Shiba Inu – Dog Of The Month

Shiba Inu - Dog of the Month at Shepherds Grove

I chose the Shiba Inu for my Dog of the Month because it’s just so “foxy” and adorable.  I have a friend who has a Shiba, and I am taken with just how intelligent and dignified her dog is – she’s not one to really frolic or roll over for a belly rub, but she is inquisitive and kind.    As always, when I choose a dog to work on, I get to learn a little more about the breed.

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Spitz dog breeds in Japan and is considered the oldest breed, according to the AKC.  They’re agile and compact and have very keen senses, which made them excellent hunting dogs that could easily navigate the steep hills in the mountainous regions of Japan from whence the originated.  The Shiba ancestors that were brought down from the mountains to more populated areas in Japan were courser looking and larger boned than today’s very elegant Shibas.  WWII brought near extinction of the breed and there were three bloodlines remaining.  It is from these bloodlines that the modern Shiba has evolved.

Well, I can’t wait to have Shiba Inu gifts among my dog lover pottery.  I’ll post my finished design when I get it done.

Warmest regards,


p.s.  Join my email list and you’ll receive a 20% off coupon on your first purchase of handmade dog lover gifts from my website!




Dog Themed Salt & Pepper Shakers In The Works

Dog themed salt and papper shakers in progress
Dog themed salt and pepper shakers in progress.

A couple of weeks ago I received the salt and pepper shaker ceramic molds that I ordered, so I have been working on making them.   A customer actually requested these and I thought it would be great to add dog breed salt and pepper shakers to my dog themed gift line-up.  I’m excited to see them finished.

Every new item that I add requires getting used to the ceramic mold and the resulting shape – they all have their own idiosyncrasies.  The salt and pepper molds were straight forward to use but once the pieces come out of the molds, there were things to deal with that I’d never had to deal with before.  Holes need to be made on the tops for the salt and pepper to shake out of, and then the bottoms need to be plugged with a stopper, luckily I’ve found a vendor for these.

The holes on top were a little tricky because they need to be the right diameter for salt and pepper to flow out of at the right rate. Things I had to consider:  whatever sized holes I make are going to shrink 12% once the pieces go through the final firing (because that is how much my stoneware shrinks); and the holes will tend to clog with glaze when the shakers are dipped into the glaze.

I’ve used a drill bit that is 2mm in diameter to hand drill the holes in the tops once the shakers were leather hard. I marked the location of the holes using a template I made (based on similar sized salt/pepper shakers I’ve seen).  When the piece goes through the bisque firing (the first firing), the holes will shrink a little.  The shakers are glazed at this point, and the holes completely plug up with glaze, which requires that I use a needle tool to open them up again.  The glaze I use is a non-moving glaze, which means that it doesn’t shift during the firing (a necessary feature because I hand paint my bands and stripes on top of this white glaze, and don’t want my lines moving all over the place), so there’s little danger of the holes plugging up again during the firing.

My first shaker attempt just came out of the kiln today and now I can check how well it performs with salt and pepper. Back from my salt and pepper test.  Things worked pretty darn well.  Now that I have a final piece that works and know the final overall size of the shakers, I can design the artwork that will decorate them and order the stoppers for the bottoms.

I will report back with a finished and decorated set of dog themed salt and pepper shakers.


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day From Shepherds Grove!!



Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from Shepherds Grove Studio.  Dante, my older and distinguished German Shepherd, took time out of his busy schedule to “pose” for a picture and attack an innocent shamrock,  in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.  Hope yours is just as jolly!



How It’s Made – Shepherds Grove Dog Pottery

I recently made a short video that shows the overall process I use to make my handmade dog gifts.  I posted the video on the “about” page but thought I would share it here as well.

I’m planning to add more video to my website, especially product videos.  Sometimes it’s a little difficult for someone unfamiliar with me and my work to know what the pottery items are really like.  Hopefully seeing them in action will help a little.

Bye for now,



For Labradoodle Lovers!

