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High Priestess Dishes
 

INSPIRATION

These dishes were made for a special ink-themed dinner held by Filigree Suppers in late October. I was feeling witchy/gothic/dark/sexy vibes when I was brainstorming what to make.

Right off the bat, I wanted to make a low bowl because they’re extremely versatile for serving since they hold varying levels of sauces or broths. A low bowl also offers opportunities for high drama since the sides reach much higher than that of a regular plate—visual stimulation on multiple planes.

I recently finished a commission of small lotus dishes for the ACLU Next Generation Foundation that used cut rims to form lotus flower shapes. While I love this shape, the ebb and flow of grooves and points creates a positive and balanced energy to my eye and I wanted a moodier feeling for this Inked Supper. More tumult needed.

 

PROCESS

These bowls start, as most pieces at Monsoon Pottery do, on the wheel as a lump of clay. I throw a low bowl that’s about 9” in diameter and trim it once it’s dry enough.

I tried recording some video of the process to give everyone an inside peek. I clearly don’t take video often so these clips are all in portrait mode. I neglected to turn off my music for the video but I wanted to keep the sound so you can hear the clay thuds and cuts. Hopefully it’s still a good watch! Here are the steps it goes through:

  1. Drawing the rim design - I freehand this with every dish so that each piece doesn’t turn out exactly the same.

  2. Cutting out the rim design

  3. Cleaning up the edges with a vegetable peeler

  4. Cleaning up the areas where the curves meet each other

  5. Smoothing the edges with a sponge

Eliminating the tips from a lotus dish design gave me the look I wanted. Instead of the balanced ebb and flow of energy, I feel energy endlessly building and charging the dish.

So, why a hexagon? A couple of reasons: they occur often in nature and the six-sided geometry created just the right amount of drama for a bowl this size. I tried making one with eight-sides about halfway through production and the outcome was strangely underwhelming.

The finished dishes drying and awaiting their first firing.

The process from here is pretty standard. The dishes were bisque fired to 1830 degrees Fahrenheit and then I hand-dipped them in glaze. The last step was firing them a second time to 2350 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the plates came out of the kiln I felt a moody power from them that immediately called to mind a high priestess. The High Priestess in the tarot deck is a mediator between the dualities of nature; good and evil, negative and positive, masculine and feminine. She is the midpoint between two pillars and represents equal opportunity to learn from each.

The tenmoku pieces (the shiny black ones) especially communicate this delicate tension between the masculine and feminine. I’d like to think Mick and Stevie would like these dishes.

The High Priestess holding cold squid in pasta, crab salad, enoki mushrooms, yuzu, and sesame.

 
Spicy Yuba "Noodles"
 

Spicy yuba “noodles” in a teal low bowl with small lip.

I noticed an inkling of interest about this dish when I posted this photograph on Instagram so I thought I’d include the recipe here for those who want to try it. It’s adapted from the Asian Tofu cookbook by Andrea Nguyen printed in 2012.

I’ve shortened the recipe to work with the yuba (tofu skin) you can find from Phoenix Bean Tofu. I got mine from their stand at Green City Market. I will note that you should make this with thin soy sauce, which is different from the generic soy sauce that you get from an American grocery store. You can find the thin soy at Asian grocery stores (look on the back for the English label).


Spicy Yuba “Noodles”

8oz fresh yuba
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sake
2 tbsp thin soy sauce
1 tbsp unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 to 1-1/2 tbsp Chile Oil, with or without chili flakes (I used LaYu)
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp thinly sliced green onion, green parts only

  1. Separate the sheets of yuba the best you can and stack. Slice into 1/2” strips along the long side of the sheet. Rolling the sheet makes this easy. Loosen the threads with your hands so they resemble noodles.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, sake, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil. Stir the sugar in until it’s dissolved and set next to the stove.

  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat and add half the noodles to sear, undisturbed for 10-15 seconds at a time. Cook for 1-2 minutes until they’re soft and slightly stuck to themselves. Transfer into the bowl with the sauce and repeat with the remaining oil and noodles.

  4. Once all the noodles are in the bowl, mix them with the sauce and then return them to the skillet for about 2 minutes, stirring until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Stir in the green onion and stir to distribute.

  5. Let the noodles cool for about 5 minutes before eating. They’re good hot, cold, or at room temperature.

 
Danielle ChutinthranondComment
On Minimalism
 
Photo by  Jack Li

Photo by Jack Li

So, this is me in what I consider to be "a lot of look," wearing a new hat with one of my favorite coats. I'm a bit of a minimalist and believe in owning a few high quality items I can use daily. It's no coincidence that I bring the same values to Monsoon Pottery. Sometimes friends will visit my studio, pick up one of my seconds and say, “what exactly is wrong with this?” and I respond with a problem that’s imperceptible to them. 

Minimalism puts you in a mindset of, “why should this have a place in my life,” which, as a result, drives my quality standards to a potentially unhealthy extreme. Instead of making work around the idea of what might be fun for the season, I’m thinking about how I hope my pieces will be inherited through generations of families as treasured heirlooms.

Sometimes it feels crazy to contextualize my work on such a long timeline but it would honestly make me feel so bad if a piece of Monsoon Pottery wasn’t perfectly beautiful, functional, and durable for you. If it doesn’t show up for you 100% every day, it’s disposable. 

 
Night Sky Mugs
 

INSPIRATION

Have you ever noticed how clear the night sky looks in winter? There's actually two reasons why--the first is that colder temperatures make it harder for the atmosphere to hold moisture and the second is that we (in the northern hemisphere) face the outside spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy in the winter. In the summer we face the center of the galaxy which is far more dense with stars.

