Not Just A Vase: Pots by Dorothy Steele

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“I have always seen clay as organic in substance and form,

and have been drawn to the Earth, nature and its colors. 

It is out of this core inspiration that I create my pottery.” 


Dorothy Steele


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It was love at first sight….

I fell in love with Dorothy’s enchanting pottery immediately, when I discovered it more than a year ago, at Mossy Creek Pottery in Lincoln City, OR.  None came home with me on that trip, but I purchased two of her mugs when I returned this April, as a gift for my partner.


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I chose designs from her sea themed collection, embellished with mermaids, shells, sea grasses and a long tentacled jellyfish.  We’ve used them daily since, remembering our love for the Oregon coast as we do.


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But a flurry of emails between us found Dorothy agreeing to construct a few more mugs for us with her signature grapevines, dragonfly and other garden motifs.  She offered to make several to give me a choice.  But, I loved them all. 


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Also a gardener, Dorothy uses cuttings from her garden in her work.  She presses ferns, leaves, vines and other natural objects into slabs of porcelain to create organic artworks which also happen to be functional.

I love using beautiful works of art every day, taking fresh pleasure in them with each sip of coffee.


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Dorothy and I share a love for beautiful pottery, which is enough to begin a transcontinental friendship.  But then we have both invested chunks of our lives teaching in public school and elsewhere, and we share a deep passion for our gardens and the natural world.  We both love making beautiful things with our hands.  And I admire her wonderful imagination for creating in clay and glaze.

Dorothy moved her studio home to Gresham Oregon in 2010, and from there supplies six galleries in Oregon, another in Washington, and participates in numerous juried shows, retail craft fairs and wholesale craft markets.  She and her potter colleagues also participate in ‘Empty Bowls’ to help feed the hungry in the greater Portland area.

These mugs are perhaps the tamest of her creations.  Most of her bowls, tea pots, candlesticks, sake and sushi sets take whimsical, organic forms as well.  If you have a moment, please follow the links to Dorothy’s site to see more of her pots.


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To make a long story longer, I couldn’t choose between the mugs Dorothy constructed for us and advised her to, “Send them all!”  One or two will find their way to loved ones at the holidays, and we will enjoy the rest.  I am beguiled by the dragonflies and curling vines; summer captured forever in clay.


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I’m using them as vases today, holding a few clippings of Oxalis, Coleus and Heuchera from pots by the door.  I squandered the cool early morning hours watering, weeding, planting and photographing; neglecting cuttings for a vase until after it was too hot to breathe.  I hope these few stems will do….

Cathy, at Rambling In the Garden always inspires with her floral creations.  And today her vase is expertly filled with Hydrangea and Cosmos, and many other delectable blossoms.  Please visit her to see what other gardeners around the planet snipped for their vases today.    You’ll find links in her comments to many wonderful garden sites. We all appreciate Cathy for hosting this tete a tete of flowers each Monday.


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Gardening friends in Oregon likely know Dorothy and her work already.  But I want to share her unique porcelain pottery with others, too.

My collection of Steele pots is destined to grow in the years ahead, and perhaps yours might, as well…..





Woodland Gnome 2016


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

12 responses to “Not Just A Vase: Pots by Dorothy Steele

  1. I love the glazes the artist used. The mugs clearly work well for all sorts of purposes too.

  2. So delighted to learn about this artist in Gresham!

    • Lori, thank you for your follow today. If you’ve not been out to Mossy Creek at the coast, I highly recommend the beautiful drive and this amazing pottery shop. Nearly 50 artists display there from time to time and it is such a warm and welcoming space to visit. Of course, Dorothy probably displays in a shop much closer to you there in Portland- I hope you find her work ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Beautiful mugs, no wonder they give you so much pleasure.

  4. AS you have said, these designs are absolutely stunning and I can see how you would easily love them all – not just the designs, but the colours too. I am sure I am not alone in wondering though, if she presses her material into the clay or porcelain, how she does the dragonflies…? 😉 They certainly don’t need any more embellishment than a few simple simple stems. Very lovely, and thank you so much for sharing

    • Thank you, Cathy. I’ve wondered about the dragonflies, mermaids and perhaps some of the shells, too. It must be some solid object or possibly even a rubber stamp? Lovely work however it is done. An artist in our community has a similar technique using lace and other textiles- Just wonderful imagination to think of these things 😉

  5. They’re beautiful – I love the color combination of blue, purple and green. The botanical motif makes them even better. 🙂

  6. I can see why you love these mugs…the decorations and colors are addictive….and I will be looking for one for me!

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