tea design: tea ceramics with megan john in cleveland, ohio

I love tea, I love the leaves and water, but to me tea culture is more than just the leaf, it’s about the artisan teapots and teacups, about the teahouses and the ritual of preparing tea.  In light of that, welcome to a new interview series – this time with some super talented and creative teaware designers.

This interview is with Megan John, a ceramicist working out of Ohio in the US.  You might think that custom created teaware would be crazy expensive but you can get your very own Megan designed teacup for$8-$12, isn’t that fabulous!

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Tell me a little about what you design and make – what got you into tea, and into designing teaware.

megan in her studio

I’ve been a potter for more than half my life (since I was 10 years old) and I love making cups and mugs that add something to the experience.

There’s something about color, texture, weight, and shape that can change a tea-drinking experience as much as the flavor of the tea can.  Some days I’m in the mood to make giant, sturdy mugs that hold a whole pint. Other days I want to make nothing but tiny tea cups with a lot of intricate carving work.

What is your inspiration when designing, are there other designers or external sources that you draw upon.

I like to let the clay have a say in what it becomes. I’ve never been a control freak and I love surprises. The material itself has to be my biggest inspiration, and I rarely know what I’m about to make before I’m actually on the wheel.

When I was younger, my work was about showing off my technical skill and I used to think there’d never be anything more important than that. Now, as more and more techniques become second nature, I’m trying to focus on making
work that radiates the sense of enjoyment and luck that came with making it.

Tell me where in the world you are, and what you love about it.

I’m in Cleveland, Ohio, and have lived here since I was born. Usually when people think of Cleveland they think of a depressed rust-belt city, but there’s a small community of young artists that I’m proud to be a part of.

My studio is in a converted wiener factory in a rough neighborhood. There’s dilapidated machinery everywhere and everything is decaying concrete and brick. It’s a great space to create full of history, character, and potential. The low costs allow me to chase my dreams on a realistic budget!

Cleveland is the city of underdogs, so as a craftsperson in a world of mass-produced goods, I definitely feel like I fit in here.

What does tea mean to you.

Tea is such a fusion of cultures for me. From English tea traditions to Japanese, I love to consider the aspects I like the most and instill them in my own tea rituals.

For me, tea is something to commune over, to relax with, to remind me to take a break, and to allow me to explore my senses. I keep a tea table stocked with pots from the kiln that didn’t quite turn out, and when people come up to the studio we have tea and snacks on my dishes. It’s a chance to talk, reflect, and indulge.

What’s your favorite tea related memory or location and why is it special to you.

OK, here’s a confession: I drink Red Rose tea and collect the little tea whimseys. Sure, I have special-occasion teas which brew beautifully and perfectly, but there’s something about cheap tea that is the perfect guilty pleasure. I drink it pretty much constantly.

Can you tell me about your favorite tea shop or favorite teaware line.

It’s definitely got to be Pure Blend Teas. I found out about them earlier this year when they ordered some of my little bowls to display loose leaf teas in. I fell in love with the tea itself, especially the Vanilla Chai.

Where can people find your designs or get in touch with you.

I do most of my sales online, through my store.  You can also find me on Etsy and at my blog and Twitter as @MN_John, usually tweeting about something I’m eating.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deborah Davidson, Deb H.. Deb H. said: New post: Tea Design: #tea ceramics with Megan John @MN_John in Cleveland, Ohio: http://t.co/XQLh0TO #teadesign […]

  2. […] she interviews some people involved in, well… travel and tea! Deb has done interviews with teaware designers, the founders of IndieTravel Podcast, and indie tea shop owners. I don’t know how she finds […]



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