make your own: clay vessel.

    October 14, 2019

    handmade clay vessels drying | reading my tea leaves

    These clever clay catch-all vessels dreamed up by Rose Pearlman, remind me of barnacles in the very best way. And isn’t that fitting? On a dresser or shelf they can function in a similar way, filtering and safekeeping the good stuff—keys, and coins, and bobby pins—that might otherwise get swept away with the tide of household activity.

    Rose writes, “every household has its own way of collecting and sorting belongings—books on a shelf, utensils in a drawer, toys in a basket—but the most challenging organization comes down to the tiny objects that get lost in a drawer or fall to the bottom of the toy bin. My solution to all the missing ear buds, vanishing hair ties, and collected acorns of the world are to gather them in small shallow containers, preferably ones that are pretty enough to have on a counter, small enough to fit inside a dresser drawer and durable enough to survive a toddler.”

    handmade clay vessel for keeping small things tidy | reading my tea leaves

    In typical Rose Pearlman fashion, she came up with a simple, inexpensive, homemade version that achieves the purpose of clean, uniform treasure-catching, without falling into the trap of many at-home clay projects and looking too much like a kid’s craft.

    handmade clay vessels perfect for organizing small household items | reading my tea leaves

    For this project, Rose found DAS Air Hardening Modeling Clay to be the best material for its all natural, non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients, as well as its natural color, texture and durability. To keep the waste impact of this project low, she used biodegradable latex water balloons and a single sheet of plastic wrap to make all the vessels.

    air dry clay and materials for clay vessels | reading my tea leaves

    In making the vessels in my own home, I experimented with a few other workarounds to the disposable items, and found similar, though not identical, results. A bundle of lentils, I found could be gathered into a ball-like shape and used in place of the balloon. (This method worked best for the smallest bowls and it does result in a slightly flatter bottom and the kind of textured interior you might expect from pressing clay around a bundle of lentils. If you’d like a smoother look on the inside, you might try using flour or another fine pantry staple.)

    making handmade clay vessels with linen dishcloth | reading my tea leaves

    I also experimented with using cloth in place of plastic wrap. For one of my bowls, I used a textured linen dish cloth to press the clay into a bowl shape and I really like the subtle pattern the linen left on the outside of the vessel. Overall, I concede that clear plastic and the balloon were undoubtedly the easiest materials to work with, in terms of being able to see the shape the clay was taking, working it into place, and achieving a rounded vessel shape. For those who might not keep plastic wrap stocked at home, I found that I was able to achieve the same effect using a cut-up piece of plastic bag that had come back with our laundry in lieu of plastic cling wrap.

    handmade clay vessel for keeping small things tidy | reading my tea leaves

    All this to say, if you’re up for a bit of trial and error, feel free to experiment with alternative materials you have at home. If you’re feeling less certain, a balloon and a sheet of plastic wrap (or similar plastic film) make this project effectively foolproof. Step-by-step instructions and photos from Rose are below.


    + DAS Air Dry Hardening Modeling Clay in white

    + Plastic wrap or film (a single sheet can be used multiple times)

    + Biodegradable Latex Water Balloons

    + Rolling pin or wooden dowel (optional)


    clay vessel by rose pearlman | reading my tea leaves

    + Soften a large handful of DAS clay, working it between two hands and forming into a round ball.

    + Flatten the clay ball using the palm of your hands to form a round disk. Continue to press the clay outward making the circumference wider. You can use a rolling pin if desired but do not roll it out too thin.

    + Blow up a water balloon but not to its maximum capacity; leave at least ¼ empty.

    + Cut off a piece of plastic wrap that will cover the balloon completely.

    + Place the clay disk in the center of the plastic wrap and the balloon on top of the center of the clay with the knot side of the balloon facing up.

    clay vessel by rose pearlman | reading my tea leaves

    + Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up over the balloon and twist the plastic at the end over the balloon.

    + Use your fingers to press the clay upward towards the tied end of the balloon, working around the balloon evenly.

    + Once you are happy with the size of the vessel, gently remove the plastic wrap.

    + Place the clay wrapped balloon somewhere safe to dry. Given the sun exposure and the thickness of the clay, it can take a few days to become completely dry. The balloon will naturally deflate over time or you can gently remove it when the clay becomes solid.