I received a request for a Mini Labradoodle mug and went to work making the new Labradoodle design.  I always appreciate when my customers write me about the products they ordered.  This customer was very happy with the Labradoodle mug she had ordered for her daughter.  I have such a fun job 🙂

The Labradoodle design is available on all of the pottery shapes I make, which can be found on my Labradoodle Gifts page.  It is currently only available in red, but if you need a different color, just ask.






New! Saint Bernard Dog Design

My Saint Bernard Gifts are now available! I started my Saint Bernard Design in the summer for a customer but hadn’t finished it because she got busy and didn’t provide me with a picture of the coat color of her friend’s dog.  But things came together and I finished the art, and the items, and now have a finished piece with a Saint Bernard to show you, and notice that it was made with my new mug shape.  Here is my new Saint Bernard mug:

Handmade Saint Bernard Mug by

The Saint Bernard mug is on my website, along with the Saint Bernard Ring Dish (dipping bowl), which is a cute little bowl for holding rings, coins, sauces, etc.  I will be adding all of my other pottery shapes to the Saint Bernard gifts category very soon.

July’s Dog of the Month


July’s Dog of the Month is the Saint Bernard, and was chosen because a customer requested it.  So if you’re looking for a breed that isn’t yet on my list, then request it! 🙂

The history of the Saint Bernard is surrounded in mystery and legend and makes an excellent read.  Here are some highlights.  Passing Romans brought dogs into Switzerland; dogs mated with local dogs and created the stock from which St. Bernards stem.  Monks used these dogs at their Hospice in the St. Bernard Pass (between Italy and Switzerland) during the 16th and 17th centuries. The breed eventually got its name from the hospice from which it originated (1880 was when it was officially designated as St. Bernard)  however it was referred to as the “Hospice Dog”and “Sacred Dog” prior to that.  Many tales of rescue ensued from the Hospice; fires happened that obscure the record of these dogs at the Hospice.  Severe weather from 1816- 1818 killed many of the Hospice strains.  A similar situation occurred in 1830, and inbreeding and disease exacerbated the weakening of their breed.  Monks outcrossed the Hospice Dogs with Newfoundlands and this revitalized the breed, while keeping the Hospice Dog type and characteristics.  This also produced the first long hair variety, as prior to 1830 they were all short haired.  That’s the breed history in a very hasty nutshell.  There is much more information about the dedicated breeders involved along the way that I don’t have room for here.  It really is amazing how these very old dog breeds come about.

I will be making a couple of coat varieties.  And there is always the option to have the artwork customized to reflect your dog’s markings, if my coat variations aren’t quite right for your dog.  Just select the “custom coat” option on the item page (there is a small art fee for this option).  I will post my finished design soon, do some color testing, and then you’ll be able to purchase Saint Bernard gifts here!

Enjoy the rest of your July!






June’s Dog of the Month – Alaskan Klee Kai


I will be changing the “Dog of the week” to “Dog of the Month”.  I was very ambitious to take on a new dog design every week, though I am happy about my efforts and the drawings they produced.  The design work is, for me, the most time consuming part of what I do, and I feel that a new drawing every month allows me to give the time I need to the artwork.

June’s Dog of the Month is the Alaskan Klee Kai.  What?  Never heard of it?  I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with it until a customer asked if I did custom work because her dog breed was not on my website list and it is hard to find items with her dog breed on them.  I told her that I happily add new breeds at the request of customers.  She sent me a picture of her cute pup and told me that it was an Alaskan Klee Kai.   I immediately took the internet to find out all about it.

Klee Kai is the Eskimo term for “little dog.”  The breed was developed beginning in the early 1970’s as a miniature version of the Alaskan Husky, a popular breed for racing and sledding in Alaska, though not recognize by the AKC.  The Klee Kai is not recognized by the AKC either, but spayed and neutered dogs can be entered in AKC Partners programs and Companion events.

So what is the Klee Kai like? The miniature version is from 13-15″ and the standard from 15″-17″. They have a distinct facial mask and can come in any color except all white.  They are quick learners and very active – like Huskies, they love to run.  Here are some of the activities I found the Alaskan Klee Kai involved in: agility, freestyle, dock diving, weight pull, therapy and service dogs, carting, rally obedience, nose work.  From my understanding, the Alaskan Klee Kai is one-family oriented and are very reserved around strangers, which is a challenge because they are so cute and people are drawn to them.  However, like any population, there are some very social members among the Alaskan Klee Kai too, as must be the case if they are used as therapy and service dogs.

