Hospital Cups 2019

January 9, 2019 - Leave a Response

It is Hospital Cup time!

Time to take a moment to thank everyone who helped me out during a challenging time that began on March 15, 2006. To everyone who works at St. Luke’s hospital, thank you…I am so grateful to you for doing the difficult work that you do day in and day out. I still think of you often and hope that each of you enjoys this coming year to the fullest.

To my friends and family…continued gratitude for your help and your presence. I am so very lucky to have you and be able to enjoy our many good times.

This time the cups are either a matte or a glossy white exterior and have a touch of blue. I will be delivering them to friends, family, and to the 4th and 8th floors of St. Luke’s Hospital soon!


I have moved up a couple of the Hospital Cups posts from the past. Just scroll down if you would like to see how I go about making them.

Thank you again and again. I have given you just a cup. You have given me this: time with lovely granddaughters…

Hospital Cups 2009

January 2, 2019 - One Response

In 2006, I went on a road trip and…well, I had a little coma. Bradley was on the trip with me and bore the initial traumadrama. My family and friends traveled to be with me in Georgia. My brother sat at my bedside for seven weeks. My daughter was in her last year of college, traveled back and forth…and still got straight A’s. I think she was in a “walking coma” of sorts at that time. My friend, Shannon, brought me “back from the dead” literally and Susan gave me a mantra that kept me alive. Larry got a plane, pilot and nurses to get me back to K.C. John is an interpreter at St. Luke’s and checked on me every day. Connie rallied my potter friends and sold my entire stock of work which went a long way in paying my bills. I would not be here without them, I’m sure. Many other friends and family members helped take very good care of me that year. It is too long of a story to tell but I consider myself very lucky to have these people in my life.

I am especially grateful to the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital. They saved my life and put me back together. A nurse named John sang to me every morning and a nurse named Caroline kept me laughing throughout the day. The therapists got me back on my feet and everyone from the volunteers to the doctors were so very kind. Three months later, I was able to walk out and go home. I felt genuinely cared for when I was there.

When I finally got back into my studio, instead of throwing 50 pound platters on the wheel, I was only able to throw with 1/2 pound of clay. So I sat my little (very little) self down and made 60 cups. Every year since then, I make 60 cups again because I am forever grateful for the care that I received. I give “hospital cups” to the ones mentioned above. Then I take cups to St. Luke’s Hospital. I leave 25 on the 7th floor where I stayed and I take 25 to the rehab area. I told these people when I left that I would never forget them and I never will.

Last month I sat my little self back down and made these cups…

Then I made more! …

A small cup and a big thank you to my family, friends, and the staff of St Luke’s!

Hospital Cups! Huh?

January 2, 2019 - One Response

Awhile back I…well, I uh…had a little coma. Months later, back in my studio, it was obvious that I wouldn’t be making fifty pound platters until I got some meat back on my bones. Happily I began to move the only amount of clay that I could… one half pound. I was still in a state of “overwhelmed” by my experience. Part of this was due to the tremendous amount of support I received from the people in my life. It was actually difficult to”get a grip” on the fact that so many people did so much for me. Two things solved the predicament, one being…I sat my little self down and did the one thing I could do… I made cups…dozens and dozens of little one half pound cups. Destined to end up in the hands of nurses, therapists, and doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital, plus a few other folks, these lil’ cups helped express a huge gratitude for being alive.

The next year, I took a bit of time from my summer schedule (which included 25 pound platters…hey, I’m gettin’ there) and did a repeat.

This year I changed up the form and am making a shorter, wider cup. They are porcelain and very, very thin.

These are the kinds of tools I mostly use to throw. Half of a sponge (as a teacher I highly recommend taking the scissors to those sponges). The wee Mud Tool rib…mmmmsoft. The infamous Lil’ Chizler from Bracker’s. The omnipresent half pound of clay. I don’t know why the needle tool is there…I don’t use it for these cups. Hanging up to the left, you can see the green handle of my “Dirty Girl” wire cutoff tool and the top of my torch. Aw, the torch…yes. Love fire.

