There is much to be learned from humble clay. At its most elemental, it carries a heft, weight, and a deeply grounded sense of place—it is, after all, literally earth. When water and airy intention enter the mix, clay becomes animated by the infinite possibilities of creation, it becomes an earthy elastic shape-shifter that can be formed by the magical working of human hands. When under fire and pressure, it changes again, calling forth reserves of heretofore unknown strength, emerging out of the kiln transformed: matte tactile, diamond-hard, and ready for the task at hand.

At any point along this journey, there are sacred and messy lessons that speak deeply to us, lessons that are thoughtfully channeled into object by Vancouver-based ceramicist Rachel Saunders. In her dreamy island work-space, there is a Lao Tzu quote: "Shape clay into a vessel; it is the space within that makes it useful". We sat down with Rachel to talk about the preciousness and utility of maintaining that space, of the power of molding something out of necessity, and of the magic alchemy of air, earth, fire, and water.


Rachel wears the Wilma Pullover and Carli Sweater Pant





We love how you refer to your body/self as a vessel. For you, what is the conversation between the tangible vessels you create from clay and the vessel of your physical/spiritual self?

I like to stay fluid and changeable like unfired clay. I look for messages and signs and commune with the divine while experimenting everyday of my life. I often look to see where I am playing small and see if I can stretch a little further. Sometimes it works out magnificently and sometimes ends up in a big mess. But it’s the only way I keep moving forward. I also get hardened and crack or become too soft and slump very easily, so though my life is a constant up and down, a place of centeredness is what I always strive for.  


Ceramics exist at a beautiful intersection of utility and beauty. When you dream of form and function what comes first?

The intention is the spark that lights the flame. All of my pieces have specific and useful functions, and why I personally need/want them in my life is what starts the entire process. Internally, I can be very scattered, intense, and manic at times with a myriad of emotions, thoughts and ideas at play all at once. I like to create my exteriors in a way that’s tranquil and serene, to balance out how I feel at times. And I make ceramics to aid me in that endeavor. I make things like the Vanity Tray to keep my clutter contained and beautiful, the Phone Home to remind me of self-care and connection, and the Shelfie to get lost in a little dream world. The visual aspect of how a piece is formed is always the easiest because I value simplicity above all and don’t like to overcomplicate things. Most ideas just enter my mind in unprompted, simple visions, but it always starts with a feeling I wish to achieve within the object itself.


So much of your work and life feels dedicated, with specific intention, towards being present in the current moment. What do you find brings you both lightness and awareness?

That is so kind, thank you. I believe darkness to be one of the most powerful bringers of light. I never feel more alive than when I’ve made it through an intense period or experience in my life, and never feel lighter than when I’ve confronted the dark. We are seeing this on a global scale now and it is terrifying and exhilarating. Amidst all the tragedy so many of us are beginning to see our true purpose and what matters most. I’ve never witnessed more compassion or awareness from my fellow earthlings than I do now, and I believe it will only continue. Keeping the polarity of life and death, beauty and chaos, light and dark at the forefront of my mind helps me find middle ground while appreciating the duality of existence amidst the suffering and the pleasure. I’ve always felt that the worst thing I can feel is nothing, so I remind myself to give gratitude to the discomfort in life as that’s what brings about the light.




Rachel wears the Parke Jacket, Rosa Bodysuit, and Kate Jean



Rachel wears the Parke Jacket, Rosa Bodysuit, and Kate Jean  






How do you maintain your connectivity to the natural world? How is that similar or different to how you maintain your connectivity to other humans?

Working with clay offers me direct connection to the earth and a greater awareness of my impact, and I am at a point where I want to honor that with greater devotion. All the elements really, for they play such an equally great part in my life. I’m an air sign heating up water and earth in the fire after all. Connection to the natural world comes easy in my current environment. Connection to other humans is always something that ebbs and flows with me, I like my solitude, but also need meaningful connection to survive. My work has been an incredible divining force in that regard, bringing the most amazing people into my life naturally, and I’m always so grateful for the relationships that organically transpire.

Where are you and what are you doing when you feel the most alive? The most at peace? The most yourself?

Right now. Alone in a hotel room laying naked in front of a fire, surrounded by the mess of an uninhibited afternoon creating in my own unique way, with nowhere and no one to be.



See more of Rachel's work here and follow her adventures on Instagram here. Photos by Linh Sa Arnold.






New User

By creating an account with our store, you will be able to move through the checkout process faster, store multiple shipping addresses, view and track your orders in your account and more.