Studio Visits #5, Maria Sadler, Milford Delaware

Maria Sadler in her pottery shed
We had a nice talk about the art and craft of the pottery she does

I had a fun visit with Maria Sadler today in her studio shed behind her home in Milford Delaware. So far it’s the biggest studio space I’ve been in and much more organized than mine would be, if I had a studio! Maria is a potter and artisan with clay. I bought a cool leaf dish from her at a craft and art show at the Delvet’s here in Dover a few months ago, before I started my project. We talked a little about her tools, including this kiln she uses. It goes up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit for up to twelve hours and takes 2 days to cool off. Any faster and the pottery might break from the thermal shock! It costs from $6 to $10 each time she does a run, so she makes sure to fill that puppy up before starting a run.

Maria Sadler at her Electric Kiln
I asked Maria just how graceful it was for her to load the kiln. She said “not very” to load all the way at the bottom!

I kept coming back to the time investment in the pieces she does. Besides the time actually making her pieces, she has to let them dry for up to a few weeks, then put them in the kiln and getting the pieces out up to a few days later. There are no rush jobs! And there are no guarantees! Things can break outside the kiln and flat out explode inside the kiln if there is too much moisture or air pocket in the clay.

Maria does do some custom work, and goes to shows about twice a month. Her nautical pieces really sell well down at the beach shows. I like her leaf dishes that she describes a little in her answers to the questions below because each is individual.

Smoothing one of her leaf pots. Each one is individual and comes from a real leaf she presses into the clay!
Smoothing one of her leaf pots. Each one is individual and comes from a real leaf she presses into the clay!
Maria Sadler cutting clay
Maria showed me how she makes the slabs she uses for her leaf pieces. It starts with a good size chunk of clay she goes up to Philadelphia to purchase every few months. She presses it out in that roller thingy (don’t you love the tech terms?) behind her on the table.
Some of the tools she uses to give textures and shapes to her works
Some of the tools she uses to give textures and shapes to her works


As in the prior installments, some of my questions and Maria’s answers follow:

What kinds of art do you do?

I am a potter.  Most of my work is functional pottery such as bowls, platters and vases.  Every now an then I’ll attempt to make a piece that can be used as jewelry or a plaque or wall hanging.

Do you have a day job too? 

I retired from the State of Delaware two years ago.  Currently I work part time for a payroll company, Swift Payroll, and I volunteer bartend at the Milford VFW.  I’ve thought about trying to get a full time job again, but it’s hard to find something that won’t interfere with my time working in my studio or with shows.

Is there something that drives your art?

I’ve always had a love for pottery.  As a child I lived in Japan and would go shopping with my mother to buy dishes and figurines made from pottery.  Also while visiting Greece every summer, my mother is Greek; I would purchase wall hangings and vases made by local artists. I just love the process of creating something that someone can enjoy and use on a daily basis.   I’m always trying to improve my skills and am looking for new ideas on what to make.

How long have you been doing it? Any special training?

Well I guess I started as a kid making mud pies. I made a lot of those.  I also played with Play-do a lot.  I took my first pottery class in high school and loved it.  Then when my kids were little around 16-17 years ago I decided to take another class at the base as something to do for myself.  I fell in love with the creative process all over again.  The skills center had open studio once a week, so a group of us started meeting once a week and spent time together sharing ideas and helping each other with our skills.  I learned a lot from both Pat and Xan.  Over time we had created so many pieces and it started getting expensive buying clay and supplies, so we decided to try selling our pieces.  We did a few shows together and we did well.  It felt really good to find that people really liked our pieces.  

What’s your favorite kind to do? Why?

I especially like using leaves to make platters.  My friend Pat showed me how to do this and I just couldn’t get enough of it.  I am always looking at leaves trying to figure out how I can use them in a piece.  I especially like using skunk cabbage leaves, cabbage leaves and sunflower leaves because they are large. When you press the leaf into the clay, the clay captures everything from the leaf.  Each leaf is one of a kind, like a snowflake, so each platter is unique.  I use each leaf one time so each piece is truly one of a kind.

I also like to incorporate stamps and texture into my pieces.  I’m always looking for new stamps and found objects that might create a pattern that I can use.  Once I borrowed a friend’s earring to make a stamp.  

Do you have a favorite piece?

Yes, it’s a raku piece that it a nude of a torso of a woman.  Someone who does sculpture would probably look at it and laugh, but I love it.

How can I find you online?

I have a website: and on Facebook under Kalypso Pottery.

Do you have a series or theme you’re working on now?

Not really.  I have a hard time sticking to one thing.  I am always working on something different.   


Thanks Maria for sharing your workspace and story with me!