I weigh out 2 pounds of clay, wedge then divide into 1/2 pound lumps, then smack them into a wee ball. See that yellow patch on the left side of my scale? That’s my Osceola Cheese Factory refrigerator magnet. A must stop on your way to the Ozarks. Got cheese? My scale, sadly does not double as a tiny refrigerator. That would be my dream studio equipment, a Scale/Frig that would keep my chocolate cool. I shall move the magnet to that green circle thing on the wall so that it can be in all my pictures!

The small ball of clay is centered.

There are many ways to open a centered ball of clay. I tend to use the sponge in my right hand to push down on my left thumb.

pull up
The wall is pulled up.

pull up 2
Up again and…

pull up 3
yet again.

After addressing the cup with the Mud rib, I torch the top 1/2 inch. Careful…torching porcelain is extra tricky! I do this so that I can…

Grab the top, push down and turn the wheel just a bit to alter. Here is a good time to mention the “Joy of the Kickwheel”. A motorized Lockerbie kickwheel…the wheel of choice among fine potters everywhere. We should start a club…(they know what I am talking about).

hospital cups
Here is a pile just out of the bisque kiln. Time to glaze and wad for the soda. Hope you enjoyed. I’ll add on a couple of more photos as they get through the process…

wadded cups
Here are a few cups with the liner glaze in and little wads glued on…ready to go into the soda kiln. Wads are made of materials that don’t melt…keeps the cup up off the shelf so that when the soda solution is sprayed into the kiln, the cups won’t fuse to the shelves.

Fired Hosp. Cups
The first batch was fired in the soda kiln. I put in several different liners and left the outsides bare porcelain. The grey color on the outside is from the soda solution that is sprayed in the kiln, the spots of blue are from the copper that is present in the glazes on other pots in the kiln. Back to work…I want to have them all finished in October!

Hospital Cups 2015

January 2, 2019 - Leave a Response

Would you believe Year 10? Yes, this is the tenth year I have made Hospital Cups. I wish I could make many more for people who work at St. Luke’s Hospital and my friends and family. Seventy is a lot of cups but I could multiply seventy billion times seventy billion and still not come close to the amount of gratitude I have for those who took care of me during the year of My Little Coma.

To the medical staff; thank you for your dedication to your profession. You are very much appreciated by me and I’m sure many others. You put me back together in 2006 and somehow kept me smiling. Quite a feat!

To my friends and family; I’m certain you know how happy I am to have enjoyed this last ten years with you. Gravy! Icing on the cake!

I hope all of you had a lovely year and am wishing you a very happy New Year.

Scroll on down if you are interested in the details of the making of your cup…
This year, I chose a dark stoneware instead of our usual porcelain. Just one half a pound of clay because when I thought to make thank you gifts in 2006, that was all I could manage…
The first year, it was a big challenge to make all the cups. That September, I was just barely “back on my feet”. Now it is easy to pull up a little cup. And fun to make a bunch more!
Here are some of the cups all dried out and ready for the first firing. Dig the red stripe? 

Loading the kiln…

After the first firing, it was time to glaze. I put a clear glaze inside but before firing, it looks white!

I’m what you call a “clean potter”. No glaze drips or runs for me…

Usually! However, on “glaze night”, although I kept my first few cups clean and tidy, I thought… this is gonna be a long night…I wanna have a little fun. So I kept some little drips at the top and let the glaze sheet down the red stripe. Which kind of cup did you choose? Drips?

Or Runs?

Whichever, I hope you enjoy your Hospital Cup and remember there is someone out there with a lot of gratitude for YOU!

  The cup you chose is the best. Because you are The Best!

Summer Schedule

June 16, 2018 - Leave a Response

The KC Urban Potters in Westport will be having a group “Planter Show”. The reception is June 29th from 5-8 pm. I will be planting succulents in my vessels for that month-long, July show!

