Life Lessons from the Pottery Studio (Plus a New Release)

by Gilian Baker

Though I haven’t thrown pottery for many years, it was once my creative passion. And while it’s not the typical hobby you’re likely to find highlighted in a cozy mystery, it was ideal for my protagonist, Jade and mA Time to Kilne.


Well, because I’d planned the murder in my new book, A Time to Kiln, many moons ago when I spent all my free time in a dusty pottery studio.

Taking a pottery class seemed like a natural pursuit. I loved playing in the mud as a kid growing up on a farm and as an adult, I loved getting my hands dirty while growing organic vegetables. What started out as a chance to have some “me time,” away from the responsibilities of having a small child, soon grew into an obsession. For the next 7 years, I pored over pottery magazines and tested different types of glaze recipes.

I still use many of the items I created back then, as do my family and friends. Even though I’m now too busy writing cozy mysteries to throw pots, I still enjoy the ones I literally created with my bare hands years ago.

Although I had many successes in the studio, there were many failures too. I would study pictures in pottery magazines thinking, “Heck, I can make that.” This was around the time I learned that nothing ever turns out like the picture. The times when a friend or family member requested a certain item was when I experienced the biggest failures. I’d want it to be so perfect. The harder I tried, the worse it got.

I better understand that concept now—the more “work” you make of something, the harder it’s going to be. When I let myself enjoy the simple pleasure of creating, I ended up with sometA Time to Kilnhing lovely. When I didn’t, well, I didn’t. During my time as a potter, I learned the best way to do anything was to let go of how the final product turned out and just enjoy the process. Same goes for writing fiction.

Frustrations can easily overshadow the pleasure found in the pottery studio—there are many steps in the process to finish a single piece. The clay must be thrown, dried, trimmed, glazed and fired, and at any point in the process, it can be ruined. But oh, when you create something beautiful, you forget all about the frustrations and can’t wait to do it all over again. Throwing pottery is a great metaphor for life. If you are as malleable as the clay, you can learn patience and mindfulness. If you don’t…you probably won’t stick with it for long.

Sadly, Jade will not have the pleasure of drinking from a mug she threw on a pottery wheel herself, a fact that she bemoans. Before she can become proficient “behind the wheel,” her teacher is murdered.

A Time to KilnA Time to Kiln: A Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery (Book 2)

Disenchanted with life after solving her first real case, Jade Blackwell, successful blogger and amateur sleuth, throws herself into a new hobby…until murder rears its ugly head.

But when Jade attempts to ferret out the killer of local pottery teacher, Paula Hexby, she comes up short and suspicion begins to descend on her daughter’s former boyfriend. Evidence and bodies are stacking up, as Jade finds herself caught between an untrustworthy client and her beloved community.

Now at a personal and professional crossroads, Jade must once again jump into the breech, along with partner Gabrielle Langdon, to uncover the truth behind this string of horrific murders. Is she really cut out for this life of sleuthing and danger? Has Jade been defending the real murderer all along? Or is there something much more sinister afoot?

Follow Jade in her next adventure in A Time to Kiln, now available on Amazon.

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who’s gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She’s the author of Blogging is Murder and A Time to Kiln.

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  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    August 1, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I’ve always wanted to try making pottery. Now I’m really feeling the itch!

    Great post and congrats on your new release, Gilian!

  • Reply
    Gilian Baker
    August 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Thanks, Kassandra! I’m a super practical person, so even my hobbies produce usable items, like pottery. 🙂 It’s messy and fun! You should definitely give it a try!

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    August 2, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    A day late to the party, but what a fab post, Gilian! I love the pottery metaphor for writing. It is so true: when you try too hard and put pressure on yourself, worrying about the final product, that’s often when you mess it up.

    Oh, and I laughed out loud at “nothing turns out like the picture.” Hahaha! So true. Just google “Pinterest fails” and you’ll find a ton of examples! And I have plenty myself. Good luck with the book launch!

    • Reply
      Gilian Baker
      August 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      LOL. Yeah, that’s my new motto, K.B.–it makes so many things in life better. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so knowing “it” doesn’t have to look like the picture is a relief! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for your well wishes! P.S. I’m too scared to Google “Pinterest fails.” BUT that would be a great thing to do to feel better about myself when I’m having a rough writing day! LOL. I’ll have to keep that in mind!

  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    August 3, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Another recovering perfectionist here. 🙂 You’ve just nailed the biggest lesson I’ve learned (the hard way) the past few years. Making pottery does look like fun! And congrats on your new release!

    • Reply
      Gilian Baker
      August 6, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Shannon, maybe we should start a new 10-step program for recovering perfectionists! I think it would be extremely popular in our modern age! 🙂 Even though I’ve “learned” that lesson, I can still definitely fall into the trap of “must be perfect…NOW!” But it’s getting easier. Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you enjoy the new book!

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