A Pool Party Pet Dish

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Pet photos courtesy Katie Cameron; Photos without pets courtesy Zoe Prinds-Flash
Pet photos courtesy Katie Cameron; Photos without pets courtesy Zoe Prinds-Flash

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A Minneapolis-based ceramicist is crafting pet dishes made to look like miniature pools.

Creator Katie Cameron says pottery has always been a part of her life, but she never pictured herself doing it for a living. Things changed when COVID-19 hit. "I got laid off in the pandemic and began my journey as a full-time potter," she says.

Today, Cameron is the creative force behind Cry Baby Clay, a personal studio and community clay resource. She crafts hand-built and wheel-thrown ceramic objects, including the new "Pool Party Pet Dish."

"I used to do a lot of still-life sculptural work, but now I'm focusing more on functional objects," Cameron says. "The pool party pet dish is a pretty fun combination of the two genres."

"I had been meaning to make ceramic pet dishes for a while," she continues. "As I was playing around with the form and considering what colors to glaze it, I kept thinking about pools that I had encountered in different times of my life."

To etch the tile pattern into the clay, Cameron uses a needle tool for a technique called "sgraffito." This is a subtractive decorating method accomplished by scratching the surface to reveal a lower layer of color.

Each set of miniature pool steps is made from thick clay slabs that are cut out, stacked and attached to the interior of the dish. "Once the clay stiffens, I flip it upside down and scoop out excess clay from the base. This allows me to be mindful of how much material I use per pet dish, and also makes it safer to fire," Cameron says.

Cry Baby Clay's offerings have an eight-week turnaround, giving Cameron time to create, dry and accumulate enough pottery to fill her kiln. "Clay takes time," she explains. "Each firing requires hundreds of pieces to be formed and properly dried — it's quite wasteful to run a partially-loaded kiln."

Due in part to the success of her take-home clay kits, Cameron is set to open Cry Baby Clay's first store front this month. Pre-orders for pieces typically open for one week, on a bi-monthly basis. To see more of Cameron's work, check out www.crybabyclay.com or follow @crybabyclay on Instagram.


This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.

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