Also on my schedule, I am honored to be the featured artist at Bredin-Lee Gallery on First Friday, July 6th. This is a lovely space that also shows the works of the 323 Clay artists. A great evening to visit whether you are a First Friday hopper or not.

Here are images of items that will be in the Bredin-Lee Show. They are a nod to my studio home, Hoop Dog Studios…home to artists and a photo-op extravaganza:

This shallow 7″ porcelain dish is attached to a large, double-walled stoneware vessel which is about 14″ in diameter.


This is a small porcelain cup, embellished with a wide 19 carat gold rim. At a show a couple of summers ago, a stranger to me insisted that there is no such thing as 19 carat gold (eye roll). I choose to lay the gold inside the rim instead of the typical manner because… me. That’s how I roll.


I call this the “Double Cylinder Bowl”. A simple porcelain cylinder sets down in a stoneware “sleeve”. The dark brown vessel is sliced through front and back then “held” back together by wire loops. It’s a pretty good size, maybe 11″ in diameter, and a fun food service piece as the inner bowl is removable.

Nope, no, no. This is my soup in my newest bowl form. It’s my lunch. You can’t have it.  I just thought it was a pretty picture.


This huge bowl? Made awhile back. Must be special to me because I kept three and wouldn’t put them out for sale. I’m keeping one for myself and the second is going to Anderson O’Bryan Gallery in Omaha. It has a lovely amber celadon interior glaze.


I’m getting low on tea sets. Actually, I think this is the only complete set I have now. The tea pot and the cream/sugar are priced separately…but you should buy them both. They are happy together.


Okay so…I got kinda tired…this vase is similar to the one to be featured at Bredin-Lee Gallery. Already had a photo of this one…what can I say. This vase is named “Five Plex”. But. It. Is. ONE vase. Use your imagination, it is lovely. Oh, and the one for the show…lovely, as well.

Hospital Cups! 2017

June 4, 2017 - Leave a Response

In 2006, I, yes, had a “little coma”…for two months. A year later, I was pretty much recovered but it was quite a life informing experience. I’ll spare you the details (I reposted some earlier posts that explain a little if you are interested. Just scroll down after this post.)

This year I’m just going to tell a funny story. So…since my 3 month hospital stay in 2006 I have, every year, made a couple dozen “hospital cups” and given to family and friends who were very helpful to me at that time and I have taken 50 cups to St. Luke’s Hospital as a thank you. Every year.

Last May a lady walked into my booth at the Brookside art fair and said, “you are the one who brings cups for the people at St Luke’s, right?” “Yes, I said with a smile”. “Well..You need to know something!” (fortunately I saw a twinkle in her eye or she would have scared me a little!) “You take the cups to the 4th floor for the therapists and to the 7th floor for the staff there.” “yeah”. “Well, you stayed on the 8th floor, not the 7th. I have been taking your bags of cups up to the 8th floor. Every year. And you need to know this because I am retiring and you need to take your cups to the eighth floor from now on.”

So this very nice…and funny, lady…Susan, instead of contacting me and reporting, simply took care of the cups for me. For years! Just another example of the kindness of those involved in care giving.

To my family and friends, to the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave me my life back literally and you recently have given me the best thing of all… cherished moments with my granddaughter, Evelyn, who would not have known me without your care, attention and kindness.

Hospital Cups! 2010

June 4, 2017 - 4 Responses

This is the post I published in 2010:

In 2006, I went on a road trip to Florida and…well, I had a little coma. Long story, but when I got back into my studio months later, instead of throwing 50 pound platters on the wheel, I was only able to throw with 1/2 pound of clay. So I sat my little (very little) self down and made 50+ cups to give to some friends of mine. Every year since then, I make 50+ cups again because I will never forget and am forever grateful for the care that I received.

