Making the Providence Collection Planters

This collection marked a little bit of a shift for me creatively. I decided to concentrate on just making one thing: handmade ceramic planters. The plan to concentrate on creating only planters was initially motivated by a preoccupation with getting the design just right. Form and function had to meet in order for these planters to work properly. Personally, I find that pottery doesn’t lend itself well to perfectionism, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid. I created fewer pieces for this collection than I usually do, because I went through several design iterations before settling on the planter design that made it into the collection. This process could have been frustrating, but I’m really happy with the way they finally turned out. (And don’t worry, all the test versions found good homes, too. My roommate calls our house the land of misfit pottery.)

The Design

I knew I wanted the pots to have an attached base to catch water. I don’t have a particularly green thumb (though I do like to think that what I lack in skill, I make up for with enthusiasm), but messy flower pots are one of my pet peeves. I also hate when planters don’t come with matching saucers, and the fact that those that do come with attached saucers often overflow when you water them.

With these issues guiding my design, I went about creating two tiered pots where the base serves not only to catch draining water, but also as a sort of pedestal. This is one of the things I like most about pottery: the opportunity to combine function with aesthetic.  At this point in the design process, I went though the most versions. I played with angles and shapes, and added holes to the top of the base for ventilation so the water could evaporate out.

These are two of my early versions.  They have narrower pedestals than my final versions,and they taper toward the top. 

early version of planter   early version of pedestal flower pots

I eventually moved toward wider (and more stable) pedestals with straight sides, like these two planters that are in the collection.

pedestal planter in progress photo   pedestal planter work in progress

 Self Watering Planters

Once I finalized my general design, I realized that the large bases I was making could easily be made into into a self-watering pots. Their larger size meant they would hold more water. So, I made half of the planters in the Providence Collection self-watering by throwing small cones on the wheel, and adding them as a siphon. Self-watering flower pots are great for people who forget to water their plants regularly (like me)!

thrown forms fresh off the potters wheel   work in progress of self watering flower pots

I attached the cones to the bottom of the planters, pointing down into the base. I put holes into the cones so that when the base is filled with water, the soil in the cone will pull water up as needed. Additionally, the self-watering planters can still be used as regular planters simply by watering them regularly.

I finished all the planters in the collection with a combination of glossy and matte white glaze, and details of either yellow or green.