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Open Studio Tours: Circa Ceramics

Sep 20, 2007

by Julie Schneider handmade and vintage goods

Walking into the Circa Ceramics studio in north-side Chicago, I was overwhelmed with the urge to create. Lauren and I were in for a real treat on this studio tour. Although Andy and Nancy apologized profusely for the alleged messiness of their space, through my eyes it was exactly as a workspace should be: buzzing with energy, well-equipped, and clearly well-used. Their studio is brimming with drawings, clay, kilns, and ceramic pieces in all stages. I prefer to equate mess as evidence of a healthy, humming studio practice.

Circa Ceramics is a collaborative studio team composed of the warm and wonderful Nancy Pizarro and Andy Witt. This dynamic duo creates a delicious world of candy-colored ceramic dishware, magnets, tiles, tabs, and cylinders adorned with their signature decals. Their fun and functional decorated wares can be found in their Etsy shop and at craft fairs.

One of the most fascinating elements of visiting a studio is witnessing other makers’ creative processes and the behind-the-scenes secrets. Andy and Nancy were incredibly generous and open about sharing their process. They walked us through all the steps of how they make one of their mugs, from the production of a mug to surface decoration to firing.


Andy’s focus in the team is to produce the pieces (mugs, bowls, cylinders) using a pottery wheel that he converted from an awkward kickwheel to smooth motorized wheel. The clay, either porcelain or earthenware, is pressed into one of their handmade molds and formed on the whirling wheel with the aid of a wooden template, which carves away a consistent interior. This process is repeated for every single piece of dishware that Circa Ceramics creates.

Nancy’s focus in the pair is on the surface design of the pieces. She applies the glazes and decals to the wares. As an ardent fan of all things Gocco, I was particularly intrigued by their decaling process. The decals are created either by printing with overglaze through a Print Gocco screen, or by printing from a laser printer (which contains iron oxide in the toner), onto decal paper. Once the decal is ready, Nancy “floats” the paper backing off, leaving only the image adhered to the gelatin surface of the decal. The decal is then applied to the mug (or bowl or cylinder).

I left the Circa Ceramic studio longing to revel in a ceramics studio, getting messy and making stuff in this intensely hands-on, process-oriented medium. I am thoroughly motivated by this prolific pair, who are living proof of the possibility of making a living making things.  Viva Circa Ceramics!

For more information on the wares and process of Circa Ceramics, visit:


  • sofiamasri

    sofiamasri said 9 years ago

    Awesome! Congrats Nancy and Andy!

  • stellaloella Admin

    stellaloella said 9 years ago

    Great profile, Julie! This was truly a high point of our trip to Chicago (though Renegade was awesome too). Andy & Nancy are amazingly talented and some of the nicest folks I've ever met. Thank you, Circa Ceramics! :)

  • SalmonStreetStudio

    SalmonStreetStudio said 9 years ago

    Nancy & Andy are great as is their work. Nice story too, and we'd like to be that "messy". Long live Circa Ceramics!

  • CircaCeramics

    CircaCeramics said 9 years ago

    *super blushing!!!* Yay! Thank you to Lauren & Julie! We really enjoyed showing you our space - You two made it the easiest tour we've ever given :) And thanks to Etsy for being here! I hope you all realize how cool it is going into a new show knowing Etsy's got your back :D Yay! [And thanks sofiamasri + SalmonStreet :)] *hugs* Nancy + Andy

  • cutelootboutique

    cutelootboutique said 9 years ago


  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa said 9 years ago

    I'm a big fan of their stuff. So neat to see the process.

  • PataPri

    PataPri said 9 years ago

    Their work is amazing! I was so happy to see them in person @ Renegade.

  • workingclassheroes

    workingclassheroes said 9 years ago

    great, great work. a couple of those mugs are just waiting to be filled with some viennese coffee!

  • marstinia

    marstinia said 9 years ago

    Andy and Nancy are the most awesome!!!! I'm a proud owner of their pieces and their pal since 1999! So very happy to see them featured here!

  • TattooDreams

    TattooDreams said 9 years ago

    I love your work! Great studio shots too! Keep up the spirit!

  • aevan

    aevan said 8 years ago

    i love their stuff, i love the pics too! great to see :)

  • smilingbluedog

    smilingbluedog said 8 years ago

    I love your work & studio. It's nice to see other clay mates in their element :)

  • girlscantell

    girlscantell said 8 years ago

    andy and nancy are the sweetest, most giggly (well, i guess nancy's really the giggles), most awesome hard working duo on etsy! i love their work - their cheerfulness and love of what they do shines through!

  • twokidsstudio

    twokidsstudio said 7 years ago

    wow! love those colourful mugs!

  • LondonParticulars

    LondonParticulars said 7 years ago

    Fantastic studio and thanks for sharing your process!

  • imperfectworld

    imperfectworld said 7 years ago

    I love reading this profile - great inspiration!

  • EmuArtTile

    EmuArtTile said 5 years ago

    Nice tour. Great mugs!

  • weenerware

    Barbara and Jean - the Weeners from weenerware said 4 years ago

    The Weeners love the Circas.

  • bpdmso

    Mary from MarySanzJewelry said 3 years ago

    Awesome. Congrats!

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