A friendship shaped by a shared love for ceramics

For many, a hobby is simply an outlet to relax and requires little time. But for Megan Miao, 29, and Samantha Tan, 28, their love for pottery has evolved into something much bigger.

Megan, a learning experience designer, and Samantha, a physician, first started making ceramics simply as a hobby. Now they run Eastfield Ceramicsa small business selling handmade ceramic household items.

The name “Eastfield” is a direct translation of the words Dong Tian (东田), a combination of Chinese characters found in both of their surnames. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA

Although they work day jobs unrelated to crafts, Megan and Samantha are no strangers to the art world. Having studied art earlier in their school years, they found themselves naturally drawn to ceramics.

“I studied fine art in college and a lot of my practice was conceptual. I think over time I realized that I really wanted to get back in touch with making things with my hands,” says Megan, adding that ceramics is a great entry point for her because it allows her to create functional objects that are not merely purely decorative.

Like Megan, Samantha missed the days of making art in high school.

“I was studying art a bit, but it was something that I gave up just because I didn’t think it was very practical. I found ceramics and it was something that combined both practicality and artistry and that’s how I went further down the rabbit hole.

The couple first met during a pottery class at the Euphoramics studio. Their pottery teacher, Yan, was actually one of the main driving forces behind this unexpected union.

Yan noticed that Megan likes glazing, a process where colors are applied to ceramic pieces, while Samantha dislikes it. On the other hand, Samantha loves what Megan hates – the mechanical process of sculpting and shaping parts called throwing.

“I accumulated a lot of unglazed wares piling up on the shelves and I was just complaining that I didn’t want to color any of them,” says Samantha.

“Long story short, our pottery teacher got tired of complaining to us that we didn’t want to do the things the other wanted to do,” Megan adds.

“One day she was fed up and was like, ‘Why don’t you just ice up Samantha’s work and then you can fix this?'”

When the couple saw how this arrangement worked for them, they began experimenting with making pieces together. This is what gave birth to Eastfield Ceramics.

While Megan and Samantha’s decision to start a business may seem easy, that doesn’t mean the journey doesn’t come with challenges.

With too much to do and too little time, they are constantly reminded that Eastfield Ceramics is a side business fueled by passion.

They meet in the studio for about four hours on a weekend and spend another two to three hours on non-ceramic works. This includes taking pictures of finished products and brainstorming new ideas.

During peak seasons like Christmas, they will have to work longer hours to meet the increased volume of orders.

Megan explains how important discipline is when it comes to time management. “With something like ceramics, it’s very easy to think that I’m going to book 12 straight hours in the studio this weekend, but I also know that if I do that, not all 12 hours will be spent in the studio. same way. and creative.

“Having limits on things actually allows me to be a bit more creative.”

The duo have also faced times when they feel their works have stagnated. This is especially the case when some of their pieces start to look alike.

“Halfway through our journey, there were certain expectations of what people liked or wanted to see from us and it was really hard to step out of that creative process or out of our comfort zone,” Samantha explains.

This is when they will both discuss their ideas or even go on “retreats” where they give each other space so they can individually come up with new things or ideas that they love.

“Once we’ve talked about those situations, it always comes out better and stronger because that’s also where you define your vision for your product. When you’re a single potter, you have to dictate that path, but when you’re two people, you have to decide how to move in that direction,” says Megan.

Megan and Samantha make a point of communicating with each other. As this is a joint venture, they find it important to take into account the points of view of both parties. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA

For Megan and Samantha, Eastfield Ceramics is far from ‘relaxing’. But that doesn’t make it any less of a hobby for them.

“I would challenge the idea that hobbies are meant to be a space for relaxation…relaxing is me lying on the bed and doing nothing, but I wouldn’t call it a hobby either,” Megan says, explaining that sometimes the things we do charging might not be the easiest thing to do.

Those interested in pottery and ceramic household ware making, patience with yourself and the pottery process is important. Megan explains that while short two-hour classes are a great way to learn about pottery, it’s definitely not enough to really grasp the whole process and concept.

And like any other hobby, you can’t expect a flawless result on your first try.

Samantha says, “A lot of the early work might look a little hideous, but now when I look back, there’s also a charm to it that it’s slightly wonky and unbalanced.

“You can’t go back to that charm and there’s a beauty to that moment, so even as you progress, even at different times in your life, you create beauty in different ways.”

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