Paddy the Potter

Paddy the Potter

Paddy's hands molding dark clay on a pottery wheel.

I have known this artist for numerous years. Her talent for pottery is evident in her works of art. She is also an avid tea drinker with her own tea rituals that she enjoys. Enjoy this article about everyday people, their tea rituals, and the tea they drink.

A Journey For Paddy

An art studio with a large table, mosaic tiles, a radio, pottery wheels, brushes, and molding tools.

Paddy is a very accomplished ceramic artist, and has been honing her craft for decades. However, Paddy actually did not start out studying art in her early collegiate years. She originally started her academic pursuits in obtaining a bachelors of Fine Arts and then switched to a Bachelors of Mathematics. She explained that she didn’t feel like she fit in with the mathematics department, but liked her math teachers. Since she didn’t feel a connection with her art teachers, Paddy decided to switch to mathematics for her degree.

As she left college and entered the working world, she was employed as a mathematician in a private sector business. Paddy always enjoyed making things, and her math skills came in handy for measuring and computing materials needed for her projects. Paddy married and had six children; four boys and two girls spanning approximately 13 years from the oldest to the youngest. She left the math industry when her children arrived, to stay home and care for them. It was during this time that Paddy journeyed into the world of water color.

An Artist Is Discovered

A purple and red glazed iris flower relief carving.

It is often by happenstance, good fortune, or luck that an artist is discovered. It is also sometimes by exploration that the artist themself, discovers their preferred mediums of art. Paddy would dabble in water color when her children were little. She would paint pictures, sell them to friends and at art fairs. She would take watercolor workshops with friends. These classes introduced Paddy to painting on little mosaic tiles. Her tiles that she created for friends and customers alike, introduced her tothe work of ceramics.

A Ceramicist Is Born

A relief carving of a rabbit.

Paddy fell in love with ceramics. She has been working with clay for over 25 years. She enjoys the feel of the clay on her hands, the smell of the clay as it is damp, and derives great satisfaction when her artwork is completed. Unlike her watercolors, if a mistake is made with clay, Paddy stated that she can simply start over. She explained that she can start over without throwing away the clay piece. She stated that she would moisten the clay, fix the mistake and move forward with her piece that she was working on. Paddy explained that with watercolor, oftentimes starting over is literally starting over with a new paper and not salvaging the watercolor.

There is a junction where mathematics and fine art meet. Paddy feels that the junction is in ceramic art. Paddy utilizes her skills as a mathematician to create works of art. She stated that various types of clay require different firing temperatures. She explained that mathematics is also used in the installation of hanging her artwork. Paddy emphasized that a ceramic artist needs to differentiate outside clay or inside clay for appropriate installation and know cold/heat indexes for the type of clay. In addition, she stated that different clay will take different glazes and an artist has to know how much glaze will be required to cover the entire artwork. Paddy feels that she has used more of her mathematical skills and talent creating her ceramic art than her watercolor paintings.

Ceramic Teapots And Tea

A ceramic teapot with a large handle, spackled with multiple colors.

Paddy has tried to make teapots but that was not where her passion lay. Paddy stated that making teapots is a very time consuming and precise art form. She emphasized that getting the spout to pour correctly and have the handle stay securely on the teapot are extremely difficult.

Instead, she enjoys making mosaic tiles and larger tiles for installations. Paddy has made garden benches, large 9 ft. By 12 ft. wall installations in churches, smaller mosaic wall installations at children's hospitals, bird baths, and tile back splash reliefs for kitchen walls. Paddy’s true passion is to make ceramic boxes. She finds them very utilitarian, practical, and challenging to make.

She has studied Ying Ching teapots. Paddy enjoys looking at the Ying Ching tea pots for the aesthetic art form that they are. She explained that the various colors of clay that the teapots are formed with are due to the varying mineral properties in the clay. She stated that the Ying Ching teapot artists need to know the limits of their clay and how the glaze will be absorbed into the clay. Paddy appreciates the teapots for the delicate art form that they are.

Paddy’s Tea Rituals

A stained glass mosaic with spoons, forks, and knives.

While Paddy appreciates the Ying Ching teapots and other clay teapots that artist friends have made for her, she does not use the clay pots for making her tea. Paddy enjoys drinking her tea from heavy ceramic mugs. She remembers who gave her all of the mugs that she uses. Using the different mugs gives her a chance to pause, and reflect on the person who gave her the mug.

Paddy likes to have a cup of tea when she is journaling, or reading. Often, the tea is caffeinated in the daytime while she is carving out her journaling, reading and drafting ideas for her next ceramic project. However, at night she enjoys an orange and cinnamon decaffeinated blend to help her relax and bring a comforting closure to her day.

What tea brings comforting closure to your day? Is it a caffeine free tea, a fruit infusion, a favorite green or black blend served iced? Are there specific cups or mugs that are used during your tea break?

Happy steeping,


About The Author

A photo of Leslie on the patio wearing a pink cardiganLeslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea.  No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!

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