    + Once the balloon is removed, turn your vessel upside down to let the bottom dry out completely before using.

    handmade clay vessel for keeping small things tidy | reading my tea leaves

    Thanks to Rose Pearlman for developing this project, writing the instructions, and capturing the imagery. Rose is an artist, teacher, and textile designer. With a background in fine arts and a love of well designed functional objects, her creations blur the lines between art and craft and pushes the boundaries with non-traditional techniques and materials. Rose teaches monthly rug hooking workshops in and around her home in NYC, and also welcomes commissions for one of a kind constructions in decor and home furnishings. Her work has been featured in fiber magazines, galleries, and numerous online design sites. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

    Step-by-step process photos by Rose Pearlman. All other photos by Erin Boyle.

    This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

    my week in objects (mostly).

    October 11, 2019

    1. this banana bread.

    {and being the beneficiary of someone else’s late-night baking habit.}

    2. these october flowers.

    {for hanging on.}

    3. these tree guides.

    {and a kid very into “studying” them.}

    4. these pre-loved baby socks.

    {plus a pre-loved baby bouncer, and especially a cup of tea with a kindred spirit.}

    5. these tiny pears.

    {because mini fruit is the best kind of fruit.}

    other things:

    opting out.

    switch cotton, see change.

    you know someone who’s had a miscarriage.

    bronx defender beauty routines.

    critical consciousness.

    vanishing dinner.

    there’s not a paper trail.

    a curtained bed.

    on being selfish.

    October 10, 2019

    cosmos | reading my tea leaves

    Faye has been telling me lately when she’s feeling selfish. By which, I’ve gathered, she means she’s feeling like she wants some quiet time alone. Or, some quiet time together. Time to snuggle up and read a book. (Or snuggle up and stare out the window.) Time to walk by ourselves to school instead of joining friends we meet along the way.

    “Oh, you’re feeling like you want some solitude.” I’ve offered. “Some time to be quiet, or alone.”

    cosmos | reading my tea leaves

    But in trying to help her to find the right word to describe her feelings, it’s struck me that I don’t have another perfect word to substitute for her. When you look up self in the dictionary, there’s a long list of hyphenated words that come after it. With some obvious exceptions, lots of them have an overall negative association: self-righteous, self-important, self-serving, self-centered. They’re not descriptors most people would claim with pride. Unlike selfless, which we use to mean compassionate and considerate and noble and generous.

    But where does that leave us? How about the equally noble effort of being compassionate and considerate and generous with ourselves? How about being selffull? And taking the time to honor our own needs and fill ourselves up.

    In the end, I’ve taken a liking to Faye’s use of the word selfish. Sometimes I feel selfish, too. Like I need the time to sit quietly and arrange cosmos. Or, walk solo with my kid to school. Or methodically rearrange the spice cabinet. Or decline an invitation and get into pajamas as soon as the clock strikes five o’clock. Earlier this week, between meetings, I finally booked an appointment for the facial that James and the kids gave to me for my birthday. I treated myself to mozzarella sticks for lunch. I ducked into a makeup shop and asked the clerk to help me, a thirty-five year old, learn to apply eyeliner.

    cosmos | reading my tea leaves

    Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day. I hope we can all find a way to be a little bit selfish, taking into account each of our own particular, quirky, evolving needs.

  • four fall decluttering projects.

    I’m not sure what kind of fall projects you might have waiting to get checked off your list, but new seasons for me mean taking a bit of time to take stock, sort through,…

    October 7, 2019 34 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. this little pumpkin. {for getting carried home in a backpack from grammy and grandpa’s house.} 2. this tank. {for saving me as i hit the awkward stage with a belly that’s not so…

    October 4, 2019 2 Comments
  • habit shift: morning routine.

    We’ve entered the age of the frenzied morning. We had a whole year of school mornings and tumbling out the door together under our belt when this school year started, but we’ve also got…

    October 2, 2019 23 Comments
  • soups for welcoming fall.

    I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially feeling better. I know this mostly because the thought of making dinner is not sending me into fits of despair punctuated with gagging (sorry). Indeed,…

    October 1, 2019 24 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. these zinnias. {and their bendy stems.} 2. this un cover up. {because my dark circles needed a little love lately. this has helped.} 3. this companion. {sent from elizabeth and filled with inspiration…

    September 27, 2019 7 Comments
  • baby proof: involving kids in activism.

    Last Friday night, our beloved next door neighbors accidentally locked themselves out of their apartment on their way to dinner and so they knocked on our door at bedtime to get the spare key…

    September 26, 2019 17 Comments