This is one pound of clay…

I wedge the clay then cut it in half…

I make some cups. Then I make some more cups.

I have a plaster cast of a sheet of metal that has a diamond plate design. I pound a thin slab onto it to pick up the impression.

I cut out the diamonds…

and attach them to the cup.

I glaze and fire them. Then I put gold luster on the diamond and fire them again. I give one to…

…Bradley. He accompanied me on my fateful journey and was the first person to save my life.

My brother sat by my side for seven weeks and held my hand when I was in my little coma. My daughter, well…there are not enough words…
These two cups are for Randy and Whitney…

Did you ever die but then think of someone at the last moment and change your mind? This cup is for Shannon…

I also give a cup to Susan and John. Susan gave me a mantra when I was in my little coma…it worked. John works at St. Luke’s and was with me every day. Connie gets a cup for all she did for me and because she represents all of my Red Star friends.

And the rest of the cups…

…they go to St. Luke’s hospital. I start with the lady who has been a greeter there for years. Her station is near the door to the parking garage. My daughter told me once that she found this person to be such a comfort. Everyday when Whitney came to the hospital, first to see if I was alive, later to see if I had made progress, the first thing she received at the door was a smile. Then I take cups to the physical therapy area and to the seventh floor.
Doctors, nurses, therapists, and others were so very kind to me. They saved my life then put me back together. I told them that I would never forget them…and I never will.
I forgot to put a diamond on one cup so I gave it a gold rim instead. Maybe you have this cup.

Back in the Saddle…

February 18, 2017 - 2 Responses

State of the nation aside, it has been a long and challenging winter. But my studio at Hoop Dog Studio on Troost is ready and this week I started making pots. I hadn’t touched clay since last October!

And wouldn’t you know, I was accepted into all the very fine art festivals that I had entered. I declined them except Cherry Creek in Denver, early July.

The Urban Potters in Kansas City kindly invited me to their big selling event coming up in May. That might be my only local event except for a summer and maybe fall studio sale.

I haven’t disappeared entirely, though. My work can be purchased at the Kemper Museum in KC, Bluestem Missouri Crafts n Columbia, and Anderson O’Brien Fine Art in Omaha.

And as always, my work is available to you directly from my studio or via my website.

Right now, my first order of business is Hospital Cups! If you don’t know about that, follow this blog and you will soon. (Don’t worry, I am a lazy blogger. Your inbox will barely notice if you follow)

When You Put A Potter…

November 28, 2016 - Leave a Response

What happens when you put a potter to work in a studio full of painters and mixed media artists?

Time will tell!

Until then, please consider joining me at hOOp dOg studiO for my participation in the Kansas City Clay Guild’s Annual Holiday Tour. See my new work and check out my new studio home.

Here are the facts:

hOOp dOg studiO

3308 Troost

Kansas City, Missouri

Friday, December 2,  6 – 9pm

Saturday, December 3,  10am – 5pm

Sunday, December 4, noon – 5pm


So, yeah…you caught that, right? I had to change studios. My new studio home is still in the prep stage.
I have a little this…1

and a little that…(yes, that is a toboggan)

I have a sky light!…

I still have work to do…

But I am…ABLE…

Fortunately there is a great workshop available…

There have been few casualties…

So am I blue?…

Not at all. Cuz it just got real, baby…

And the only way is UP!…

Try to stop by on the weekend for a peek. And remember, my door will always be open to you…

I’m easy to find. I’m certain you can locate me on your map…

As always, I remain easy to find…   Thank you for seeking out  Tara Dawley Ceramics. I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of hOOp dOg studiO. Come see it in person!

Next Up

September 28, 2016 - 2 Responses

I’m headed north with ceramics to my favorite weekend! The Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour. I’m setting up at Florence Mill. A fun getaway weekend for you, too. Lots of pottery, lovely people, studios scattered about the countryside. Find all the information here…

Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour
I’ll be bringing some of my narrative work and some of my newest work, too!