I was very happy to be introduced to this breed and to get to learn more about it.  I will post my finished Alaskan Klee Kai artwork when I finish it.  And soon after that, you’ll be able to find it among the other dog pottery on the Shepherds Grove website.




P.S.  I am currently running a contest on Instagram – #mydoglovesmecontest  Look at any of my most recent pictures to see how to enter.  Good luck!!

Dog of The Week – Shetland Sheepdog

Ok, so this post is two weeks late and a little misleading.   The lateness stems from a big pottery project I’m working on and a recent vacation.  The misleading part is that my title suggests that I am adding Shetland Sheepdogs to my list of dog breeds, but really I completed an update to my current design.  For years I have had Shelties in my line-up and have been making Sheltie Gifts.  I love this breed as it was the dog of my childhood – there were three in my parents home over the years.  The artwork I did of this breed years ago has been popular, and I get many orders for it.  But a request came in to capture the breed standard a little bit better.  This brings up a point that comes up over an over again.  There are dogs within a breed that are just lovely, but that aren’t the breed standard.  Our Shelties were a little too large compared with the standard but they were awesome.  My art tries to reflect the breed standard, especially my more current additions.  In the past,  I would find a reference picture that looked good to me and go from there, and this was the case with my original Sheltie design.  I saw a picture that looked like the dogs I grew up with and drew my design based on it.  My new design has less height in the body and the legs and a slightly larger head.  I also added a bi-black version and bi-blue (no tan).   I will be changing the options on my website to include the new design and will remove the old design, though I will keep it in my files for customers who request it.

Original Sheltie Design
New Sable Sheltie Design - Shepherds Grove
New Sable Sheltie Design – Shepherds Grove

English Cocker Spaniel – Dog of the Week

Blue Roan English Cocker Spaniel Design

I have added the English Cocker Spaniel at a customer’s request. I love adding new breeds because it gives me the opportunity to learn more about them. The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest types of land spaniels known, descending from the original spaniels of Spain (The Complete Dog Book, 19th Ed.). Once the breed was recognized as simply a variety of Cocker Spaniel, but not its own breed. In 1935, the English Cocker Spaniel Club or America was formed to promote the breed, and to stop the interbreeding between American and English varieties, in order to maintain distinct types. In 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a distinct breed.

The breed was developed for and is still used for hunting woodcock or pheasant and for flushing partridge. It will also retrieve duck or goose.  Being a bird dog at heart, the English Cocker Spaniel does well in field events and working tests. The breed is also adept at agility (check out this video of Eileen winning the Agility Winter Cup 2014/2015), flyball, rally and tracking. The breed is also a popular companion animal, being described as merry and alert.

The English Cocker Spaniel has a luscious coat that beckons to be touched. It requires regular grooming to keep it manageable. Like with American Cocker Spaniels, there are a variety of colors that fall into parti colors (multi) or solid colors. The solid colors include black, liver and red. The red can be a light sandy gold to a deep red, almost the color of an Irish Setter. And the solid black and liver can have tan points (tan areas on the eyebrows, muzzle, front of the legs, feet and beneath the tail). These would then be called black and tan, or liver and tan.

The parti colors include any of the solid colors just mentioned but can either be open marked (solid white with solid patches of other colors), roaned (where white is mixed with another color, like salt and pepper), or ticked (where the white areas are ticked with another color – small spots). There are different names for the roaned varieties, such as blue roan (if it’s salt and pepper), orange roan (a lighter red and white), lemon roan (if the coat’s is a blend of lighter red and white).

The coat color I chose was the blue roan (salt and pepper), though I will add more varieties as they are requested, or as I have time.  I will be test firing this design this week, and possibly adjusting the colors.  I’m excited (just as I am any time I add a new design) to see some finished English Cocker Spaniel mugs 🙂