying every minute of the production.  Some days, I feel as though Covid never happened.  Then, I get a reminder of it, thinking about how just a year ago, we needed to show our vaccination cards to attend a concert.  Plus, wear masks in all public venues.  I still carry a mask in my purse.  Do you?


I have been so busy making mugs for friends/clients.  I love knowing that they enjoy using my cups.  Each cup takes a lot of time and attention to details.  Have I ever explained the steps that I take in making the cup that you hold?  Let me do that now:

First, I usually throw the basic form on a potter’s wheel.  Sometimes, I roll out a slab of clay, use a pattern, and then form the body of the mug.  If I throw it on the wheel, I usually throw in groups of eight or nine.  If I am hand building, I make in groups of 12.  For whatever reason, my attention span only lasts for 8 when sitting at the wheel.

Then, I wait for the mug to stiffen a bit (about a day under plastic).  I clean up the bottom edge of the mug.  Then, use a round roller stamp mimicking Lake Michigan’s waves.  I might softly square the mug.

Then, I take a chop stick and make two marks at the four corners.  North, South, East, and West.  I use either my life cycle stamp or the moon and waves stamp.  Each of these stamps I made from porcelain carving the design into the stamp.

Now, I pull handles.  One of the best things that I have discovered are damp boxes.  I will explain them another time.  They allow me to pull lots of handles at one time.  Then, store them in the damp box.  They stay the same consistency for many days.  This allows me to attach handles as I get the mug bodies ready.  Everything is covered in plastic for a day so that they are the same stage of dampness or dryness.  Then, I look at every mug, the size and shape of a handle, alter them if needed.  I add my ceramic stamp for a thumb rest and my chop mark on the bottom.

Now the finished mugs dry under old bed sheets for several days.  Then, off to the kilns for two firings and glazing in between.  Many times, I learn that my glaze bucket is low.  So, I head to the beach to collect sand for my signature glaze.  As, I write this, I am amazed at the steps in making one mug let alone 50.

Making handmade mugs

November 26th – December 17 in Douglas, Michigan.

You can find my Beach Vessels at the Ox-Bow House

benefiting Chicago Art Institute’s Summer School.

Winter Artists Market at OxBow Summer School for the Arts Gallery Douglas mi

I plan to be in Douglas on Saturday, November 26th, between 6-8pm.  I hope to see you there.

beach vessel slide show 4
beach erosion vase slide show 3
beach vessel 5
Beach vessel slide show 1

Next week is Thanksgiving.  I am grateful for the life that I have built filled with good friends, family, a warm home and studio.  Take care everyone, Cyndi

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