Featured Artist

Erin Hupp

I’ve been throwing for 20 years. I love the transformative process of clay on the potter’s wheel. Clay is tactile, malleable and forgiving (at least in wet form!) I begin with a simple round ball of clay. But over time that ball is shaped by my hands into a functional, unique handmade object that can be enjoyed in daily life.

“Functional art can have a surprisingly profound impact on people’s lives. That favorite coffee cup, bowl or plate you reach for has the capacity to bring you joy on a daily basis.  I aspire to make objects that people reach for over and over again.”

Erin Hupp
Oakland, CA

Ceramics is my day job. I’ve been a ceramicist for 20 years. I also have a law degree and a Masters in City Planning. Three years ago I left those fields to focus solely on my art and I’m thrilled about it! I always wondered what my life would have been if I graduated with a BFA and MFA instead. Now I have the opportunity to follow that other life path.

About the process

The ceramic process is lengthy and temperamental — one of the reasons I love doing what I do. Nothing is certain and failures happen frequently. Even after 20 years of experience this medium keeps me humble.

I draw inspiration from the boundaries between the built environment and nature, what is human-made adjacent to that which is natural. I love sketching inspiration from what I see in my daily life — a curve, the sunlight hitting a wall, one of my children’s drawings.

After sketching out a form, I wedge my clay to remove air bubbles. Then I make the clay into a ball, secure it onto the wheel and begin throwing the shape. For coffee mugs, I focus on making uniform walls and a smooth rim. After the body of the mug is thrown, I let it dry under plastic for 24-48 hours. I turn the piece over on the wheel and trim the bottom. Then I hand-pull a handle and adhere it to the body of my mug. The mug undergoes a slow drying process to reduce handle cracking and then I sand the mug, fire it in the kiln (bisque), sand it again, glaze it and then fire it again. Each firing takes the mug to a high heat (2200 degrees fahrenheit). The whole process takes 2-3 weeks to complete.

I hand make each piece; I do not use molds. Tiny imperfections are the sign of handmade. My art is made solely by me, using only my hands and the potter’s wheel. I intentionally make collections of handmade art (not carbon copies). You can collect my work knowing that each piece is unique!

The supplies

I’m very intentional about who I source from and work with. For example, I have two sources of clay. My darkest clay sparkles in the sunlight and I have it shipped all the way from Pennsylvania. My other clays are made locally by a man who is one of the last clay makers in California. He sources raw materials and creates each batch of clay by hand. I have a lot of respect for the craft of making good clay as that is a specialty all its own.

Fun facts

Do your products have a social impact?
Every month I have a donation giveaway. In order to enter into the giveaway I ask people to donate to a certain charity –  Black Lives Matters, the California Fire Foundation etc. In the last 5 months I’ve raised over $2,000 for these various charities!

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you love about your neighborhood?
I’ve lived in San Francisco for 13 years. Last month we moved to Oakland, which I’m having a lot of fun exploring, but I left my heart in San Francisco.

What’s your favorite cafe item at mission blue?
That’s easy! Kellie’s lavender latte with a little lavender flower paperclipped to the side of the cup.

See more on instagram @erin_hupp_ceramics