These two effects combine to create vivid night sky viewing conditions in the winter. I'm fascinated by the universe and stargazed regularly growing up in upstate New York; a hobby that eventually led to studying Physics and Astrophysics in college. I know. I pivoted. Hard.

After the production madness surrounding the holiday retail season I needed to work on a passion project to bring me back to sanity. I notice the superior stargazing conditions every winter and wanted to design a mug that captures that beauty. 

 

PROCESS

One of my favorite techniques is sgraffito--carving a surface away to reveal a surface with a contrasting color beneath--and it's perfect for creating the effect of point-like sources of light shining through a vacuum of darkness.

I throw each mug starting with a cylinder of porcelain clay on the wheel. After drying for a few days in a damp environment, I trim it on the wheel to smooth and remove excess weight from the bottom. Before I start trimming I pull handles for all of the mugs so they can dry while I trim. Once all the mugs are trimmed and the handles have dried to leather hard, I attach each handle by hand to the cylinder by scratching the joints and "glueing" the pieces together with slip (liquid clay). 

Sgraffito [is] perfect for creating the effect of point-like sources of light shining through a vacuum of darkness.

I wanted to leave the exterior unglazed for a rougher texture on the hand so I made slip with the same porcelain clay and dyed it with black mason stain. I painted three coats of this black slip on each mug. Once they completely dried, I etched the stars into the mugs to reveal the white porcelain beneath the black slip. 

Each one signed. Each one unique. 

I tried to carve stars on every handle. 

The process from here is pretty standard. The mugs were bisque fired to 1830 degrees Fahrenheit and then I applied a silky black glaze only on the interior. Then I fired them a second time to 2350 degrees Fahrenheit to finish. 

When I took the mugs out of the kiln I noticed some bubbling on the unglazed exterior where I applied the black slip. This is a sign that my mason stain concentration was slightly too high; however, after sanding the exteriors down, it created a very interesting crater texture. If the moon were small enough to hold in your hand, I like to think it would feel like these mugs.

Like all Monsoon Pottery wares, these mugs were a labor of love and totally worth it. 

 
Persimmon Old Fashioned
 
If you'd like to recreate this scape at home, shop our  cocktail set . 

If you'd like to recreate this scape at home, shop our cocktail set

I never expected so much interest in the cocktail recipe when I posted this photo on Instagram but I guess it makes sense. Chicago has gone full Chiberia in the last couple of weeks and there's nothing that warms up your insides like a glass of hard booze. 

I love persimmons and I love cocktails but some winter cocktail recipes are a little much. I'm sure this cocktail would taste better if you made a syrup with the cinnamon and star anise (and you're welcome to do just that) but I like to get a taste of the season with more or less the same process of a classic old fashioned. 


Persimmon Old Fashioned Recipe

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • One slice of very ripe persimmon, peeled. 
  • 1 teaspoon of light brown or brown sugar
  • Dashes of Angostura bitters, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon tart orange juice like satsuma or lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz whiskey or rye
  • Giant ice cubes

Method

  1. Peel a very ripe persimmon with a paring knife and slice it crosswise to reveal a star shape in the center. 
  2. Place one slice in the bottom of a mixing glass and place the mound of brown sugar on top. 
  3. Drop the bitters onto the sugar--we like to use just enough to moisten all the sugar. 
  4. Muddle the persimmon slice, sugar, and bitters until all the sugar is dissolved. Take your time. 
  5. Add the orange juice, whiskey (we used Koval), and one giant ice cube. Stir for 1-2 minutes to melt the ice slightly. 
  6. Place a fine mesh cocktail sieve over a rocks glass with a fresh ice cube and strain the mixture into the glass.*
  7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a dried star anise. 

* I'm not so fussy as to strain our regular old fashioneds but persimmon has a viscous texture and the pulp detracts from the taste of the cocktail. 

 
Holiday Pop-Up Schedule
 

'Tis the season, friends. You'll have many opportunities to shop Monsoon Pottery in Chicago this holiday season and we'll be creating special pieces that will be sold exclusively at our pop-ups. Check back regularly for updates! 


MONSOON POTTERY HOLIDAY POP-UP SCHEDULE

 

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Thanks for coming!

Past Event

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 25, 11AM-7PM, Small Business Saturday
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26, 12PM-6PM, Holiday Market Art Pop-Up
Kick off the shopping season with a holiday market that starts on Small Business Saturday and continues through Sunday. At the same market, shop Handmade by Michelle, Yarnies by Mikey both days, and Allison Mooney Design on Sunday only.  

StudioUs
4806 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60640
Facebook Event


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THANKS FOR COMING!

Past Event

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 10-5PM
HoliDose Market at Morgan MFG

We're super excited about this one. Shop Monsoon Pottery and over 120 vendors at one of Chicago's best holiday markets. Buy tickets for $10 in advance (or $12 at the door), of which $2.50 goes to The Kitchen Community, connecting Chicago kids through read food and Learning Gardens. Support a great cause and your local businesses in one highly curated food and fashion-focused event. 

Morgan MFG
401 N. Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60642
HoliDose Website


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THANKS FOR COMING!

Past Event

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 10AM-3PM
Willis Tower Holiday Market

Willis Tower
Tower House, 33rd floor
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
Tower House Website


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16, 11AM-6PM
Pop-up at Humboldt House

One of our favorite retailers in Chicago is hosting us for their Small Business Saturday series. Come get your last-minute gifts and shop at our pals' pop-up, Lost Girl's Vintage.

Humboldt House
1045 N. California Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Humboldt House Website