Gardenhouse Pottery
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Gardenhouse Pottery, Cincinnati

Artist Trish McLennan crafts mugs, bowls and plates — many of which celebrate Cincinnati landmarks — for her line of functional items for the home. 

The fellow members of Trish McLennan’s garden club always called her the “crafty girl,” given her penchant for projects such as making trellises and steppingstones. Then, after taking a workshop about how to press leaves in clay, McLennan became hooked on pottery. Soon, the artist set up a home studio and bought herself a kiln and a potter’s wheel.

Working under the name Gardenhouse Pottery, McLennan crafts glazed mugs, bowls and plates displaying hand-drawn designs as well as personal and historic photographs. Some of her most successful pieces depict local landmarks, like Music Hall and Union Terminal

“When people think of Cincinnati, those are the buildings they think of,” McLennan says.

The city’s architectural diversity  brings a fine-art quality to the designs. When shaping the pottery itself, McLennan draws inspiration from other potters and artists.

“I really just look at the details,” she explains. “I look at the foot on one thing, how the rim is on another, how somebody else does a handle. I’ll take pieces of what people are doing and then try to do it in my own version.”

McLennan prepares each design using software and prints it onto special paper to create a decal, which is then burned onto the glaze. When the piece is fired in the kiln, everything but the red iron oxide burns off, leaving behind the rustic designs that are Gardenhouse Pottery’s signature. 

McLennan counts hikes with a group that leads treks through Cincinnati neighborhoods as a source of inspiration. So was a grade-school visit to the Taft Museum of Art.

“They did a scavenger hunt with architectural details,” McLennan recalls. “It stuck with me early to look at all the details and find everything.”

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