Big Love for These Tiny Pots: We Talked to Ceramist Sara Pilchman
Sara Pilchman Ceramics specializes in handmade ceramic pottery. Her Tiny Pots are great for so many uses! They are food, microwave, and dishwasher safe, which means they are great for every room in the house – from your windowsill garden to your dinner table.
Where is Sara Pilchman Ceramics based out of?
We're based out of my home town, Long Beach, California, but grew into our industrial warehouse in Signal Hill at the end of 2021.
How did you get into pottery?
Summer camp! I've done pottery on and off for most of my life, but started as an eager kid in summer camp around 1994. My competitive nature and love of getting dirty kept me excited about the art, but I got more serious at 16 when I attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in Southern California and began to shift my focus from instrumental music back to ceramics. I went to a small liberal art college in central Pennsylvania where I focused on pottery, curatorial studies, experimental theater, and philosophy.
When did you start creating tiny pots?
When I graduated from college I wasn't sure I would ever have a space to continue my ceramic work, but luckily when I returned to California I got my first adult job teaching pottery at a commercial studio in Long Beach. I spent all of my time in the studio, teaching or creating...which of course meant I had WAY too many pieces that were just getting dusty on shelves. The business officially started in 2016 when I decided I might as well sell what I was making (primarily functional dishware). TinyPots developed from two different directions: one, as miniature pendant versions of the larger bottles I was making; and two, as shot glass sized planters to attach to my friends' bikes. TinyPots quickly became my best sellers, and in 2019 I decided to entirely shift SPC to wholesale the product.
What does your design process look like?
My production process is complicated, with weeks of different steps to ensure proper vitrification and glaze application so the pieces are strong and beautiful. The design process, on the other hand, is very simple! I've made tens of thousands of pots, so my muscle memory essentially lets my hands do whatever they want to do. It's an intuitive process built on years of experience. When glazing we like to show off the different clay bodies we fire, so we often use a diagonal angled dip to showcase variations in the glaze and clays. Every piece is unique, so leaving it up to intuition and the kiln gods always keeps the business exciting!
Where's the weirdest place you've seen/bumped into one of your pots?
I have a some amazing friends with homes filled with years of my work--which is always fun--but I've got some really interesting shops as well! The most surprising find for me was when a friend sent me a picture of the collection of TinyPots Sugarboo + Co has at their shop in The Venetian Resort in Vegas!
Follow Sara Pilchman on Instagram: @sarapilchmanceramics
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