Morning Routines with Catalina Parra

Meet Catalina Parra, the founder of Base Ceramics and the creator of our latest Ceramicist Series collaboration!

What does a typical morning look like for Catalina?

I am a morning person, I wake up early every morning around 7, even if I don’t have to. I have the same breakfast every day - granola with fruits – and usually like to start my working day early to try to get more things done.

How have your mornings changed since COVID?

Absolutely! First of all, I used to commute to New Jersey for work 4 days a week, and now I haven’t seen a subway in 3 months! When I was not in NJ I used to go to work in architecture freelance projects from an office in Williamsburg or at my share ceramic studio which used to be walking distance from my house.

So basically, all of this stopped. The studio I used to work from in NJ closed and all my other projects stopped!

I used to leave my house every morning after breakfast and come back in the evening, and that is definitely not the case anymore. Now I have my breakfast and sit in my dining table for 12hours and then go to the living room to switch things a bit. lol

How has your process for base changed since COVID? You’re now making everything in your house, correct?

As soon as COVID restrictions started I decided to bring a couple of molds home just to be able to make pieces for “2-3 weeks” which ended up being 98 days as today.

Working with clay at home has many cons: 

  • The first thing I bought at the dollar store was a waterproof table cover that could be easily cleaned and protected the wood.
  • Ceramic dust messes up your lungs so the hardest part is to keep your living environment clean and free of dust. 
  • Also, ceramic ruins the drainage system, and without the studio sink trap, you have to be very careful and mindful about water usage. I used water buckets to clean my tools, pieces and surfaces and then let the clay set in the bottom of the buckets overnight.
  • Slipcasting takes up a lot of space with the molds and the slip buckets. My dining room was rapidly transformed into a mix of storage/studio space that I also shared with my partner who was working from home as well.

However, it worked out! I am very grateful I was able to keep making ceramics. The process became significantly slower and limited in many ways but it gave me the chance to do some cool projects like finish thee mugs for Dripkit and start a quarantine mug project that has been super fun!

What are a few of your morning rituals and routines?

Before I go to bed I take a glass of water to my night stand, so the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is drink some water. I stay in bed for a bit and read the news briefing, check my emails and that is when I start planning my day.

I water the plants in the morning before work twice a week, and we have quite a few plants, so I consider that part of my routine even if it is not an everyday thing.

Contrary to the common believe as a Colombian, I do not start my morning with coffee! During quarantine my partner got very serious about making fresh squeezed orange juice every morning and that is something I have enjoyed a lot and hope to be able to keep in my routine after COVID.

When did you start Base Ceramics?

I officially started Base ceramics a year ago in May. Making ceramics is something that started way before, but I never even thought about selling anything before getting into slipcasting.

Have you always been interested in pottery?

Yes! I have always had this fascination towards ceramic pieces I saw in museums or trips. I didn’t start making ceramics too long ago, but the interest has been there for many years.

What do you love about clay as a medium for your art?

I love to be able to work with my hands with such a flexible material to make something as durable as a finished ceramic piece. Clay gives you so many possibilities regarding texture, color and form that it feels like there is always the possibility to drastically change a piece and get amazing results.

Tell us about your favorite mug!

I like simplicity and a clean design. For me is not that much about the complexity of the glaze but the piece itself. I have a plain mug from my fri

Personally, I like to let my drinks cool down before I drink them, so the functionality of the handle is important, but honestly, I’m equally happy with a nice tumbler.

What is your process like when you think about creating a new piece?

I think about how someone could use the piece. How would it look, does it have more than one function? How is it going to look in a space, which colors do I want the piece to have. Would I have one of those? 

Tell us about your quarantine mug project with Andrea!

This project has been the best of the quarantine! We had so much fun and it kept me super busy which was amazing during this weird time full of uncertainty!

We reconnected our friendship with a design project which was awesome, because we have known each other since we were kids, so this was a great collaboration.

What did you learn about yourself from sticking to a practice like making a mug a day?

That consistency is very important to keep your process going and improving. I am not going to lie, it was fun, but it was also very hard because there were so many other things happening at the same time.

But It brought a lot of fulfillment that I wouldn’t have gotten just by making other pieces. With this particular project, the pressure of making a new piece every day gave me more confidence about my process and design choices. 


See Catalina's mug here.