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An Interview with the owners of Slip Clayware, Park Slope Brooklyn

Andrea and Kristin are the creators and artists behind one of our favorite online pottery shops called Slip Clayware. We stumbled upon them about 3 years ago while we were visiting our old neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They were set up at an artists fair and we immediately were attracted to the simplicity and modern feel of their Dune mugs, (and they way they perfectly fit in our hand!).

Since that day, we’ve bought a few more Dune mugs and a couple wonderfully cute Pebble Hanging Air Planters that hang in our home, (and that we’ve gifted to friends).   We love watching Slip Clayware’s work evolve on instagram and seeing the new designs they come out with.

On a recent trip back to New York City, I got the chance to meet up with Andrea and Kristin and ask them a few more questions about their business and craft. This interview is part of a larger set of interviews with entrepreneurs. What started as a hobby for them when they were both looking to get creative outside of their day job, is now almost a full-time gig creating and shipping their pieces worldwide.  In their other lives, as they like to call them, Andrea works in marketing and Kristin is an architect.

Pair of Dune Mugs

Use 3 words to describe your vision & philosophy of your work.

Andrea: Modern, Classic, Experimental

Where do you create your pottery pieces? 

Andrea: We work out of a communal studio in Brooklyn. We’ve been at that location for about 5 years now and really love the dynamic of being there. It’s been great to work with a lot of other really amazing ceramicists and see how their own work has grown and evolved over the years. Plus it’s always nice having other people to bounce ideas off of or ask questions to… or laugh with when your ideas go totally flat.

What is your intention behind your work & offerings?

Kristin: At the risk of sounding cliche, I love that when you sit at a wheel with a lump of clay it can literally turn into anything – I’ve made clocks, piggy banks, door knobs, coat hooks, even a tape dispenser.  Exploring the range of forms and functions that can come of out of a pile of mud is always the initial intent for me.  Some things make the cut, others don’t, but it’s never for naught – a lot of those explorations end up informing other pieces.

Kristin Mueller

Andrea Juda

I’ve always been fascinated by the threads that lead someone right to the moment they are in. What are your earliest memories of being drawn to this work & what inspired you to start creating pottery pieces?

Andrea: Kristin and I initially met while working at the same architecture firm. It probably helped that we worked together in that setting first. But after many years working a desk job, I really wanted an outlet that didn’t involve sitting at a computer. Always being interesting in ceramics, I convinced Kristin to take a class with me and it pretty much all went from there.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from working for yourself?

Andrea: Time management is definitely up there. Balancing other work responsibilities (and a personal life) with everything that is involved in operating a small business like Slip is tough – making the pieces themselves is really only part of the job. There are always a lot of moving parts and being motivated to keep track of them all, much less accomplish them, can be challenging.

When do you feel the most connected to yourselves?

Kristin: When I feel safe to both individually explore while recognizing failure is essential to the process, and importantly also share with others in a way that is energizing and encouraging.

Pair of Whorl Mugs

Arroyo Spoon Rest and Tumbler

How do you refocus yourself when you’re feeling uninspired or stuck?

Kristin: If I’m feeling uninspired I’ll sometimes just pick an object that’s not typically made out of clay, then sketch different ways it could be accomplished with the constraints that come with making something out of clay.  It’ll need to be a certain thickness to survive the kiln, and may have components that are made in ways that are completely different and then combined, if it’s thrown on the wheel, it’s going to have an aspect of symmetry to it, and if it introduces other materials I’ll have to think very critically about how those get combined with a material that shrinks a little bit at each stage of the process.  Usually this gives me enough to noodle on to get creatively unstuck for a bit.

Andrea: More than anything, I think I just take a break and walk away from it a bit.

What is an as of yet unrealized project of yours?

Andrea: I think we are really starting to look at more unconventional pieces or uses for ceramics (generally speaking, things that aren’t related to the containment of food or plants). It’s been fun to see what we can do with those forms, and we will certainly still make them, but more and more we are interested in seeing what else ceramics can do. There will definitely be some new introductions soon!

What is one thing you know for certain?

Kristin: Wonder can inspire gratitude and creativity, and I love all three. (I know a few other things too).

Andrea:  I know that I’m really lucky to have the life that I have. I also know that I don’t know many things for certain… outside of the fact that I know I’d like another cup of coffee right now. 

Prototype of a Piggy Bank

Andrea and Kristin holding a few of their pieces